The Regional Park
There is aRegional Park of Monte Orlando that was instituted in 1986 because of a series of proposals that were put forth by the local Environmental League.
Evidentally, this was necessary so that the Monte Orlando could be better cared for. It is said that beofe the park, the area had been abused by humans. That abuse has not stopped completely, but it is better.
If you are a nature and/or history lover, you will certainly enjoy this Regional park. The sea-views are breathtaking. The "Montagna Spaccata" is quite a marvel regardless of your believes." The deep splits in the rock may be the effect of geological phenomena or have to do with the death of Christ if you are a religious person.
In addition, for nature lovers, you will be able to enjoy a variety of vegetation (500 have been classified to date). Also, there are beautiful monuments that a manmade such as the "Our Lady" statue and the large Mausoleum. Also, the military lighthouse is also part of this Regional Park.
Having seen all that the Regional Park has to offer at one time or another, I would high suggest that you visit if at all possible.
Piazza Municipio in Gaeta
I have great memories of Piazza Municipio in Gaeta from both the 1997 and 2006 visits.
We parked in the free parking lot in 1997; however, this time , it was a paid parking lot. We would walk under the portico of the Town Hall to get to our apartment building and to Bar Bazzanti, which were right next door.
This town hall was built in 1475, but it has been restored and changed often. Lots of important moments have happened here. In 1915, the Prime Minister made a famous speech foreboding the Italians coming into war. He said, "Italy is ready to any renunciation - even to eating the soldier's noble brown bread" [Giuseppe Napolitano's Del Comune Di Gaeta]
In front of it on the square is the building called "Gran Guardia" that dates back to 1786. It houses the Officers' Club.
Next to the Town Hall is the Pink Building that is a fine aparment [really a condo building by USA standards] where we stayed for two months in 1997. It also houses the Bar Bazzanti and a restaurant and another bar. This is a busy place lined with beautiful buildings.
The back of it looks out over the Gaeta Bay and backs up to the public parking lot.
American MP To The Rescue!
The first day that we arrived in Gaeta, we drove up to the military base looking for information. A young man named Hugh McClure from the state of Kentucky was an MP on duty that day, which was fortunate for us.
He was so kind, so friendly, and so helpful. When he was off duty (about 15 minutes later), he drove us all over Gaeta pointing out places to eat, sites to visit, and places to shop. He also told us about the procedures in the banks, the Post Office, and the speciality shops.
He took us to the Military School for American children of servicemen where they also had a post office, cafe, travel office, bowling alley, gym, and movie theater.
In addition, about a week later, he showed us where to catch a bus, and he went with us via the bus to the train to travel to Rome for the first time.
Once in Rome, he took us on the subway, showed us some of the important sites, and showed us how to "bargain" with the street merchants.
In other words, he educated us about the " ins and outs" of Italy in a short amount of time. It saved us so much trouble and time.
We became good friends with Hugh; he came to our apartment to eat dinner with us; he bought Stamps at the base as well as essentials, which saved us money and effort.
I think we were good for him also because he was married and had children and was quite lonely. We represented home to him. Because of Hugh, we were able to go to the movies two times a week for free at the American School; we were able to go bowling; we used the travel agent to help us with a three-night stay in Sicily; we mailed our letters to the U.S.A. that went directly to New York and then were dispersed to the rest of America. We were able to use the pay phones (with English speaking operators). It was fabulous.
After learning about the American school, we were never apprehensive after that.
Wherever you are, Hugh McClure, thanks so much.
One of the many churches intruding on the skyline
Is this magnificent Church the S S Annunziata originating in 1321.
Annunziata is the one seemingly on the shoreline, on the right and the other is S Francesco. When I finally found Annunziata open and went in, the custodian of the church asked for money (I only had enough on me for a light lunch and water), I showed him what I had with an open hand and he picked it all up. Oh help. No ATM's that I knew of so just had to go without for the rest of the day. Thank goodness I had my bus tickets to get back to Formia and then to my abode.
Borgo, Elena, Porto Salvo: One in the Same
We discovered in 2006 more about the newer section of Gaeta. Its history is not as easy to discover as the Ancient center. Borgo was the name that was given to the area external to the wall of the medieval area.
The first area inhabited outside the historical walls dates to the 9th century with the peasants and fishermen who would gather around the rough defensive castle on the hill that was later called dei Cappuccini. There, the first church was built and dedicated to the patron saints of the town. About 1459,ipeople know that only about 900 people lived outside the walls in the Borgo area but almost 5,000 lived behind the walls. Today, more people live outside the wall than inside the ancient center.
The center portion of the Borgo looks much the same today as it did then with the alleys brancing off the main street [Via Indipendenza]. Via Indipendenza is the "back-bone" of the old part of Borgo. It keeps its same look and has a peculiar charm, a picturesque and ancient air about it.
But, the maritime area of the Borgo has changed a good deal. The days of the Austrian rule lasted 30 years [18th century] and much changed then. The Bourbons conquered Gaeta again, and the Borgo continued to widen and become more populated.
Then the Borgo became an autonomous commune and seperated from Gaeta and was named Elena in honour of Princesss Elena Petrovich of Montenegro, wife of Victor Emmanuel II [future king of Italy]. Some old people still call it Elena; actually it is named Porto Salvo todayP