Gaeta is a port city in the province of Latina, (Lazio, central Italy). The city covers a total area of approx 29 km2 (11 ml2) and has population around 21,000. Located on a promontory stretching towards Gulf of Gaeta, the city is approx 120 km (75 ml) from Rome and 80 km (50 ml) from Naples - both located to the southeast.
Gaeta has played a prominent part in Italy's military history, as the city's fortifications date back to the Roman Empire. The architecture features several traces of that period, including the 1st-century mausoleum of Roman general Lucius Munatius Plancus (built at Monte Orlando's top). The town's fortifications were strengthened and extended during the 15th century, especially throughout Kingdom of Naples' history. The current-day city is an oil and fishing seaport, as well as a renowned tourist resort destination. An interesting fact is that NATO has a naval base of operations at the city.
The main attractions of Gaeta include:
- Aragonese-Angevine Castle. The origins of the massive castle are uncertain: probably it was built during the 6th century, in the course of Gothic War, or in the 7th century in order to defend the town from Lombards' advance.
- Mausoleum of Lucius Munatius Plancus (22 BCE). It is a cylindrical monument located at the top of 168-meter Monte Orlando.
- Sanctuary of SS. Trinita, mentioned as early as 11th century and visited by Saint Philip Neri and Saint Francis, among the others. The Crucifix Chapel was constructed in 1434 over a rock that had fallen from the nearby cliffs.
- Sanctuary of Santissima Annunziata. An adjacent hospital and a church were built at the site during the 14th century, and rebuilt at the beginning of 17th century by Andrea Lazzari. The sanctuary houses works by Renaissance painters, such as GF Criscuolo and A Sabatini; and late-Baroque artists including Brandi, Giordano and Conca.
- San Giovanni a Mare. This church was initially constructed by the hypate Giovanni IV during the 10th century outside the old sea walls. It combines a basilica form with a Byzantine one.
- Cathedral of Assunta e Sant'Erasmo. It was erected over an ancient church named Santa Maria del Parco, consecrated in 1106 by Pope Paschal II: it had a nave with 6 aisles separated via columns with Gothic capitals.
- The Cathedral boasts a great bell tower, which stands at 57 m, and is considered city's finest piece of art.
- The Chapel of Crucifix is a popular curiosity: built on a large mass of rock which hangs like a wedge between a couple of adjoining walls of rock.