Eat local: Gaeta, Italy

The Medieval Quarter of Gaeta, Italy, with Castello Angevin-Aragonese on top of the hill – once one of southern Italy’s strongest fortresses

The Medieval Quarter of Gaeta, Italy, with Castello Angevin-Aragonese on top of the hill – once one of southern Italy’s strongest fortresses

 

Located an hour or so from both Rome and Naples, Italy, Gaeta somehow manages to retain much of its “Old World” ambiance, especially outside the summer season when its beaches fill with Italians, particularly Romans, seeking sun and water.  The town, with a population of 20,800, is divided into two parts on either side of the giant hill, Monte Orlando, that separates the two – the Medieval Quarter and New Gaeta.  On our first day in town, we explored New Gaeta and did a lot of food shopping along Via Indipendenzia which is home to numerous small food shops, each specializing in one type of food – bakeries, cheese stores, butchers. salumeria, fresh produce, fish, etc.

 

 

Chiesa St. Francesco – dating back to a monastery built in 1222 that was founded by Francis of Assisi and then converted to a church in the 14th century, Gaeta, Italy dominates the hillside of Monte Orlando, overlooking Gaeta Harbor_

Chiesa St. Francesco – dating back to a monastery built in 1222 that was founded by Francis of Assisi and then converted to a church in the 14th century, Gaeta, Italy dominates the hillside of Monte Orlando, overlooking Gaeta Harbor

 

The façade of the Sanctuary of SS Ammunziata, Gaeta, Italy

The façade of the Sanctuary of SS Ammunziata, Gaeta, Italy

 

Pizza is served in wedges that are then hand cut into bite size “slices” at Pizzeria Rustica and piled onto a tray for eating al fresco under the trees at Plazza Liberta, Gaeta, Italy; our favorite was the white (no tomato sauce) prosciutto and cheese

Pizza is served in wedges that are then hand cut into bite size “slices” at Pizzeria Rustica and piled onto a tray for eating al fresco under the trees at Plazza Liberta, Gaeta, Italy; our favorite was the white (no tomato sauce) prosciutto and cheese

 

Afterwards, we enjoyed excellent local pizza from what is reputedly the best pizza stand – Pizzeria Rustica — in the town that is credited with inventing pizza.  The first recorded use of the word pizza was around the year 1,000 A.D. in Gaeta, before Naples began making the famous “pies”.  On board the ship that evening we cooked some of our local purchases for a tasty dinner in our apartment that was a toast to the summer season.

 

The tower of city hall, Gaeta, Italy

The tower of city hall, Gaeta, Italy

 

The first course of our home cooked dinner was salad Caprese (fresh tomatoes with a creamy, local mozzarella that was similar to burrata in its creaminess, Gaeta, Italy

The first course of our home cooked dinner was salad Caprese (fresh tomatoes with a creamy, local mozzarella that was similar to burrata in its creaminess, Gaeta, Italy

 

Franco selecting the freshest clams for us at his fish market in Gaeta, Italy; while he spoke only Italian, we were fortunate that a younger patron at the store spoke English & could translate for us – all the locals we met were cheerful and helpful

Franco selecting the freshest clams for us at his fish market in Gaeta, Italy; while he spoke only Italian, we were fortunate that a younger patron at the store spoke English & could translate for us – all the locals we met were cheerful and helpful

 

The main course of our home cooked dinner was linguine with Franco’s fresh clams in wine and garlic sauce, Gaeta, Italy

The main course of our home cooked dinner was linguine with Franco’s fresh clams in wine and garlic sauce, Gaeta, Italy

 

Accompanying our pasta was a “salad” of fresh roasted, sliced vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and fennel) drizzled with a little local EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), Gaeta, Italy

Accompanying our pasta was a “salad” of fresh roasted, sliced vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and fennel) drizzled with a little local EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), Gaeta, Italy

 

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