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Sperlonga is a coastal town in the province of Latina, Italy, about halfway between Rome and Naples. Located near the Via Appia, but also on the edge of the Pontine Marshes, Roman “Spelunca” (Latin for cave or grotto) was only known for the grotto on the coast, after which it was named. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, in the VI century, the ruins of the imperial residence served as refuge for the local people. In 1534 the small center was destroyed by the Ottoman fleet under Barbarossa.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Sperlonga recovered and acquired some noble residences, and agriculture flourished. However, the touristic expansion occurred only after the opening of the coastal road Terracina-Gaeta (the via Flacca) in 1957, the building of which led to the discovery of the sculptures in the grotto. Sperlonga’s main cultural attraction is the museum erected in the grounds of the former Villa of Tiberius showing the groups of sculpture found in the grotto celebrating the deeds of Odysseus. The villa included a grotto where some famous sculptures, now housed in the museum, have been found: these portrayed the assault of Scylla to Odysseus’ ship, the blinding of Polyphemus, the theft of the Palladium and Odysseus lifting Achilles’s corpse. Sperlonga is mostly a tourist town thanks to it beaches, a long beach on its west side going all the way to Terracina, and a series of short beaches and rocky cliffs on its east side towards Gaeta. It has a ten kilometres long coastline and a clean sea water considered to be one of the most beautiful Italian seasides, in fact, it has the “Blue Flag” which is awarded annually, and solely by the FEE, in order to ensure continued compliance with environmental criteria. The last part of the beach, full of caves and natural hollows, is named “Lido delle Bambole”. Nearby there is a little oasis of blue (made by WWF) which lets anyone to walk in the nature.