Infobox CityIT
img_coa = Gaeta_stemma.gif
official_name = Comune di Gaeta
name = Gaeta
region = Lazio
province = Latina (LT)
elevation_m = 2
area_total_km2 = 28
population_as_of = December 31, 2004
population_total = 21522
population_density_km2 =755
timezone = CET, UTC+1
coordinates = coord|41|13|N|13|34|E
frazioni =
telephone = 0771
postalcode = 04024
gentilic = Gaetani
saint = Saint Erasmus
day = June 2
mayor = Antonio Raimondi (since June, 2007)
website = []

Gaeta is a city and "comune" in the province of Latina, in Lazio, central Italy. Set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, it is 120 km from Rome and 80 km from Naples.

The town has played a conspicuous part in military history: its fortifications date back to Roman times, and it has several traces of the period, including the first-century mausoleum of the Roman general Lucius Munatius Plancus at the top of the Montagna Spaccata ("Split Mountain"). Gaeta's fortifications were extended and strengthened in the 15th century, and indeed throughout the history of the Kingdom of Naples (later the Two Sicilies). Nowadays Gaeta is a fishing and oil seaport, and a renowned tourist resort. NATO maintains a base of operations at Gaeta.


Ancient times

It is the ancient "Caieta", situated on the slopes of the Torre di Orlando, a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. Gaeta was an ancient Ionian colony of the Samians according to Strabo, who believed the name stemmed from the Greek "kaiétas", which means "cave", probably referring to the several harbours. According to Virgil's "Aeneid" (vii.1–9), "Caieta" was Aeneas’ (another legend says or Ascanius') wet-nurse, whom he buried here.

In the classical age "Caieta", famous for its lovely and temperate climate, like the neighbouring Formia and Sperlonga, was a tourist resort and site of the seaside villas of many important and rich characters of Rome. Like the other Roman resorts, Caieta was linked to the capital of the Empire by Via Appia and its end trunk Via Flacca (or Valeria), through an opposite "diverticulum" or bye-road. Its port was of great importance in trade and in war, and was restored under Emperor Antoninus Pius. Among its antiquities is the mausoleum of Lucius Munatius Plancus.

Middle Ages

:"See also Duchy of Gaeta".At the beginning of the Middle Ages, after the Lombard invasion, Gaeta remained under suzerainty of the Byzantine Empire. In the following years, like Amalfi, Sorrento and Naples, it would seem to have established itself as a practically independent port and to have carried on a thriving trade with the Levant. As Byzantine influence declined in Southern Italy the town began to grow. For fear of the Saracens, in 840 the inhabitants of the neighbouring Formiæ fled to Gaeta. Though under the suzerainty of Byzantium, Gaeta had then, like nearby ports Naples and Amalfi, a republican form of government with a "dux" ("duke", or commanding lord under the command of the Byzantine Exarch of Ravenna), as a strong bulwark against Saracen invasion.

Around 830, it became a lordship ruled by hereditary "hypati", or consuls: the first of these was Constantine (839–866), who in 847 aided Pope Leo IV in the naval fight at Ostia. At this same time (846) the episcopal see of Gaeta was founded when Constantine, Bishop of Formiae, fled thither and established his residence. He was associated with his son Marinus I. They were probably violently overthrown (they diappear suddenly from history) in 866 or 867 by Docibilis I, who, looking rather to local safety, entered into treaties with the Saracens and abandoned friendly relations with the papacy. Nevertheless, he greatly expanded the duchy and began construction of the palace. Greatest of the "hypati" was possibly John I, who helped crush the Saracens at Garigliano in 915 and gained the title of "patricius" from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII.

The principle of co-regency governed the early dynasties: Docibilis associated John with him and John in turn associated his son Docibilis II with him. In 933, three generations were briefly co-ruling: John I, Docibilis II, and John II. On the death of Docibilis II (954), who first took the title "dux", the duchy passed from its golden age and entered a decline marked by a division of territory. John II ruled Gaeta and his brother, Marinus, ruled Fondi with the equivalent title of duke. Outlying lands and castles were given away to younger sons and thus the family of the Docibili slowly declined after mid-century.

Allegedly, but improbably, from the end of the 9th century, the principality of Capua claimed Gaeta, as a courtesy title for the younger son of its ruling prince. In the mid-tenth century, the "De Ceremoniis" of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus lists the ceremonial title "prince of Gaeta" among the protocols for letters written to foreigners [ [ "De ceremoniis] ]

Prince Pandulf IV of Capua captured Gaeta in 1032 and deposed Duke John V, assuming the ducal and consular titles. In 1038, Prince Guaimar IV of Salerno took it from him and, in 1041, established the Norman counts of Aversa, who were afterwards princes of Capua, as puppet dukes. The native dynasty made a last attempt to wrest the duchy from Guaimar in 1042 under Leo the Usurper.

In 1045, the Gaetans elected their own Lombard duke, Atenulf I. His son, Atenulf II, was made to submit to the Norman Prince Richard I of Capua in 1062, when Gaeta was captured by Jordan Drengot. In 1064, the city was placed under a line of puppet dukes, appointed by the Capuan princes, who had usurped the ducal and consular titles. These dukes, usually Italianate Normans, ruled Gaeta with some level of independence until the death of Richard of Caleno in 1140. In that year, Gaeta was definitively annexed to the Kingdom of Sicily by Roger II, who bestowed on his son Roger of Apulia, who was duly elected by the nobles of the city. The town did maintain its own coinage until as late as 1229, after the Normans had been superseded by the centralising Hohenstaufen.

In the many wars for possession of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Gaeta, owing to its important strategic position, was often attacked and defended bravely. In 1194 the Pisans, allies of Emperor Henry VI in the conquest of the kingdom, took possession of the city and held it as their own.

In 1227 the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II was in the city and strengthened the castle. However, in the struggle between Emperor Frederick and the Papacy, in 1228 it rebelled against Frederick II and surrendered to the pope, after the Papal forces destroyed the imperial castle in the fray. After the peace of San Germano of 1230, it was given back to the Sicilian kingdom. In 1233, Frederick regained control of the important port and fortress. In 1279 Charles I of Anjou rebuilt the castle and enhanced the fortifications. In 1289 King James II of Aragon besieged the city in vain. From 1378 Gaeta hosted for some years antipope Clement VII. The future King of Naples Ladislas lived in Gaeta from 1387. Here, on 21 September, he married Costanza Chiaramonte, whom he repudiated three years later.

King Alfons V of Aragon (as Alfonso I of Naples) made Gaeta his beachhead for the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples in 1435, besieged it, and to his own disadvantage displayed great generosity, by aiding those unable to bear arms who had been driven out from the besieged town. After a disastrous naval battle he captured it, and gained control of the kingdom. He enlarged the castle, which became his royal palace, and created a mint.

Modern era

In 1495, king Charles VIII of France conquered the city and sacked it. The following year, however, Frederick I of Aragon regained it with a tremendous siege which lasted from September 8 to November 18.

In 1501 Gaeta was retaken by the French, who, after the defeat of Garigliano (January 3, 1504), abandoned it to Gonsalvo de Cordova, Ferdinand the Catholic's general.

In 1528 Andrea Doria, admiral of Charles V, defeated a French fleet in the waters off Gaeta and gave the city to its emperor. Gaeta was thenceforth protected with a new and more extensive wall, which also encompassed Monte Orlando.

In the War of the Spanish Succession, on September 30, 1707 Gaeta was stormed and taken after a three months' siege by the Austrians under general Daun. On 6 August, 1734 it was taken by French, Spanish and Sardinian troops under the future King Charles of Naples after a stubborn defense by the Spanish viceroy of four months. The fortifications were again strengthened; and in 1799 it was temporarily occupied by the French.

On July 18, 1806 it was captured by the French under André Masséna, after an heroic defence. It was created a duché grand-fief in the Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples, but under the French name Gaete, for finance minister Martin-Michel-Charles Gaudin, in 1809 (family extinguished in 1841).

On August 8, 1815 it capitulated to the Austrians after a three months' siege.

After his flight from the Roman Republic, Pope Pius IX took refuge at Gaeta in November 1848. He remained in Gaeta until September 4, 1849.

Finally, in 1860, it was the scene of the last stand of Francis II of the Two Sicilies against the forces of United Italy. The king offered a stubborn defense, shut up in the fortress with 12,000 men and inspired by the heroic example of Queen Maria after Garibaldi's occupation of Naples. It was not until February 13, 1861 that Francis II was forced to capitulate when the withdrawal of the French fleet made bombardment from the sea possible, thus sealing the annexation of the Kingdom of Naples to the Kingdom of Italy. Cialdini, the Piedmontese general, received the victory title of "Duke of Gaeta".

Gaeta was the center of the 1919-1924 Montenegrin rebels that opposed the unification of Yugoslavia, The Greens.

Contemporary Gaeta

After the Risorgimento and until World War II, Gaeta grew in importance and wealth as a seaport. The nearby town of Elena, separated after the Risorgimento and named after the queen of Italy, was reunited to Gaeta following World War I. Mussolini transferred Gaeta from the southern region known today as Campania (formerly Terra di Lavoro, to which it is historically and culturally attached) to the central region of Lazio. During World War II, the city retained its strategic importance for Mussolini and later for his Nazi allies. After the king dismissed Mussolini, the latter was initially taken via Gaeta to the island prison of Ponza (where Mussolini had previously locked up many of his political enemies). To keep the population ignorant of the massive convoy, a false air-raid siren sounded. Mussolini would later be transferred to Gran Sasso, from where the Germans rescued him.

After Italy surrendered to the Allies, however, the town's fortunes began to decline. Recognizing its strategic importance, and fearful of an Allied landing in the area, German troops occupied the city and expelled most of the population. The zone of exclusion began with a five-kilometre border from the historical city centre. Soon after, however, the population was expelled even beyond this point. The Gaetani were finally ordered to leave the area completely. Those who could not were placed in a concentration camp, and a few were taken to Germany.

Following the Allied advance across the Garigliano and the Allied occupation of Rome, the Gaetani were allowed to return to their city and begin the process of rebuilding. In subsequent decades the city has boomed as a beach resort, and it has seen some success at marketing its agricultural products, primarily its tomatoes and olives. Many of its families count seamen among their number. However, the decades since World War II have been as difficult for Gaeta as they have been for most of Italy's "Mezzogiorno". In particular, its importance as a passenger seaport has nearly vanished: ferries to Ponza and elsewhere now leave from the nearby town of Formia. All attempts to build a permanent industry as a source of employment and economic well-being for the town have failed. Notable losses include the Littorina rail line (now used as a parking lot and a marketplace), the AGIP refinery (nowadays a simple depot), and the once-thriving glass factory, which has become an unused industrial relic.

Gaeta does have a viable tourism industry, as it is a popular seaside resort. Its warm, rain-free summers attract people to its numerous beaches along the coastline, such as Serapo Beach. Nearly equidistant to both Naples and Rome, Gaeta is a popular summer tourist destination for Romans and Neapolitans.

Main sights

Main monuments of the city include:
* The massive Castle.
* The Mausoleum of Lucius Munatius Plancus (22 BCE) is a cylindrical travertine monument at the top of Monte Orlando (168 m). It stands at 13.20m and has a diameter of 29.50 m. Another important Roman public man, Lucius Sempronius Atratinus, Mark Antony's fleet commander, has a mausoleum, sited in the more recent district of Gaeta: of similar diameter, it is however not as well preserved.
*The Sanctuary of "SS. Trinità", mentioned as early as the 11th century and visited, among the others, by St. Francis and Saint Philip Neri. The Crucifix Chapel was built in 1434 over a rock which had fallen from the nearby cliffs. From the sanctuary the "Grotta del Turco" can be visited: it is a grotto which ends directly in the sea and where the waves create atmospheric effects of light.
*The Church of "Annunziata "(1320), was rebuilt at the beginning of the 17th century in Baroque style by Andrea Lazzari. It houses works by Luca Giordano, Sebastiano Conca and Giacinto Brandi, as well as the sarcophagus of Enrico Caracciolo, a notable Gothic work of art. The most interesting sight is however the Golden Grotto, a Renaissance room where Pope Pius IX devised the dogma of Papal infallibility. The walls of the grotto are decorated with 19 panels by Giovan Filippo Criscuolo (1531) into carved and gilded frames with small pilasters. On the altarpiece is an "Immacolata" by Scipione Pulzone.
*Church of "San Giovanni a Mare" was built by the hypate Giovanni IV in the 10th century, outside the old sea walls of the city. It is a rare example of fusion between the basilica form with the Byzantine one. The simple façade has a Gothic portal and a dome, while the interior has a nave with two aisles. The inner pavement is slightly inclined to allow waters to flow away after sea floods.
*The Cathedral of "Assunta e Sant'Erasmo" was erected over a more ancient church, Santa Maria del Parco, and consecrated by Pope Paschal II in 1106: it had a nave with six aisles separated by columns with Gothic capitals. In 1778, however, two of the aisles were suppressed and the Gothic lines hidden. In the 13th century Moorish arches were added over the capitals. In 1663 the crypt was decorated in Baroque style. The interior houses a banner from the Battle of Lepanto, donated by Pope Pius V to Don John of Austria, who used it as his admiral's flag. The main sight of the church is however the marble Paschal candelabrum, standing 3.50 m tall, from the late 13th century: it is in Romanesque style, decorated with 48 reliefs in 4 vertical rows, telling the "Stories of the Life of Jesus". There are also paintings by Giacinto Brandi and Giovanni Filippo Criscuolo. The cathedral contains the relics of St. Erasmus, transferred from Formiæ; the campanile, in Norman style, dates from 1279.
*The Cathedral has a great bell tower, standing at 57 m, which is considered the city's finest piece of art. The base has two marble lions, and the whole construction made large reuse of ancient Roman architectural elements. The upper part, octagonal in plan, with small Romanesque arches with majolica decoration, was completed in 1279.
*The Chapel of the Crucifix is a curiosity: built on a huge mass of rock that hangs like a wedge between two adjoining walls of rock. Legend tells how the rock was thus split at the moment of our Saviour's death.
*The large church of St. Francis, according to the legend constructed by the Saint himself in 1222, was in fact built by Frederick II, in very fine Gothic-Italian style, and contains paintings and sculpture by many of the most famous Neapolitan artists.
*The parish church of "Santa Lucia", the former "St. Maria in Pensulis", was once a Royal chapel and here prayed Margherita of Durazzo and king Ladislas. It had originally Romanesque and Sicilian-Arab lines, but in the 1456 it was rebuilt in Renaissance style, and in 1648 adapted to a Baroque one. The side has a Mediaeval "pronaos" with ancient fragments and figures of animals.
*The Medieval Quarter of Gaeta is itself of interest. It lies on the steep sides of Mount Orlando and has characteristic houses from the 11th-13th centuries.

Gaeta is also the centre of the Regional Park of "Riviera di Ulisse", which includes Monte Orlando, Gianola and the Scauri Mounts, and the two promontories of Torre Capovento and that of Tiberius' Villa at Sperlonga.

The NATO Base

In 1967, a NATO Base was established in Gaeta. This was done following the transfer of the responsibilities of Lead Nation for NATO Naval Forces in the Mediterranean from the United Kingdom to the United States. The British Mediterranean Fleet was abolished - its former base in Malta was no longer exclusively under British control due to that nation having achieved independence from the UK.

It is current used as the home port for the flagship of the United States' Sixth Fleet. Commander Sixth Fleet, typically a 3-Star US Navy Admiral, has operational control of Naval task forces, battle groups, amphibious forces, support ships, land-based surveillance aircraft, and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. Gaeta's role has been important since the early 19th century to the US Navy’s commitment to forward presence. Pope Pius IX and Ferdinand II, King of the two Kingdoms of Sicily, paid visit to the USS CONSTITUTION, while in Gaeta, in 1849. Nine ships have been stationed in Gaeta, with the primary mission of serving as the flagship for Commander Sixth Fleet. The first was the USS "Little Rock". Other Sixth Fleet flagships included USS PUGET SOUND (AD-38), USS BELKNAP (CG-26) and USS "LaSalle" (AGF-3). The current flagship is USS "Mount Whitney" (LCC-20).

The town is host to the families of the crews who work on the ship. There is a DOD school for American children and the US Naval Support Activity, Gaeta, which provides health care and other services. The NATO base itself is located on Monte Orlando, which overlooks the Gulf of Gaeta. Commander Sixth Fleet also operates a shore-based facility there.


Gaeta has erected a monument to Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), who, according to many sources, was born there (although other sources give Genoa or Chioggia). For other notable people from Gaeta, see ; others include the painters Giovanni da Gaeta and Giovan Filippo Criscuolo.

Gaetani speak a dialect of Italian that, while similar to the nearby Neapolitan, is one of the few Italian dialects to preserve Latin's neuter gender.

Distinctive local cuisine includes the tiella, which resembles both a pizza and a calzone. The tiella can be made with a number of stuffings. Typical stuffings include diced calamari with parsley, garlic, oil, hot pepper and just enough tomato sauce for color. Other stuffings include escarole and baccalà (dried codfish), egg and zucchini, spinach, and ham and cheese.

Sciuscielle, mostaccioli, susamelli, and roccocò are also local desserts most often made during the Christmas season.

The most famous folklore event of Gaeta is "Gliu Sciuscio" of December 31, in which bands of young Gaetani in traditional costumes head to the city's streets, playing mainly self-built instruments.

The town is also notable for its distinctive brand of olives, marketed throughout the world (the main production, however, takes place in neighbouring Itri), and its beaches (Serapo, Fontania, Ariana, Sant'Agostino).

ister cities

*flagicon|France Frontignan, France
*flagicon|USA Mobile, USAcite web|title=Online Directory: Alabama, USA "||url=
*flagicon|USA Somerville, USA


ee also

*List of Hypati and Dukes of Gaeta
*Siege of Gaeta
*Diocese of Gaeta

ources and external links

* [ All that you want about gaeta]
* [
* [ - Napoleonic heraldry]
* [ links for further development]
* [ Photos 2006]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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