Founded by the Laconi in ancient times, the Romans gave the city the name of Formiae. It became a popular tourist destination, luring both those in political power, as well as those in the arts, to its coastline, as well as to the Historical Center, which at the time, had an arena, theater, and everything else that an important Roman city would have. Today, it has a population of approximately 38,000 inhabitants. The Historical Center is a maze of tiny streets, seeming to lead nowhere. I loved getting lost in them, simply wandering around, with no particular destination in mind!No trip to Formia would be complete without a visit to Il Cisternone. This is a large Roman cistern, underneath the Historical Center. It is the second largest Roman cistern in all of Italy, and after 22 centuries, it is now open to the public! It is only possible to visit the cistern as part of a guided tour, so I recommend getting your ticket in advance, or arriving at the ticket office, which is in a building just to the left of the cistern entrance, a bit early. There were other people waiting for the tour, and we could have gone with them, but since they were all Italian, the guide offered to give us our own tour, in English, after he finished with them. He told us to return in thirty minutes, and so that is what we did. We had a private tour of this incredible spot, and it really was something to remember!Another reminder of Formia’s rich history are the remains of the ancient Roman theatre, which today functions as private apartments. The fact that people are still living in this space is incredible! The floor area, where the stage would have been, is now a garden. As one continues downhill, to the more modern section of the city, the roads become more commercial and wider. This is where the main shopping area is, as well as numerous hotels and restaurants. Via Vitruvio is the main shopping street. If you walk along the street, lined with shops of all kinds, you eventually end up in Piazza Vittoria, where you will find the Palazzo Comunale, which houses the Museo Archeologico. Also in Piazza Vittoria, is the Monumento ai Caduti. At the time of our visit, the Museo Archeologico was undergoing renovations, so most of it was closed to guests. We were only allowed into two small rooms. That said, the art that we saw was wonderful, and I can only imagine that once the work on the place is finished, it would be well worth spending an hour or so, there. Taken from an ancient Roman recipe, il Dolce di Cicerone is one of the city’s local delicacies. The cookies are named after the famous Roman orator/philosopher Cicero, who was assassinated just outside of the city, on Via Appia, in 43 BC.
Next up: More from Formia, including a visit to the Torre di Mola!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please check out our archives for more posts from cities such as Sperlonga, Castel Gandolfo, Lecce, and Palermo, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!