Sperlonga, once a popular destination for Hollywood legends, authors, and actors, is nestled midway between Rome and Naples. The strikingly white, cliffside town, complemented by its Blue Flag beaches and the pristine Tyrrhenian sea, is a testament to the essence of ‘la dolce vita’.
This tranquil haven provides Italians an escape from the bustling streets of Rome and Naples, unlike the tourist-heavy white towns of Ravello or Positana that typically attract droves of American visitors.
During the 1950s and 60s, Sperlonga was a preferred getaway for Hollywood scriptwriters, actors, and stars such as Brigitte Bardot, Marlene Dietrich, Cy Twombly, and Arthur Miller, who sought respite from the film sets.
Your journey from Rome to this lesser-known pearl will start with a 90-minute train ride to Fondi Sperlonga station, followed by a 25-minute bus ride to the coast. The entry into Sperlonga is picturesque, weaving through vineyards and farmlands laden with olives, tomatoes, and lemons basking in the sunshine.
Sperlonga’s golden Blue Flag beaches extend for miles, and several hotels offer sun loungers for local families to soak up the waning summer sunshine.
The “Old Town” of Sperlonga, with its medieval whitewashed streets that wind up the cliff, is another visual treat. After a little uphill navigation, a charming piazza unfolds with bars, shops, and restaurants. The Old Town is an ideal spot to explore quaint eateries peppered around the twisting streets and to enjoy the panoramic views of the breathtaking coastline.
Unspoiled by mainstream tourism, Sperlonga retains its authentic Italian allure. Expect to encounter non-English-speaking waiters, freshly hung laundry, and older gentlemen animatedly conversing on the streets.
The Torre Truglia, perched above the petite harbor, is a recognizable landmark. Dating back to 1532, the tower, resembling a giant sandcastle, is a prominent feature of Sperlonga’s coastline. Despite multiple devastations, including a Turkish assault in 1623, the structure now serves as the Maritime Environment Education Centre of the Regional Nature Park “Riviera d’Ulisse”.
The Villa of Tiberius, an open-air Roman archaeological site with fascinating caves, is a short stroll along the beach from Sperlonga Old Town. Visitors can wander freely amongst the ancient ruins, and imagine the extravagant parties that once took place in the vast grotto.
A walk through the ruins and along the golden beach leaves one wondering why Sperlonga remains off the international tourism radar, considering its unchanged charm since its 50s and 60s star-studded era. Perhaps, Sperlonga prefers its solitude, maintaining its genuine Italian allure, infused with a touch of nostalgic glamour.
To reach Sperlonga, board a train at Stazione Termini, heading towards the Fondi-Sperlonga station. This station lies on the primary Rome-Naples route: opting for a slower train, like a Diretto, can be a cost-effective choice. Upon arrival at Fondi station, buses are available that head to both Fondi and Sperlonga – make sure to verify which one you’re boarding.