Gaeta & The Beaches

Our summer season is always very busy here in Umbria with family, friends and guests staying at our farmhouse rental arriving weekly, but last week we had a week free and decided to take a quick trip to the sea. With the extreme heat recently, we really couldn’t be away from our garden, chickens, and flowers too long so we asked a friend to cover just one night for us and off we went.

We love the beaches of Le Marche which is our usual seaside spot to visit whenever we can, but for a change, this time we decided to head down to Lazio to explore Gaeta and the beaches that surround it. Gaeta is a city in the province of Latina, in the region of Lazio. Gaeta is set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, and is situated between Rome and Naples.

Gaeta is well known for it’s amazing olives despite the fact the major production of these olives takes place in Itri, a town about 20 minutes from Gaeta. This town also has a long history and its fortifications date back to Roman times. As well as its olives, the area is well known for its beaches that line the coast on either side of Gaeta, and are packed during the warmer summer months.

We thoroughly enjoyed exploring Gaeta, although I must say the town is all but deserted during the day. Late afternoon however, everyone comes out to visit, shop, and stroll the streets. There are also a number of seafood stalls set up across the street from the port that open up every evening when all the Gaetani come out to shop for their evening meal.

We love seafood which is why when we have a few days off we head to the sea, and the seafood in Gaeta was truly exceptional. We had two multi course seafood meals during our short stay, and both were delicious, although the red shrimp I enjoyed one evening were more than memorable.

I had spied the bright red shrimp at the seafood market earlier, and when we dined at Ristorante Odissea later that evening I asked if they had any that I could have as an appetizer. They assured me they had fresh shrimp right off the boat that day and suggested I have them “saltate” or sautéed in a frying pan with olive oil and garlic.

They quite honestly were the best shrimp I have ever had in my life, and although I cannot find fresh red shrimp here in Umbria, I will be cooking shrimp in this same manner often.

Gaeta is a wonderful little town to visit with a quaint narrow street called Via Independenza, packed with fruit and vegetable vendors, seafood stalls, grocery stores, and butcher shops. The street is quiet all day long but by 7pm it is packed with locals and it seems everyone in town is there.

There are a multitude of seafood restaurants and pizzerias in town, and I am told almost all of them are very good due to the abundance of fresh seafood available daily. Despite the brevity of our trip, we returned home refreshed, relaxed, and satiated with our seafood feasts. We thoroughly enjoyed our short break in Lazio, but it is always great to be back home in our little piece of paradise in Umbria.

The shopping street Via Indipendenza getting busy as the day comes to an end.

Like many small towns across Italy, the old men gather in groups to discuss (argue) about politics, sports, or other important life events.

The seafood stalls open up in the evening when the fishing boats come into port.

The most delicious, sweet tasting red shrimp and prawns.

View from Formia looking towards Gaeata.

The beaches of Sperlonga.

Old Sperlonga sitting up on the hill overlooking the beaches.

Sperlonga beaches.

Beaches near Gaeta.

Beautiful Hotel Castello Miramare in Formia where we stayed.

The port at Gaeta.

The gardens with a glorious view at Hotel Castello Miramare.

The busy Via Independenza in the early evening.

Hotel Castello Miramare
Via Pagnano
Formia , 04023
Phone: +390771700138

Ristorante Odissea
Piazza Enrico Tonti 12,
04024 Gaeta, Italia

Deborah Mele
July 2012