One day I was searching for a new place to spend my weekend, having a usually low budget and high expectations. I am a kind of traveler who thinks that an open mind is more important than an open wallet while traveling, because keeping your heart open lets beauty to fill you.
This story of three cities (Formia, Gaeta and Sperlonga) is a great example of my words. That weekend gave me much more than I was expecting: weather, incredible considering it was winter; stunning views of the sea and cities; long pleasant walks; much laughter; tasty food and the best company I could ever imagine. Moreover, as you can see instead of one beautiful place I have found three!
No doubt all those lovely moments I experienced wouldn’t be possible without a great Italian man Maurizio, who helped me and my friend experience the beauty of surroundings and feel there as if at home.
I feel lucky I managed to discover these places, as there is a lack of information on them on the internet. I haven’t found any of these in the guidebooks either. The only name I had previously seen was Sperlonga, which is probably the most famous out of three. Luckily for the travelers, all of the three cities are located a short distance from each other. I would really recommend you visit all of them as they are so different and so charming. That could be a problem if you don’t have a car or you have very limited time, however. No matter how long you will stay there I am sure you won’t want to leave.
Formia, Gaeta and Speronga are like undiscovered gems on the bottom of an ocean – pure and beautiful. Even though incredibly different, in my mind all 3 places are inseparable. I visited them in winter, when cities where quite empty and I really enjoyed it! Not that I dislike people, but deep inside my heart I wish those places would never become a touristic mayhem.
Actually, summer is the only time when that particular part of the western coast of Italy becomes populated, mostly by fellow Italian citizens, due to crystal clear waters and white sand beaches, that are less crowded than in the rest of country.
Ready to explore, we have started our trip in Roma Termini. Everything was just perfect, we came to the station in advance, bought tickets and even had time to walk around the station. However, when we came back I realized we can’t find neither Formia nor Gaeta on a huge train schedule board. I was starting to become a little bit nervous, and asked a ticket controller where should we wait for the train. He pointed us towards the Naples train line. I felt something is wrong as the time for the Naples train was different than the one on our tickets. That’s why I asked the other train station worker and he told that everything is ok, we should continue waiting there. Guess what? That was the wrong platform 😀 Apparently there are 2 ways to go to Formia-Gaeta train station, and the best way to find out which one you need is to consult the paper schedule which can be found within the station. I am sure that will help you do better than us.
Eventually we were aboard the train. Maurizio told us a little anecdote about Italian trains: they are always either almost empty or totally packed; we have experienced both that weekend. J It was quite hot inside, but soon I forgot that and started to enjoy the view from the window: mountains, endless meadows, huge unusual stones, lonely houses. If I had a car most probably I would stop a lot. It was hard to imagine that a sea can lay anywhere close till I saw an azure surface with sun reflections on it. Wohoo, welcome to Formia-Gaeta railway station! Just few steps out of it and you can enjoy an amazing scenery of Formia.
Since I love nature, especially sea, I won’t concentrate too much on the historical past of the places, especially given this information could be easily found on Wikipedia.
There are many great places you can enjoy in Formia. Small from first sight, it appears to be quite big and impressive when you start exploring it: narrow streets, traditional houses, plenty of churches and ancient sights are just a fraction of things you can see there. There are two places that caught my attention especially – Gianola park (Parco di Gianola) and mountain Monte Redentore – and I would like to tell you about those in detail.
The nature of Gianola park is always full of life, even in winter. Its green trees, flowers, light breeze and birds singing remind me of lovely spring days of my home country – Lithuania. From shady alleys you can turn onto a narrow overgrown trail and continue the walk along a seaside.
I can’t express my love of the sea enough. Every single seaside is like a different person, who has its’ own very distinctive character and mood. Walking the path, you can see the sceneries of clear blue waves washing dark cliffs, and I swear I could spent all day there without getting bored. At the end of that trail there is a surprise awaiting for you – remains of an ancient Roman port, which you could see on the picture.
The next place I really recommend visiting is a stately mountain Redentore. Depending on your time, mood and physical training, you can either hike or use a car to go there. We have met some beautiful horses on our way there, Unfortunately, I am not a good photographer, but trust me – the views are just stunning: Small neat houses, surrounded by greenery; beautiful hills, long coastline and a sea, that merges with the sky. Such a calm and peaceful place!
How to come?
- The easiest and cheapest way if you come from Rome or Naples is to come by train( Formia-Gaeta railway station). It takes around 1 hour 20 min from Rome. You are already in Formia.
- By car. It will be useful if you have a limited time.