All I knew about Sperlonga was what I had read in my guide book..."The pick of Lazio's southern coastal towns, Sperlonga is a fashionable summer spot with a steeply stacked medieval centre and two sandy beaches either side of a rocky promontory." I also knew that the Villa of Tiberius was located there, which just happened to surround a sea cave used by Tiberius. Honestly, I was in when I heard there was sea cave. What was even better is that is a nice day trip from Rome via the rail system. What we found at Sperlonga was even better than what I could have imagined.
We took the regional train out of the Termini station and rode for about an hour and a half southeast of the city. I was even able to see the remains of some of the still standing ancient Roman aqueduct structures that lead out of the city. As we left the outskirts of Rome behind the landscape began to change. Instead of rolling hills like on our way to Assisi yesterday the landscape became flatter that gradually evolved into valleys next to larger and larger hills and then mountains. Periodically nestled in the hills and mountains were villages and sometimes even what appeared to be medieval fortresses and walls. Olive tree groves and grapevines became more and more prevalent. I then started to see more palm trees and even cacti along the rails. I will say things seem very dry. The fields are golden because it looks like a lot of the grass has died. Since I have been here it has not rained at all (which is great for me, but not so much for this area). And it looks like the temperatures are starting to climb. Sorry about that tangent. Let's get back on track- get the railway humor-I know Mr. Klusman would!
When we pulled into the Fondi-Sperlonga station we were directed to a bus that would take us directly to Sperlonga. At this point, all we could see was mountains and quite a bit of industrial buildings. I was starting to question why we had come here. And then we turned a corner and pulled into a beautiful medieval town that was nestled into a cliff and walked across the street...Please see the view that opened up before us under the AP Studio Art tab under Artworks. This amazing expansive view of the sea and the cliffs took my breath away.
After a short lunch break we were off to find the Villa of Tiberius. We walked down the rambling steps and alleyways of the city to lead us down the cliff side towards the beach. I have posted a number of pictures of the city (It was very hard for me to pick which ones to post. I have quite a few). We were unsure of exactly how far away the Villa was in comparison to where we started, but we knew it was along the stretch of beach, so we just started walking. Honestly, I don't think there is ever a bad time to walk on the beach, so none of us saw it as a hardship even if we were going the wrong way. As we curved around one of the sea walls the stretch of beach opened up again and revealed a large crevice in the cliff a distance away. It turned out that it was the Sea Cave that Tiberius built his villa around and in. I really don't think I have adequate words to describe the massive cave space that was carved into the hillside. So, I will say I totally geeked out over the space and couldn't stop taking pictures. Therefore, I will let the pictures do the talking for me. See them at the AP Studio Art tab. This space is definitely one of my top places that I have seen so far on this trip. We were able to explore the area and the museum connected to it for at least an hour. The crazy thing is that this space was not even discovered until 1954 when the Italian government was trying to build a road. They believe that most of it isn't even excavated yet.
Afterwards we were able to spend a couple of hours relaxing in the unbelievably clear water of the Tyrrhenian Sea. See the view that I had from our cabana in the posted pictures. The waves were gently rolling, perfect for floating on your back to look at the cliffs and mountains surrounding the water, which is precisely what I did. The only downside was that I completely forgot to put sunscreen on the tops of my feet... As most of you know, I am not a tanner, never was, never will be. Let's just say my feet are a little red today with flip flop lines on them. I'm am sure that my kids will make sure that I remember this one.
This was one Italian memory that I will truly treasure. I feel so blessed to have these experiences. Ciao!