Sperlonga

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Sperlonga
—  Comune  —
Comune di Sperlonga

Coat of arms
Sperlonga is located in Italy
Sperlonga
Location of Sperlonga in Italy
Coordinates: 41°16′N 13°26′E / 41.267°N 13.433°E / 41.267; 13.433
CountryItaly
RegionLazio
ProvinceLatina (LT)
Government
 • MayorRocco Scalingi
Area
 • Total18 km2 (7 sq mi)
Elevation55 m (180 ft)
Population (31 December 2010)
 • Total3,277
 • DensityBad rounding here180/km2 (Bad rounding here470/sq mi)
DemonymSperlongani
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code04029
Dialing code0771
Patron saintSt. Leo and St. Roch
Saint daySeptember 2–5
WebsiteOfficial website
 
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Sperlonga
—  Comune  —
Comune di Sperlonga

Coat of arms
Sperlonga is located in Italy
Sperlonga
Location of Sperlonga in Italy
Coordinates: 41°16′N 13°26′E / 41.267°N 13.433°E / 41.267; 13.433
CountryItaly
RegionLazio
ProvinceLatina (LT)
Government
 • MayorRocco Scalingi
Area
 • Total18 km2 (7 sq mi)
Elevation55 m (180 ft)
Population (31 December 2010)
 • Total3,277
 • DensityBad rounding here180/km2 (Bad rounding here470/sq mi)
DemonymSperlongani
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code04029
Dialing code0771
Patron saintSt. Leo and St. Roch
Saint daySeptember 2–5
WebsiteOfficial website
Grotto of Tiberius.

Sperlonga is a coastal town in the province of Latina, Italy, about halfway between Rome and Naples.

Surrounding towns include Terracina to the West, Fondi to the North, Itri to the North-East, and Gaeta to the East.

The beach of Sperlonga.

Contents

History

Sperlonga was an ancient Roman resort: The Roman emperor Tiberius built here a famous villa, including one of the grottoes (Latin: speluncae) which gave the name to the town.

After the fall of the Western Empire, in the 6th century, the ruins of the Imperial residence served as refuge for local people. Later the population began to move to the nearby promontory of St. Magnus, in order to escape the unhealthy marshes and the Saracen attacks. The danger posed by the Saracens is made clear by the presence of many watchtowers all along the coast to Gaeta. In 1534 the small centre was destroyed by Barbarossa.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Sperlonga recovered and acquired some noble residences, and agriculture flourished. However, the touristic expansion occurred only after the opening of the coastal road Terracina-Gaeta (the via Flacca) in 1957.

Truglia Tower.

Main sights

Sperlonga's main cultural attraction is the museum erected on the ground of the former Villa of Tiberius showing many statuary founding celebrating the deeds of Odysseus. According to Suet. Tib. 30, the roof of the grotto collapsed while Tiberius was dining. Supposedly Sejanus rushed to save Tiberius, for which Tiberius in gratitude promoted him, launching his rise to power. Tiberius moved to Capri after 26 AD.

The villa included a grotto where some noteworthy sculptures, now housed in the museum, have been found: these portrayed the assault of Scylla to Odysseus' ship, the blinding of Polyphemus, the theft of the Palladium and Odysseus lifting Achilles's corpse. The works have been attributed to Rhodian sculptors Hegesandros, Athenedoros, and Polydoros, and are thought to be the same authors of the group of "Laocoön and His Sons" (as attributed by Pliny the Elder). (The sculptures on view at the museum were clearly created by artists from Tinos in the Cyclades as can be seen on the base of Polifemo's blinding). Yet whether the very same artists are responsible is questionable. Some scholars believe them to be related, but not the same people; apart from Athenedoros (II) who was the last to be credited as an artist on the Laocoon group, but first to be credited with the Scylla series - suggesting that he was the youngest during the creation of the Laocoon group, but eldest artist who worked on the Scylla group. Furthermore, the differentiation in 'classicism' between the two set of works implies that one preceded the other with separation, and thus that not all artists are the same people, but descendents.

The most ancient church is that of Santa Maria (early 12th century), currently closed for restorations which have disclosed the presence of precious mediaeval mosaics.

Sperlonga is mostly a tourist town thanks to it beaches, a long beach on its west side going all the way to Terracina, and a series of short beaches and rocky cliffs on its east side towards Gaeta.

Transportation

The main connection is that by road from Terracina and Gaeta. The nearest railways station is that of Fondi-Sperlonga, on one of the two Rome-Naples main lines (the one going via Formia).

Twin towns

External links

Media related to Sperlonga at Wikimedia Commons