Coastal town in the province of Latina, located in the heart of the Gulf of Gaeta and surrounded by gentle hills, Formia (from the greek "hormiai", or "port") has a long history that finds its roots between several legendary stories. It is said, in fact, that the ships of the hero Ulysses landed here, but only his one managed to sail away, while the others were attacked by the Lestrigoni, a tribe of rough and primitive men, famous for being giants and also cannibals.
In ancient times, the favorable geographic location, in proximity to the sea and its mild climate, made of Formia, a residential area, preferred by famous citizens, such as Mamurra, Maecenas and Cicerone, whose tomb is preserved here . The center has pre-Italic origins, as evidenced by the massive polygonal brick walls, still preserved largely along the coast and in the district of Castellone; conquered by the Romans between the V and IV centuries B.C., it became a very popular resort, also strategically important, when the Via Appia was built in 312 B.C.
In 188 B.C. Formia was proclaimed "municipium". After the fall of the Roman Empire, the town submitted the raids of the Barbarians and after being sacked and plundered several times, the population was forced to seek refuge elsewhere, notably in two smaller centers, which later became districts of the nearby Gaeta: Mola di Gaeta and Castellone. For centuries the two suburbs were separated by the lush of citrus groves and became a unique center (Formia, to be precise) only in 1863. During the Second World War the city submitted heavy bombing and a lot of artistic, historic and cultural heritage of the city went lost. Nevertheless, Formia still boasts important artistic and architectural works that attest the importance of this strategic coastal town in the past ages.
In addition to the port with commercial and ferry connections that link with the Pontine islands, Formia features another two other landings (Caposele and Giànola) and several docking areas.
Sites of Interest:
- the Tomb of Cicero, murdered here by his assassins in 43 B.C., the Mausoleum was erected near the Western border of the villa of his property, along the Via Appia;
- the fountain of San Remigio, an old water trough, built along the Via Appia;
- the remains of the Roman Theater, dating to the I century B.C., located in the district of Castellone;
- the Roman Cistern, of the I century B.C., a massive structure in which water was extracted from underground sources and preserved for residents water supply;
- the Cryptoporticoes (I century B.C.), located below the Town's Villa;
- Villa of Mamurra, now part of the protected area of the Regional Park Riviera di Ulisse, is a splendid example of the local wellbeing of the area, erected in the I century B.C., still features the nymph, parts of the thermal baths, the antique cisterns and the large fishing pool, converted into a small harbour in 1930;
- the National Archaeological Museum;
- the Tower of Castellone, built to guard the ancient Northern gate of the district of Castellone. It has an octagonal-shape and features clearly three different construction periods (Roman, Republican and the final works requested by the Caetani family);
- the Tower of Mola, a fine example of Angevin military architecture;
- the Caetani Watchtower, built by Onorato I Caetani;
- the Church of Saint Erasmus, dedicated to the Saint who, according to tradition, died here, martyred in 303 A.D., at few hundred meters from the place where now stands this religious building, acquired in the XI century by Abbey of Monte Cassino and destroyed during the Turkish invasion in the XVI century. It was rebuilt by Charles I and features a longitudinal plan preceded by a narthex, of early Christian tradition;
- the Church of the Annunciation in Baroque style, but with a Gothic structural plan;
- the Church of Santa Maria in Martyres, rich in artworks, such as: Baroque altars, a beautiful crib in terracotta and precious paintings of the XVIII century;
- the Church of St. Luke the Evangelist, with a crypt and an interesting medieval wall fresco, attributed to the cult of the Madonna del Latte;
- the Church of San Rocco, with a valuable XVI century altarpiece, artwork of Girolamo Stabile;
- the small Church of St. Anne (X century).