What to see and do in Gaeta
The exploration of the city begins from Gaeta Vecchia, the old town. The The Aragonese-Angevine Castle, visitable during the weekends and holidays, dominates the view. Continue towards the cathedral of Gaeta to admire its bell tower, a mix of Romanesque, Moresque and Byzantine styles. Inside the cathedral, go down inside the crypt to view the ceilings and floors of Neapolitan inspiration. The next stop is the Sanctuary of the Annunziata, another hidden gem of Medieval Gaeta. Today, there are three naves, but in the past there were an impressive seven. On the right of the alter, there is a small door that leads to the sacristy; from here, then, continue to discover the Gold Chapel, for many years hidden from the worshippers regardless of its magnificence. If the previous two places of worship stand out for the richness in decorative elements, the same cannot be said of the Saint Francis Temple. Nevertheless, the latter remains a mandatory stop for its strategic and scenic position: set on a hill and at the end of many steps leading up to it, it offers an incredible view over the Medieval part of the city and the entire gulf of Gaeta. It is perhaps one of the best panoramic locations to photograph.
Elena old town
It is the most authentic artery of the city, rich in connections with the town’s past as a seaside village. Old Elena (this is the name it that this part of Gaeta took on for various decades) attracts visitors because here ancient traditions are relived: there are still street vendors of fruits and vegetables, fish and sacred shrines in every alley.
In May, Marian month, it is not rare to find priests crowding the alleys of Gaeta escorted by the praying worshippers. Perhaps, it is precisely for this reason that Gaeta is known as the city of a hundred churches. In Via Indipendenza you will find two other significant spots: the first is the mural depicting Mrs. Marisella, historical greengrocer and point of reference for the entire neighbourhood. The second, instead, is the Casa del Pescatore (Fisherman’s House), holiday home in a glimpse painted white and blue, in a characteristic alley of Gaeta.
Montagna Spaccata and hiking on Monte Orlando
What to see in Gaeta is not the only thing one ask when arriving in this wonderful place: the stories and legends about the split mountain (Montagna Spaccata) are perhaps what most draws tourists to Gaeta. One cannot help but notice the hand print in the rock left by the miscreant Turkish sailor. Visit the sanctuary and then go hiking! Most of the area of Gaeta coincides with that of the Riviera di Ulisse Regional Park, including the urban oasis of Monte Orlando on site. To alternate historical, artistic and sports trails during your visit, adventure out onto Monte Orlando to admire its infinite species of wildlife and the cliffs overlooking the sea. There are various trails: you will see gun-powder storage buildings of the Bourbon period, the Roman mausoleum dedicated to Lucius Munatius Plancus and you will see Medieval Gaeta from above, in one of the most evocative glimpses of the entire Riviera di Ulisse.
The sea and the beaches
The city of Gaeta is not just history and culture. It boasts a crystal-clear sea whose beauty has several times been recognised with awards and honours like the blue flag. It is precisely in the blue water and in the green parks that the most fun experiences are enjoyed. Not-to-be-missed, Arenauta beach and Serapo beach. From the 7 beaches of Gaeta, the Arenauta (or Trecento Gradini Beach), is among the most striking: it is not visible from the Flacca coastal road because of a rock protecting it and, precisely for its privacy, in the past it was a favourite destination for naturists. Still today, it remains one of the wildest stretches of the entire gulf. Approximately 1.5 km in length, Serapo is perhaps the most beautiful beach in Gaeta, as well as one of the most popular thanks to its beach clubs with efficient services. Easy to reach from the centre and from Medieval Gaeta, it sits on the slopes of Monte Orlando. Offshore, it is possible to admire what would seem to be a shipwreck at first glance, but is actually a rock which, over the years, has taken on a shape that is characteristic of a ship.