Formia today …

Many scholars link the city of Formia to the legendary city inhabited by the cannibal Lestrigoni population which destroyed Ulysses' fleet in the Iliad, while others believe it was the Spartan colony in which Aeneas stopped on his way to Lavinium. More probably, the city was founded by the Aurunci and then occupied by the Volsci. During Roman times, the ancient town of Formiae was one of the most important cities on the Via Appia between Rome and Capua, and, indeed, its position on the Via Appia, its closeness to the sea, the mildness of its climate, the beauty of its environment and its relative closeness to Rome made it one of the best and most sought after holiday locations for wealthy Romans.

Among the visitors to the area were Mamurra and Maecenas, both of whom built villas in the area, although its most famous visitor was undoubtedly Cicero, who loved to spend long periods of time in the area and even sought refuge there on being forced to escape from Rome. Formia is also believed to be the birth place of Vitruvius. During the reign of Hadrian, Formia was raised to the status of Roman colony and continued to flourish as a city until it was occupied by the Longobards. Evidence of this long period of wellbeing is provided by a number of items found under the church of Saint Erasmus following its destruction by the Saracens. Formia was a diocesan centre until well into the 5th century. Unfortunately, the city was seriously damaged by bombing during the second world war.

Formia is now an important seaside resort with long sandy beaches as well as a comfortable base for holiday makers wishing to venture into the Aurunci mountains. Its enchanting bay is generally crowded with sailing boats, water skiers and delta-planers.

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