Spend a few days relaxing by the sea in the coastal area between Rome and Naples – there is much to explore
Dear Italia Living readers, I would like to tell you about an Italian sea place where I used to go during the summer when I was child. Beyond the emotional ties between me and this tiny sea village, the reason why I chose to write you an article about it, is because Sperlonga is one of the most beautiful archeological sites of Italy. With its legendary Greek origin, it lies in the middle of the Land of Aeneas and Ulysses’ coastline, and right halfway between Rome and Naples on a spectacular stretch of the South Tyrrhenian Sea.
The peculiarity of Sperlonga is also dependent by many natural grottos located along the coast. In fact the Italian name Sperlonga, derives from the latin “speluncae”, which means cave.
During the Roman empire, many villas were built in Sperlonga, but the most famous is the imperial summer villa built by Emperor Tiberius. The cave itself, The Tiberius’ Grotto, had numerous sculptures that were inspired by the Odyssey. This cave was used as a dining room by the Emperor. Nowadays the ruins of Tiberius’ Villa are connected to the National Archaeological Museum of Sperlonga. In this museum are guarded sculptures of The Tiberius’ Grotto: this collection includes the famous marble groups representing four episodes of the Odissey: the assault of Scylla to the Ulysses’ ship, the blinding of the Cyclops Polyphemus, the palladio rape, and Ulysses who raises the dead body of Achilles. Researchers think that all groups are the work of three famous Rhodian sculptors, Athenodorus, Agesander and Polidero, who also sculpted the famous Laocoonte celebrated today in the Vatican Museum, which Tiberius ordered for decorating the cave.
The Emperor Tiberius is linked to a number of caves. He also moved to Capri, where he built another villa (actually, a complex of villas). Capri’s most famous cave is the Blue Grotto, or La Grotta Azzurra, which is, like Sperlonga, a waterline cavern.
Sperlonga’s waters are regularly awarded with the prestigious environmental rating, “The European blue flag”, for its beautiful clean sea with its particular shade, blending sky’s blue and crystal green reflexes from the surrounding hills. The houses of Sperlonga are in typical white-washed Mediterranean style, many of which with an amazing view from their old balconies and spectacular roof terraces. Every street has a surprise to offer. Whitewashed houses are clustered together on a steep headland, and the streets warren-like stairways bring you to unexpected terraces above the sea. The old town is compact and charming, and a pleasure to explore.
I suggest you spend a night of sleep at the Grand Hotel Le Rocce, only 10 minutes by car from Sperlonga.
Sperlonga is also a good starting place in order to visit some of the most prestigious places around Italy such as Pompei and Ercolano, “La Reggia di Caserta“, Monte Cassino Abbey, and the beautiful islands as Capri, Ischia, Ponza and Ventotene.
For sure in Sperlonga you can try so many typical different sea dishes, but what you really don’t want to miss is to try the real mozzarella di bufala. When you want to eat the real one, you should always ask about “bufala campana Dop”. The best Italian cheese factories are in the Campania region, and one of the top ten best Italian mozzarella of bufala is Casearia Casabianca in Fondi – a few kilometers from Sperlonga.
If you wish to spend a few days relaxing by the sea in the coastal area between Rome and Naples, Sperlonga is for sure an attractive base.
Every Italian place hides a secret ready to be discovered – and Eleonora shares some of those here on Italia Living.