The Ex-Chiesa di San Biagio or, as it was known before, the Chiesa di Sant Antonio Abate, was destroyed during World War II. Today, all that remains of this ancient structure is a sole altar wall. Those of us living in places like the United States read about the great wars in our textbooks, and maybe some of us might sit down, and watch a film or two that take place during that horrific period of time, but it is not until you are walking down the streets where actual conflicts took place, and see the damage that was inflicted, that war really hits home! Almost every place that I’ve traveled in Italy has some sort of scar from the conflicts that have taken place there. Gaeta is no exception. The Porta Carlo V was part of the defensive system built for the city by Charles V. It was the main entrance into the city for those traveling by land. In 1660, a chapel was built inside of the gate by the then ruler of Gaeta, Don Alonso de Monrroy, as a form of gratitude for having escaped an assassination attempt. The chapel houses a lovely portrait of Santa Maria de la Soledad. Across the street from the Porta Carlo V, you can see remnants of ancient walls. Before long, we ended up in Piazza Diciannove Maggio, one of the city’s main piazzas. The Monument to Jose Gervasio Artigas was a gift to the city of Gaeta. It was presented to the city in 1960, when the then-president of Uruguay, S. E. Benito Nardone, visited. As in the rest of the city, preparations were underway in the piazza for the big holiday festival, which was to begin in a few days. The Palazzo Comunale, which houses most of the city’s municipal offices, has a lovely tower with a bell and clock on the top.The surrounding streets are a combination of residential and commercial properties, and were fun to explore.At the foot of Corso Cavour, you will find the lovely Fontana di S. Francesco, which on occasion, has dancing waters.It seemed as if everywhere we went, we ran into another Christmas display. The city obviously takes the Festival of Lights seriously! I was just sad that we wouldn’t be there to see them all lit up!The Chiesa di San Giacomo Apostolo, or San Giacomo di Terra Rossa, as it is also known, dates from 1517, and can be found on Via della Indipendenza, in the Porto Salvo neighborhood. The church was damaged during the war, but has since been restored.Porto Salvo is a wonderful area to walk around in. This is working-class Gaeta. You immediately feel like a resident, walking through the tight streets, lined with shops and restaurants. It was getting close to the time that we were supposed to meet our landlord, to see if the water issue had been resolved, so we began to head back towards the apartment. We made it up to the apartment, only to discover that there was still no water of any sort. I tried to call the landlord, who had not shown up to meet us, and there was no answer on his cell phone. So, I did the only thing that I could think of, and that was to call Booking.com. They immediately told us to go to a nearby hotel, as it was unthinkable that anyone would expect guests to stay in a location, with no running water. They said that they would handle the rest, as far as dealing with the apartment’s owner was concerned. So, that is exactly what we did. We grabbed our bags, and began the long walk down the stairs — not an easy task with large suitcases, let me tell you! We later found out that certain areas of the city were without water, due to a severe dry spell that the entire region had gone through, the summer before. While most of the city did have running water, and things were functioning normally, the area where the apartment was located still did not. The landlord should never have accepted our reservation under those conditions, but what was done, was done, and now we just had to make the best of it. We were able to book a room at the Gajeta Hotel Residence, for the duration of our stay. We settled into our room, and then after resting a bit, headed out for a bite to eat, before calling it a night.
Next up: More from bella Gaeta, including a visit to Cattedrale dei Santi Erasmo e Marciano!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may occur. If you have enjoyed this post, please check out our archives for more posts from Gaeta, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!