Story by Barbara and Manos Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis
Ulysses - archetypal hero of the Odyssey Homer’s epic morality tale of folly and adventure, wisdom and foolishness, loyalty and betrayal – purportedly journeyed along the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the coast of Lazio, southeast of Rome.
In Homer’s day, the waters between Italy and Sicily were thought as fraught with hidden horrors awaiting the adventurer willing to leave the safety of home for uncharted seas and lands. According to Homer, Ulysses found monsters, giants, and bewitching creatures galore in these waters; while on our “odyssey” we found a region filled with lovely seaside hotels, beautiful sand beaches, stunning vistas, and ancient ruins that can be explored without hoards of sightseers blocking our access or cannibalistic giants hurling rocks at us.
Food from the sea, fresh as can be, and a warm friendly reception from its inhabitants, make this a go-to area when visiting either Rome or Naples.
Our journey southeast of Rome centered mainly between the ancient Appian Way - the longest Roman road dating to 312 BC - and the sea, where we visited both seaside and mountaintop towns such as Formia, Gaeta, Minturno, Sperlonga, Sermoneta, Ninfa, Sabaudia, Terracina, and Norma. Rome is the largest city in the Region of Lazio and by far the most well known, but all of Lazio has a rich history that spans millennia and there are fascinating ancient and modern sights to explore once you leave the city and head for the surrounding countryside.
By the way, for World War II buffs, the town of Latina, second largest town in the Region of Lazio after Rome, has a museum - Piana delle Orme - of rare ordinance salvaged from the WWII fighting at Anzio, such as a Curtis P40 (Kittyhawk), an amphibious M4 Sherman DD (also known as a Donald Duck)
and a German Messerschmitt Me 262, the first military jet to fly successfully during WWII, plus other newer exhibits in an expanded aviation museum that includes jets and large transport planes. For information visit www.pianadelleorme.it
Long a playground for both ancient and modern-day Italians, one of the many highlights of our journey was a visit to the Tiberius Villa along the Sperlonga coast. Tiberius was the second Emperor of Rome and his villa was one of opulence and indulgence where his every whim was carried out. There is little left, except the foundation walls of the villa itself, but Tiberius was a great fan of Ulysses and in a large natural cave on the site by the sea, he had built a theater for general bacchanalia and for staged performances of Ulysses’ journey.
Huge statues of Cyclops the one-eyed giant, Circe the temptress, and Scylla the six-headed she-dog, along with life-size depictions of Ulysses and his men that once were set in and around the cave, have been partially restored and can be seen in the adjoining museum. The statues are Hellenistic (created by sculptors from Rhodes) and date from the 2nd-century BC. In Hesiod's Theogony we find that Circe bore to Odysseus three sons: Agrius, Latinus (after whom the area was supposedly named), and Telegonus who ruled over the Tyrsenoi, i.e. the Etruscans.
After our visit we stopped for lunch at a seaside hotel. An infinite variety of seafood, fresh from the sea, and local specialties fresh from the garden plus a lovely Falanghina wine greeted us in a spread fit for Tiberius himself.
© May 2022 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.
In this issue: