Daytrip: How to get to Palestrina
- August 17, 2020
- Off the beaten path
October heatwaves notwithstanding, autumn is a often mild affair in Rome, as is on the coast of the Lazio region. That is why it makes total sense to plan a daytrip to some of the most scenic beach towns south of Rome (and of course you can do so at a later time, if your travel to Italy is scheduled during peak season!).
We grouped Formia and Gaeta together for this particular daytrip because they share a train station: Formia, the biggest of the two small cities.
“Formia-Gaeta”, as it appears on departure boards, is connected to Rome directly from the central station at Roma Termini, with trains on average roughly every forty minutes. A one way ticket on a regional train (the most common option) is 8,40 EUR per person, with travel time a little under 1 hour and a half.
The train station in Formia is right in the middle of this small city who was founded before Rome and sits by the Appian Way: a holiday destination for many wealthy ancient Romans, it became a crucial location during several ancient conflicts, but the major one was obviously World War II.
Due to its position, close to Anzio and midway between Rome and Naples, Formia was part of the Gustav Line, and heavily bombed as a result. Much of the old city and its defensive walls were destroyed and traces of the war can still be seen on many buildings.
Formia houses an interesting Archaeological Museum, with several outdoors sites handled by this organization – among them, a Roman water tank called Cisternone and the alleged tomb of world-famous Cicero. A perfect departure point for lovers of the outdoors, Formia is also a part of several nature parks which include nearby Aurunci Mountains.
Gaeta is only 7 kilometers north of Formia, but getting there can prove challenging as you have to rely on a bus service operated by the Cotral public company until roughly 10PM on weekdays. There are buses leaving from outside the train station in Formia roughly every two hours, while similar services are also available to reach Sperlonga, which is further north.
It’s fairly easier to hail a taxi – there are several cars right outside the, again, station in Formia. Renting a car is also an option, with several local companies in the city. Or you can plan for our partners at Gianni Conti Car Service to get you there and take you around and then back to Rome!
The same transport options are valid to leave Formia and reach Gaeta, which in spite of its sleepy appearance has a glorious past as one of the famous Maritime Republics of Italy (Venice or Genoa, among others, were part of this “association” too). The alleged birthplace of John Cabot,
Gaeta is also home to the famous tiella, which can be described as a deep dish pizza that is baked instead of fried. It’s not the only thing you can taste while here: seafood is cheap and excellent, and the local cuisine is indebted to that of Naples.
A NATO base is headquartered in Gaeta, which in spite of this heavy military presence remains a mostly medieval town, dominated by an Aragonese castle possibly dating to the 6th century CE.
We’re not aware of any specific guides on these two towns alone, so Wikipedia remains a good initial source of information for both Gaeta and Formia, as their history spans millennia. Because of their milder than average climate, these twin cities are a perfect holiday destination in the summer but can be equally enjoyed in the colder seasons!