From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Comune di Formia
Location of Formia
Formia is located in Italy
Location of Formia in Italy
Formia is located in Lazio
Formia (Lazio)
Coordinates: 41°16′N 13°37′E / 41.267°N 13.617°E / 41.267; 13.617
ProvinceLatina (LT)
 • Total73 km2 (28 sq mi)
 (31 July 2021)[2]
 • Total37,244
 • Density510/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Patron saintSt. Erasmus and St. John
Saint dayJune 2 and June 24
WebsiteOfficial website

Formia (ancient Formiae) is a city and comune in the province of Latina, on the Mediterranean coast of Lazio [it], Italy. It is located halfway between Rome and Naples, and lies on the Roman-era Appian Way. It has a population of 38,095.[3]


According to the mythology the city was founded by Lamus, son of Poseidon, who was the king of the Laestrygones.[4]


The so-called Tomb of Cicero
Cistern "Cisternone romano"
Cistern "Grotta della Janara"
Fresco from Piazza Mattei, 1st c. AD
The octagonal tower of Castellone.
The tower of Mola Castle.

The city of Formia or Formiae was founded by the Italic population of the Aurunci.[5] It appeared for the first time in history in 338 BC, when, during the Latin Wars, it received the Civitas sine suffragio, together with the city of Fondi. Throughout antiquity the city of Caieta was also part of the Formian territory.[6] In authors of the Classical period[7] it was called Formiae (derived from Hormia or Ormiai, after its excellent landing). It was a renowned resort during the imperial era and Horace calls it "the city of the Mamurrae"[8] as the rich and noble equestrian family of Mamurra had stong interests there, including the villa-estate nearby at Gianola, which can still be seen.

Cicero also had a villa there and was assassinated on the Appian Way just outside the town in 43 BC. His tomb remains a minor tourist destination. The city was also the seat of St Erasmus's martyrdom, by being disemboweled, around 303 AD, during the persecutions of Diocletian. St Erasmus later also became known as Saint Elmo, the patron saint of sailors. Paulinus of Nola and Therasia stopped at Formiae on their journey back to Nola after visiting Rome at Easter 408. There they read Augustine's letter 95 addressed to them.[9]

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire the city was sacked by barbarians and the population moved to two distinct burghs on the nearby hill, which were under the rule of Gaeta. Charles II of Anjou built a fortress in the maritime burgh, Mola di Gaeta. The other burgh was known as Castellone, from the castle erected there in the mid-14th century by Onorato I Caetani, count of Fondi.

The two villages were united again in 1863 under the name of Formia. The reunited city was badly damaged in 1943–44 in bombing operations and the Battle of Anzio.[10]


Formia lies on the Tyrrhenian Sea, in southern Lazio, close to the town of Gaeta and next to the borders of Campania region.

The municipality borders with Esperia (FR), Gaeta, Itri, Minturno and Spigno Saturnia.[11] It includes the hamlets (frazioni) of Castellonorato, Gianola-Santo Janni, Marànola, Penitro and Trivio.

Main sights[edit]

The most famous monument of Formia is the mausoleum traditionally identified with the Tomb of Cicero: it is a 24-metre-high (79 ft) tower on the old Appian Way, enclosed in a large 83-by-68-metre (272 by 223 ft) funerary precinct.

Other sights include:

  • Tower of Mola
  • Tower of Castellone
  • Roman cistern, one of the world's largest. Similar to the structures in Constantinople and in the Domitian's villa of Albano, it dates from the 1st century BC.
  • Remains of the so-called Roman Villa of Mamurra at Gianola,[12] partly destroyed in 1943, including the cisterns of ‘Maggiore’ and of ‘36 columns’, aqueducts, cryptoporticus and thermal baths. At the centre of the villa at the highest point of the promontory was a grandiose octagonal building also known as the Temple of Janus, which was flanked by two wings and two porticos sloping down towards the sea.[13] Nearby at Porticciolo Romano are the remains of its fishponds.[14] Five busts of male heads dating from the 2nd/3rd century AD have recently been excavated[15]
  • Many remains of Roman villas along the coast[16]
  • Roman buildings in the town
  • Church of San Giovanni Battista e Lorenzo, known from 841. It was almost entirely destroyed during World War II. It houses a panel by Antoniazzo Romano (c. 1490)
  • Church of San Michele
  • Church of San Luca, known from the 15th century. It has a recently discovered crypt with frescos of Episodes of the New Testament and Madonna del Latte.
  • Renaissance monastery and church of Sant'Erasmo. It was erected on the alleged site of the saint's martyrdom.
  • Archaeological Museum.
  • Regional Park of Gianola and Mount of Scauri.
  • Formia War Memorial, with the large bronze sculpture Sacraficio by Dora Ohlfsen-Bagge


Formia is the seat of the National Athletics School of the Italian National Olympic Committee, founded in 1955. Athletes such as Pietro Mennea and Giuseppe Gibilisco trained here. Formia is also a hub for cycling events of various types; road cycling and mountain biking All of which gives access to Parks in Gaeta and Formia; Parco Monte Orlando, Parco Regionale Riviera di Ulisse, Parco Naturale dei Monti Aurunci, and Tours to Rome via the Old Highway. Formia also has great water sports to enjoy; windsurfing and sailing.


Formia itself is one of the most important transport hubs of southern Lazio. The Rome–Formia–Naples railway passes through Formia-Gaeta railway station, from which visitors and residents may travel by bus to Gaeta, Minturno, Spigno and other local towns.

Ferries and hydrofoils connect Formia to Ponza, Ischia and Ventotene.

Twin towns - sister cities[edit]

Formia is twinned with:[17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ (in Italian) Istat 2017
  4. ^ Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898), Lamus
  5. ^ "Formia e la sua storia Formiae - ideato e sviluppato da WebProgens Ass. Culturale". Formiae (in Italian). Retrieved 2022-02-16.
  6. ^ "La Città di Formia – Sinus Formianus" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2022-02-16. Retrieved 2022-02-16.
  7. ^ Cicero, Horace, Martial, Florus.
  8. ^ Horace, Satires 1.5
  9. ^ "CHURCH FATHERS: Letter 95 (St. Augustine)". Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  10. ^ (in Italian) History of Formia Archived 2016-04-07 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ 41192 (x a j h) Formia on OpenStreetMap
  12. ^ Villa of Mamurra (Formia)
  13. ^ Nicoletta Cassieri, Primi interventi di scavo archeologico e di conservazione nella villa romana di Gianola, in Formianum, III 1995
  14. ^ Michele Stefanile e Fabrizio Pesando, Le ricerche dell’Università di Napoli “L’Orientale” nelle villae maritimae del Lazio meridionale: Gianola, Sperlonga, Gaeta, in Massimo Capulli (ed.) Il patrimonio culturale sommerso. Ricerche e proposte per il futuro dell’archeologia subacquea in Italia. Udine 2019, pp. 69-78
  15. ^ "Archaeological dig reveals ancient Roman home - English". 15 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Mayor launches appeal to save Cicero's villa from ruin - English". 21 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Città gemellate". (in Italian). Formia. Retrieved 2019-12-30.

External links[edit]