Gaeta was an ancient Ionian colony of the Samians according to Strabo, who believed the name derives from the Greek kaiétas, which means “cave”, probably referring to the several harbors. The town has played a conspicuous part in military history: its fortifications date back to Roman times, and it has several traces of the period, including the 1st-century mausoleum of the Roman general Lucius Munatius Plancus at the top of the Monte Orlando. In the classical age Caieta (Gaeta), famous for its lovely and temperate climate, like the neighbouring Formia and Sperlonga, was a tourist resort and site of the seaside villas of many important and rich characters of Rome. A highly attractive tourist destination is the complex of the Split Mountain. The complex of “Split Mountain” is set in the context of three slits of the rock. Follows a staircase of 35 steps, which leads to deep, evocative central fissure, which, according to Christian tradition, would have formed in the death of Christ. Along the stairs leading into the bowels of the mountain, along the narrow cleft of rock, you may notice on the wall right next to a couplet Latin with the “Hand of the Turkish”, the shape of a hand (five fingers in the rock) that according to the legend, would have formed when an unbeliever turkish sailor leaned on the rock that miraculously became soft under the pressure forming the imprint of his hand. A lot of famous beaches can be found along the coastline, such as: San Vito, Arenauta, Ariana, Quaranta Remi, Sant’Agostino. According to Virgil’s Aeneid, Caieta was Aeneas’ (another legend says Ascanius’) wet-nurse, whom he buried beneath that sand. The beach St.Vito is immediately after the eponymous tower on the headland. Here you can still swim in the clear waters, explore sea caves and coves; relax in the sun exclusive private beach.
Other main attractions of the city include the massive Aragonese-Angevine Castle, the Mausoleum of Lucius Munatius Plancus and the church St John at sea but the town is also notable for its distinctive brand of olives marketed throughout the world (the main production, however, takes place in Itri).