Formia, one of the main municipalities of the Province of Latina within the Gulf of Gaeta, has very ancient origins. It was founded by the Laconi and was given the name “Formiae” by the Romans from the term “Hormia”, which means “excellent landing place,” due to the port’s safety. According to legend, Ulysses’ boats landed here, but only one escaped the Lestrigoni, ancient cannibal giants. The modern city was formed by the merger of three smaller towns: Maranola, Mola, and Castellone. It’s just over an hour and 15 minutes from Latina’s center and midway between Rome and Naples, so it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the region.
The ancient core of Formia is separated into three villages: Mola, Castellone, and Maranola, where we may find medieval and Roman monuments, religious structures, and the dock. A system of defensive walls, commissioned by Emperor Charles II of Anjou and utilized as an entrance to the Gaeta fortification, marked the settlement of Mola, a marine and commercial sector. The tower of Mola, as well as the rest of the Angevin Castle, are still standing today as part of this defensive system. The church of San Lorenzo and San Giovanni Battista, which were built between 831 and 1566 and were divided by a wall until the 18th century, was destroyed in the 19th century, making them a single church with two naves.
Then there’s Castellone, a mysterious combination of Roman and medieval fortifications built to defend itself against maritime assaults. The Castellone tower, the sole surviving tower of the 12 that marked the city’s defensive walls, contains stratifications from three different times, one dating back to the earliest Roman settlement, one of reinforcement from the Republican era, and the tower built by the Caetani family.
The Roman Theater, located within the neighborhood, is where, according to legend, the martyrdom of the bishop of Antioch and afterward of Saint Erasmus of Formia occurred on June 2, 303 AD, during the terrible Christian persecutions. Here is also the Roman Cistern, a magnificent hydraulic work built during the Roman imperial age and the largest Roman cistern that can be visited. The Cisternone opens its doors every second Sunday of the month.
Finally, the Borgo di Maranola is distinguished by a number of churches, including the Annunziata, Santa Maria ad Martyres, which has magnificent baroque altars and a terracotta crib from 1700, and San Luca Evangelista, which has a medieval crypt that houses a dedicated wall painting to the Madonna del Latte cult.
Tomb of Cicero
The Tomb of Cicero in Formia is a funerary monument of the Augustan age (columbary tomb), consisting of a central plant and concrete cylinder, placed at the entrance of the City of Formia, arriving from Itri towards the city center. The tomb’s attribution to Cicero is uncertain, but the site’s proximity to the area where he had one of his opulent houses built would corroborate the theory. Cicero is claimed to have been slain in his Formianum home after attempting to flee the sea to avoid Marco Antonio’s vengeance.
The mausoleum is a 24-meter-high tower constructed of limestone blocks with a truncated square pyramidal base measuring 17 meters on each side and 9 meters in height. It is covered by an annular ceiling erected in the middle on a circular section pillar of stone parts and encloses a high circular cell interspersed with six niches in opus-testaceum. The main purpose of the circular concrete tower, which was formerly clad in marble, is to raise the tomb to maximum view.
The National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum of Formia, also known as the ‘Stalloni dei Borboni,’ was created in 1997 as an extension of a former Antiquarium established in 1968, which was destroyed during World War II. Numerous Roman era artifacts, primarily sculptures of outstanding artistic quality, are kept inside, with the majority of them dating from the first century. B.C. and the first century B.C. and the first century B.C. and the first century B The city’s greatest blooming occurred in the year A.D.
The entrance fee to the museum is € 3, reduced by € 1.50.
Hermitage of San Michele Arcangelo
The Hermitage of San Michele Arcangelo, set in the rock and at 1158 meters above sea level, under the summit of the Redeemer, is located on Mount Altino. It was founded in 830 AD. The church’s façade was rebuilt in Gothic style in 1893, while the internal walls and vault drip with the water of a very fresh spring. San Michele’s statue can also be found within.
Formia natural parks
The Parco dei Monti Aurunci, which opened in 1997, is undoubtedly one of Formia’s must-see sights. The medieval village of Maranola serves as the park’s entrance. From there, several paths marked with the traditional red-white flags on trees or rocks lead to the scenic and naturalistic wonders of the mountains. This park and the Aurunci mountains are unique in that they are the only mountain range in Lazio with peaks higher than 1,500 meters above sea level that immediately overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea. In addition to the Parco dei Monti Aurunci in the territory of the municipality of Formia, we find a protected area, on the promontory of Gianola: the Regional Park of the Ulisse Riviera. Within which there is a Blue Oasis that preserves the marine environment.
The Sassolini bay, also known as the pebble beach, is located near Formia in the hamlet of Scauri, a natural inlet between Monte d’Oro and Monte di Scauri, within the Gianola park. You can also go diving in the WWF Blue Oasis, which is located within the Riviera D’Ulisse Regional Park. You can also board ferries to the Pontine islands, a natural wonder of our area, from Formia’s harbor.