Sand, sun, sports (and Roman poets) in Formia
I had never been to Formia – in southern Lazio, very close to the border with Campagna – before dropping my son off there for a track and field camp.
The seaside town of about 38 000 people is in a dramatic spot, developed along the sea with Mount Altino rising dramatically just behind it. This position is said to create a favorable climate.
It is also only a few kilometers from the town of Gaeta (see my earlier post), and there are fabulous views over that medieval town from Formia.
In Ancient Roman times it was known as Formiae, and it was an important community along the Via Appia – still an important thorough-way today.
Mecenate, the wealthy patron of the arts in Ancient Roman times had a sumptuous summer villa here, as did the famed Roman poet Cicero.
It was to this villa that Cicero would retire when he was placed on a death warrant over his writing opposing the power in Rome.
Unfortunately, it was in Formia where he would die – at the hands of the soldiers supporting Marc Antony who came for him on 7 December 43 B.C.
Cicero did not try to defend himself or flee from his attackers.
Legend has it that, before he bent his head, his final words were: “There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly.”
Cicero was beheaded and his right hand (the hand in which he wrote the criticism of Marc Antony) were cut off and displayed in the Roman Senate. His tomb is just outside Formia.
Anyone who tells me that politics today is more divisive than at any time in the past clearly hasn’t studied his or her history…
In more recent times, the town was also a summer retreat for the Italian royal family, and their former residence has now been turned into the Hotel Miramar.
Just across the street from the Hotel Miramar is the Italian Olympic Committee’s (CONI) training center, where my son had the luck to train in track and field for two weeks, and to meet many top Italian and international track and field athletes. The Center dates back to the 1950s, and the campus is beautiful.
Can’t say I’m surprised many international athletes choose to train in this perfect spot, with its sports facilities, its beach, and its warm Mediterranean breezes.
This CONI Campus seems like heaven, and my son certainly agrees.
So don’t miss out on Formia when you’re travelling your way along the Lazio coast.
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