25 June 2018   •   Carolina Attanasio

Instaborghi: Sperlonga, Italy, a land of sea and myths

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«This week Instaborghi slips into Sperlonga, Italy, one of the most characteristic coastal villages of the Lazio coast»

To go back to the origins of Sperlonga (official website), protagonist of this week’s Instaborghi (click here for the last episode), we must go back indefinitely. This land was born shrouded in the myth of the sea ​​nymphs, who inhabited the limestone caves of the area: the most beautiful of them, named Sperlonga, made that ladies man named Jupiter fall in love with her. The euphoria of his embrace caused an earthquake, from which today’s cliffs on the coast were born.

One of the first descriptions of Sperlonga was given to us by Plinio, in Roman times, who talked about it as the place of the cavern, made of large caverns that could house entire houses, transformed by the noble Romans into real villas, like that of Tiberius (the most famous). The villas survived until the 10th century, when the pirates forced the inhabitants of the place to take shelter on the spur of San Magno, starting to define the present morphology of the village. After being razed to the ground by Kareiddin Barbarossa in 1500, Sperlonga had to wait until the 18th  century to come back to life, enriched with noble palaces and churches. From the 1950s onwards Sperlonga re-flourished as a popular seaside village, embellished by the marble collection of the ancient Villa di Tiberio, imposing itself as one of the most beautiful views of the Lazio coast.

What to see in Sperlonga, Italy

Before getting lost on the beaches or in the meanders of the local gastronomy, it would be good to visit the Archaeological Museum, which preserves the sculptural findings found in 1957: it is a true epic on marble, still undergoing restoration, which tells the four episodes of the Homeric epos, Ulysses raising the corpse of Achilles, Scilla attacking the ship of Ulysses, the blinding of Polyphemus and the rat of Palladio. The marbles, as we learn, would be the work of the Rhodian sculptors, the same ones who made the Lacoonte at the Vatican famous. The Museum also houses some artifacts from the famous Villa di Tiberio, which you must clearly visit. If you are more inclined to the sea, take a trip to the Torre Truglia Laboratory, housed in the homonymous building, a small gem dedicated to the environmental issues of the marine world.

What to do in Sperlonga, Italy

We are still in a seaside village, and what amazing sea. Sperlonga is one of the most appreciated places on the entire Lazio coast, home to sailing, diving, free climbing, cycle tourism, nature trails. The Blue Oasis, managed by the WWF, is a beautiful corner of the sea very close to the Villa di Tiberio. For those who want to walk, it is possible to embark on excursions along the ancient Via Flacca , which winds along the promontories on the sea, a scenic route worthy of note. From Sperlonga it is also easy to reach the Circeo National Park, considered one of the most pristine coastal habitats, a real blaze of Mediterranean vegetation.

What to eat in Sperlonga, Italy

Basic cuisine, soups and seafood pasta, legumes, marinated dishes: we are on the coast and it is a must to expect seafood cuisine, and good cuisine too! The specialties are sardines or fish soups alla sperlongana, bombolotti with squid sauce or spaghetti with cicadas.

A little curiosity about Sperlonga, Italy

Every year, in September, Sperlonga is awarded the Grotta di Tiberio Prize, as part of the homonymous cultural event that assigns recognition to important figures in the world of academic excellence, who have distinguished themselves for their contribution in the cultural field and scientific. During these days, you can attend conferences, concerts, high-level meetings with leading figures in the world of art and science.

Carolina Attanasio

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