San Felice Circeo, a thousand-year history
San Felice Circeo is located in the Pontine Marshes, divided between the promontory and the flat part of the beaches.
A Volscian city, it was conquered by the Romans and then destroyed by the Saracens. It passed into the hands of the Knights Templar and then, for four centuries, into those of the noble Caetani family. It was later owned by the Ruspoli family and then by the Polish prince Stanislaus Poniatowsky until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
San Felice Circeo is a town characterised by the imprint of a thousand-year history combined with the vibrancy of nature.
This area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. This is proven by the numerous archaeological finds collected in the permanent exhibition Homo Sapiens et Habitat, opened inside the Torre dei Templari in the old town centre, and the sea and land caves. It was in a cave, Grotta Guattari, that archaeologist Alberto Carlo Blanc unearthed the skull of the Neanderthal man in 1939. A perfectly preserved skull, placed in the centre of a circle of stones, in an environment sealed by a landslide. A veritable time machine that takes you back some sixty thousand years. Special attention should be paid to the walls of Roman heritage, which date back to the 6th-4th centuries B.C. So huge that the ancient populations thought only the Cyclopes could have built them. Their majesty accompanies the summit of the promontory and the town centre and in several places, they stand almost sheer above the sea. Truly impressive.
It is also a place that has always been characterised by its link with the enchantress Circe, between myth and archaeology. Ulysses is said to have stopped on the coast of lower Lazio on his way back to Ithaca, between Terracina and an island-like promontory: Mount Circeo. According to Homer, Ulysses and his companions, after leaving the land of the Laestrygonians, landed on the island Aeaea, which the Latin authors make coincide precisely with the promontory of Circeo. Ulysses stayed here for a year, bewitched by the enchantress Circe. Where exactly Circe lived no one knows, but it was on Mount Circeo that, in ancient times, the Romans built a temple dedicated to her. The legend may therefore have a kernel of truth. The Promontory in fact seen from Anzio appears as the profile of a lying woman's face, identified with the enchantress Circe, while seen from Gaeta it appears as an island, the ancient Island of Aeaea.
Speaking of myths, did you know that the remains of Italian film legend Anna Magnani rest in the town's small cemetery? The Italian actress spent much of her time in her beloved villa in San Felice Circeo and it is here that she wanted to rest forever. A love that San Felice Circeo
repaid by naming a cinema after her.
This area is perfect for those who love green and slow tourism, made up of walks and excursions. In the Circeo Park, there are trekking trails of all levels of difficulty that wind through an evocative and fascinating environment. Routes that lead you to get to know the landscape, flora, fauna and historical-archaeological values of this unique territory. Standing out against the Circeo promontory is Torre Paola, a 16th-century coastal tower erected to defend against Saracen attacks. Of the six towers in the Circeo National Park, it is the only one still intact that still observes the Pontine Islands, the wild beach of Sabaudia and the coastal lakes.
As this is the territory of the Pontine Marshes, the PDO Buffalo Mozzarella and PDO Buffalo Ricotta from Campania reign on the table. Exceptional in every season. And the Circeo DOC is strictly in the glasses.