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In July two very good friends from Cardiff, Kay and Elsie, came to visit us. During their stay we decided to take them to the seaside town of Terracina which is 35 km from “Tre Cancelle”. As it was a Thursday we headed first to the enormous general market, on Viale Europa, which runs parallel with the seafront – there were so many stalls selling a whole array of goods, they seemed to go on forever.
Having “shopped ‘til we dropped” and having worked up a good appetite we went in search of a place to have lunch, which had been recommended to us several times by friends.
On the Terracina quayside there are a number of fishing co-operatives which sell fresh fish, straight off the boats.
Some of these establishments also have simple little eating places attached. We went to the Cooperativa La Sirena, which is a delightfully simple self-service restaurant where a wide variety of typical fish and seafood based dishes are daily loving prepared.
The cheery helpful staff instructed us to take a tray and proceeded to help guide us through the wonderful range of fishy delights on offer. Our selections included a salad of calamari, swordfish steak, fried mixed seafood, grilled squid and prawns. We found the prices to be remarkably reasonable.
We munched the tasty fare “al fresco” gazing out over the fishing boats in the harbour.
Feeling suitably replenished we next drove up to Terracina’s old historic centre which is located in the upper section of the town. Here is the ornate 11th century Cathedral of San Pietro e San Cesareo, with its elegant tall bell-tower made of intricate brickwork and decorated with brightly coloured discs of majolica.
Here, by chance, we bumped into an old friend, Luigi.
We strolled together along an original section of the ancient Roman Via Appia (the Appian Way) where there are several interesting Roman ruins including the remains of an ancient Roman Forum.
Luigi knows a great deal about the history of the city, and he explained that the Town Hall currently have something of a dilemma as archaeologists have discovered traces of yet more important Roman remains laying under certain historic medieval structures. Indeed, Terracina could be likened to an onion, where its countless layers of historical past can slowly be peeled back, piece by piece.
It was a pleasure to explore the old town on foot, browsing in the tiny shops, wandering through the narrow streets, discovering items of interest around each and every corner.
Leaving Luigi to get back to work, we then drove further uphill along the road that leads up to Monte San Angelo and the impressive remains of the Temple of Jupiter Anxur. This imposing edifice was constructed by the Romans in the year 1 BC.
It was a very hot afternoon, and in dire need of cooling refreshments we stopped at the “Piano Bar” and sat on the terrace indulging ourselves with some delicious refreshing gelati.
On a clear day, from the Temple, there are panoramic views of the Terracina: of the old town, the newer section of town with its lively fashionable shopping centre, the harbour, the long promenade and sandy beaches that stretch for miles along the Riviera di Ulisses. In the distance can be seen the mountainous headland of San Felice Circeo and out to sea – the Pontine Islands.
Terracina has so much to offer – We would highly recommend a visit.
For more information about Terracina please see our Terracina webpages:
On Paul’s birthday, we decided to have a day out. We headed towards Terracina and then on towards Priverno, where closeby is situated the fine Abbey of Fossanova . This was to be our very first visit and as we approached we caught a glimpse of the abbey, in its verdant rural setting, nestling in the valley of the River Amaseno at the foot of the Lepini Mountains.
We passed through the entrance gate, which is guarded by a large tower. A cobbled road leads to a courtyard where we were able to get our first view of abbey facade. It looked so picturesque, bathed in the mellow light of the late afternoon.
The first Benedictine monastic settlement, a small Romanesque construction, was built in 529 AD on the site of an ancient Roman temple (some Roman remains can still be seen today).
The site was taken over by Cistercian brothers in 1135 and the construction of the abbey’s church commenced in 1163. In the vicinity, the friars, who were renowned for their proficiency in engineering, also built a dyke to drain some low lying marshy land close to the river, and it is from this “fosso nuovo” (new ditch) that the name of Fossanova is derived.
The Cistercians built the beautiful abbey in a French Early Gothic style, which was revolutionary in this area of Italy, the Abbey is considered to be a magnificent example of Cistercian architecture. It is very similar in design to Saint Bernard’s Abbey at Clairvaux in Burgundy. The church was dedicated to the martyr Santo Stefano and Santa Maria and was consecrated by Pope Innocent III in 1208.
It is built of limestone and has an elegant stately facade, with a central Gothic entrance, inlaid with mosaics, and a sizeable rose window. A beautiful faceted bell tower or lantern. The interior is luminous and has elegant simple lines, consisting of a nave and two aisles, with pointed arches and a lofty vaulted ceiling. It is a timeless haven of tranquillity, a harmonious calming ambience in which to gather one’s thoughts and for spiritual reflection.
In the rectangular Cloister there are three sides which have a formal colonnade in a simple Romanesque style, whilst the fourth side is of a later date, constructed between between 1280 and 1300. The latter section is more ornately decorated, with twisted columns and stone carvings of various intricate motifs.
In the centre of the cloister there is a peaceful garden, and to one side is a quadrangular structure, with a small lantern. This was the “Lavatorium”, which originally would have contained a simple trough and fountain where the monks could wash their hands before meals.
Closeby is the Refectory, a large rectangular hall with a pulpit for the reading of the bible whilst the monks consumed their meagre meals. This has now been converted into a chapel. Other areas of interest are the Sacristry, the Chapter House, the Calefactorium, the Kitchens and the Dormitory.
There is also a Medieval Museum housed in a building which was originally a guesthouse that offered lodgings to visitors and pilgrims. It was in a small room on the second floor of this edifice, that Saint Thomas Aquinas died on the 9th March 1274. He had falling ill whilst on a voyage from Naples to attend a papal council in Lyons. This chamber was later made into a small chapel dedicated to his memory and is decorated with an 18th century relief depicting the saint’s death.
There is a Gift Shop, Cafe / Bakery, Restaurant (Il Forno del Procoio) and Accommodation in an Agriturismo within the grounds.
We would highly recommend a visit to this beautiful abbey and monastery if you ever decide to spend a holiday in this beautiful area.