During July, while our friend Peter from the UK was staying with us Paul was surprised to find out that Itri has a beach !!!
Our Free-Climbing friend, Michael, who is also a keen naturalist and a font of local knowledge, one evening asked if we would like to go for a short gentle walk along the Antica Via Flacca.
The modern Via Flacca runs all along the coast between Terracina and Formia, the stretch between Sperlonga and Gaeta uses a series of tunnels, cut through the rocky cliffs as they fall sharply to the sea. There also existed a coast road back in Roman times, to connect the various beautiful natural secluded beaches, sections of which still exist today.
We parked the car at the end of Sant’Agostino Beach and walked alongside the current Via Flacca into the first tunnel. About 50 metres into the tunnel we passed through a small gate which lead us out onto the start of the Roman roadway. This hugs the side of the cliffs and is still supported on the sea side by sections of Roman wall.
At first the going was quite level and as we reached the open road between the first and second tunnels we could look down to the two Itri beaches which have pebbles and shingle, rather than the more common golden sand, and is where the comune of Itri stretches down to the sea.
Just as the modern roadway disappears into the second tunnel, the ancient pathway rose somewhat more steeply as it followed the contours of the hillside. It seemed that it would be soon become impossible to climb over the next cliff top without doing some rock climbing.
It was on this section of path that Michael, who was leading the way, nearly walked straight into a spider’s web that spanned the complete pathway, and must have been in excess of one metre in diameter. This “guardian of the path” was the most amazing spider we had ever seen, and if anybody can tell us what it is called we would be delighted to find out.
After carefully making our way past the web, and as we came around a bend in the path it become clear that, much to the relief of the two more senior members of the party, that there is a cave through which you can pass easily and thus no climbing would be required to continue onwards. This was indeed a big relief as the promised short walk had already turned out to be a bit of a hike and old legs were getting a tad weary.
As we walked through the cave the sun was setting providing beautiful views.
From here we had to retrace our steps as the ancient pathway had become dangerously eroded in part and although there were certain mutterings and grumblings about the distance we had come, and therefore had to return, by the time we had got back to the car the party unanimously agreed that the trek had been well worthwhile.