Itinerary Sperlonga - Latina Tours
Comes from the natural caves (speluncae) which look over the sea, the most famous of which is the cavern of Tiberius.Sperlonga is a small settlement entrenched around the top of the rocky headland of Monte Magno, jutting out to sea. The village owes its name to the large natural grotto or spelunca that opens out on this coastline. It is where the Emperor Tiberius decided to build his holiday residence and the cave is in fact known as Tiberius' Grotto. A National Archaeological Museum was built nearby along the Via Flacca to house the findings from the cave and is visited by many tourists, in particular by foreigners. The history of mediaeval Sperlonga is that of a small fishing village often forced to face attacks from the sea, such as the Saracen raids. In order to create a defensive line, four towers were built: the Torre Centrale, now undistinguishable from the village buildings, the Torre del Nibbio, the Torre Truglia at the entrance to the small harbour, and the Torre Capovento. For centuries Sperlonga was cut off from the main communication roads and so kept its natural environment intact.
History of Sperlonga
• Roman era, Pliny refers to the “place of the cavern”; Strabone adds “here very large caverns open up containing rich, large dwellings”. The natural hollows which had attracted the Roman nobles, who transformed them into luxurious villas (such as the one belonging to Tiberius), will be abandoned towards the 10th cent., when pirate raids will force the population to take shelter on the outcrop of St. Magno.
• 10th cent. AD., the name continues to be documented in a manuscript which speaks of the castrum Speloncae. The castle was surrounded by walls and, like many coastal areas, had a small church dedicated to St. Peter, the fisherman. From the 9th cent. onwards and throughout the Middle Ages, Sperlonga is a fishing village living constantly in terror of raids by the Saracens.
• 1135, the church of Sanctae Mariae de Spelonche is mentioned in the Codex Caietanus.
• 1379, the anti-pope Clemens 7th, whilst fleeing from Agnani after the defeat of his militia, seeks refuge in Sperlonga.
• 1534, the Saracen pirate, Khair al-Din Barbarossa, conquers and destroys the village.
• 1622, Sperlonga once again falls into the hands of the Turks.