Gaeta was one of those hidden treasures nestled along the Italian coast that Americans would unlikely know about. Had it not been our preference to drive the non-toll route from Rome to Pompeii, I would never have discovered the tiny gem. We drove past a handful of pretty sandy beaches before finally arriving to the tiny peninsular stretch of land of what is Gaeta.
Every Wednesday from morning until 2pm, Gaeta hosts a market in their town center. Outside market hours, the massive lot is open to free parking. We parked in this lot and walked along the bay into the historic quarter.
Although the peninsula was less than 4 km long, the town packed in a historic castle fort (still in use today by the military), gorgeous cathedrals, a clock tower, a port, beaches, hiking trails, and even seaside grottos. Strolling along the coast and up the hill ended up taking longer than I anticipated because I couldn’t resist stopping to admire the gorgeous scenery. And best of all, there was probably less than a handful of other tourists to share the town with, which was a huge break from Rome.
Centered on Gaeta’s peninsula was a hill and park that divided modern Gaeta with historic Gaeta. Although the peak of the hill housed an ancient Roman mausoleum and even crumbled bunkers from WWII, the hill’s highlights were the views overlooking the town and the beach.
Beautiful. Unique. Relaxing. Beaches and hiking trails. Superb weather year round. These are reasons for getting off the tourist path, and reasons for visiting Gaeta!