Cisterna di Latina, located along the Via Appia, the city developed greatly and enjoyed its “golden age” under the dominion of the Caetani family that extended its territory as far as Lake Fogliano. Thanks to its position at the edge of the malaria zone and along the Rome-Naples express railway, Cisterna became the headquarters for the reclamation of the Pontine Mashes. In 1944, during the Allied landing at Anzio, the city was almost totally destroyed by bombardments that razed the old town to the ground. The focal points of Cisterna are the 16th century Caetani Palace with several frescoes by Federico and Taddeo Cuccari and the magnificent caves, the Biondi fountain commemorating the defeat of malaria and the church of Saint Mary of the Assumption. The pride of the city is the Garden of Ninfa, about 15 km away from the city centre.
Cori, founded before Rome, it stands on a small conical hill (398 metres above sea level) behind the Lupone Mount (1378 metres above sea level). Still well preserved, Cori has a characteristic mediaeval urban structure with streets, steps and porticoes. Impressive cyclopean walls, dating back to different ages, run throughout the city from Cori Valle to Cori Monte. Dating back to the Roman period, the Doric tetrastyle temple dedicated to Hercules and the ruins of the Corinthian temple of Castor and Pollux, the so-called Pozzo Dorico, and the intact Chain Bridge at the entrance to the town. There are several buildings and churches, mainly dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, still visible: the church of St. Mary of Pity, built on the temple dedicated to the goddess Fortuna; the church of St. Oliva, with the monumental complex hosting the municipal and local museum, the chapel of the Annunziata, the church of St. Francis, with the annexed monastery, the church of St. Peter and Paul; the gates, built on Roman structures, diving the town into three districts, and, on Mount Ginestra, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Prompt Succour.
Norma, overlooking the Pontine plain, is a beautiful small town located on a spur, named “rave”, at 400 metres above sea level. The history of this town is linked to the nearby Norba, the “stone town”, whose origin dates back to the Volscian invasions. In the archaeological area, enclosed by impressive polygonal walls, remains of roads, terraces, temples, and private and public buildings are still visible.
Situated at 410 m. on a sheer rocky spur (la Rave), this dominates the Pontine plain. The history of Norba is presented inside the Virtual Archaeological Museum through finds, dioramas and visual reconstructions with interactive areas. It is worth mentioning the Barone Palace, the Collegiate Church of Holy Annunciation and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Refuge and the Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel, also known as St. Angel in Monte Mirteto.
The impressive Caetani Castle, built by the Annibaldi family, lords of Sermoneta, from 1264 onwards, overlooks the town of Sermoneta, the Pontine Marshes all the way down to the sea and outlines the medieval town.
However, it was the Caetani family – the house of Boniface VIII who became Pope after Celestine V’s “great refusal” and proclaimed the first Jubilee in 1300, and also suffered the “Anagni slap” – that turned the castle into a true manor, extending and embellishing it with the grand Hall of Barons, magnificent mullioned windows on the façade, frescoes and crenelated walls.
Sezze, located on a hill overlooking the Pontine Marshes, this town is separated from the Sermoneta hills by a small valley run through by the Brivolco river; on its sides is a long reddish fissure called Riparo Roberto, where schematic drawings of prehistoric figures can be seen. Of Volscian origin, the old town of Setia fell under Roman domain. The remains of the polygonal walls, streets and temples are still visible in several parts of town. The medieval urban structure has remained almost intact and develops around the ancient Latin area (castrum durum). The most important monuments include St Mary’s Cathedral, St. Peter’s church, a defence system comprising five towers, as well as rural towers, the remains of the Trevi Castle, the churches of Our lady of Graces, St. Bartholomeus and St. Lucia, and the Bishop’s palaces. The Archaeological Museum (the former Antiquarium) preserves finds proving man’s presence from the last stage of the Palaeolithic period.
The historical mediaeval city centre of Priverno is arranged in a circle around the main square where there are St. Mary’s Cathedral, preserving the skull of St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Town Hall.
Other important constructions are: Palazzo Antonelli, part of the defensive walls with access gates, palaces and tower houses incorporated in the urban structure and external towers. The Bishop’s Palace houses the new Archaeological Museum. A few kilometres away from Priverno, along the S.S. 609 southbound, there is the Fossanova Borough and Abbey, the first example of Gothic-Cistercian architecture in Italy and an absolute masterpiece. The Borough has gained the Orange Flag in 2015.
Terracina, southern gate of the Pontine Marshes, this town is one of the most important tourist attractions in Lazio, not only for its position overlooking the sea, but also for its cultural heritage.
A visual summary of the history of Terracina is afforded by the present-day main square, Piazza del Municipio: sections of the Roman Via Appia, the Emilian Forum, remains of the Roman theatre, and the capitolium. The Middle Age is represented by the splendid St. Cesareus Cathedral, the Palazzo Venditti, the Rosa Tower (currently housing the Civic Museum), and the Frangipane Castle. In the old city centre there are the Purgatory and St. John’s churches, whereas nearby there are the 18th century Palazzo Braschi and Palazzo della Bonifica, and the modern borough with the Town Hall. The main square offers a view on the two symbols of Terracina: the sea and the Temple of Jupiter Anxur, part of the monumental complex of the acropolis, situated on the top of Monte S. Angelo that offers a breathtaking view of the entire gulf and the Pontine Islands.
On the spur of Mount Orlando stands Gaeta, a maritime republic and tourist attraction since Roman times. The urban structure of Gaeta is typically medieval and set around the majestic Angevin-Aragonese Castle forming the so-called St. Erasmus borough. Not far lies the Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity that stands on Mount Orlando, a protected area inside the Riviera di Ulisse Regional Park, overlooking a stretch of seashore proclaimed Blue Oasis. Inside the area of the Sanctuary, it is possible to visit the Grotta del Turco and a fracture in the rock, named Montagna Spaccata (Broken Mountain), both linked to Christianity. Eight years the city host Sea Economy International Fair called Yacht Med Festival.
Formia, in the heart of the Gulf of Gaeta, is popular holiday resort and a favourite location for Roman noblemen that have built houses and even tombs, like the one dedicated to Cicero who was killed and buried here. The history of Formia (from the Greek “hormiaj”, meaning “landing place”) is one of the oldest cities in the southern border of the Pontine Marshes: according to legend, Ulysses landed there with his fleet, but was the only one who managed to save his ship because of the presence on the territory of indigenous cannibal giants, the Lestrigons. Formia is rich in vestiges: the medieval borough of Castellone, originally constructed on a pre-Roman sarcophagus; the seaside and commercial borough of Mola, built on pre-existing Roman constructions, with the great medieval tower; the Roman port of Giànola, and the Romanesque and Bourbon one of Caposele, the Roman water tanks, the Roman fountain at the edge of the Via Appia, and the remains of the aqueduct and Roman theatre, the cryptoporticos of the municipal gardens.
Minturno was founded by pre-Roman populations who inhabited the area and its origin is somehow traceable to the conquest of southern Italy by the Greeks. The coast of Marina di Minturno is at the border between Lazio and Campania region and is characterised by two long beaches bound by two promontories, the Golden Mount on one side and the Silver Mount on the other.