Riviera di Ulisse Regional Park
The Park has been named after the Homeric hero who moored his ships in the current Gulf of Gaeta and supplied with water at Artakie springs, to fight then against the terrible Lestrigons in what is now Sperlonga and fall in love with the famous sorceress in Circeo. The Park covers ha 434 of land and ha 80 of marine area for a total of ha 514, characterized by important environmental features and an extraordinary combination of nature, history, and archaeology.
The geological environments of Riviera di Ulisse Regional Park are extremely varied and interesting, its trails offer the opportunity to observe cliffs, bays, beaches, caves, fossils, tectonic structures, ancient shorelines, soils, and forms of erosion. The cliffs of Mt. Orlando and Sperlonga are a natural cross section of Aurunci mountains, the mountains of the Park belong to.
The Park vegetation is formed by the characteristic formations of the Mediterranean maquis: the garigue, the low maquis, the mixed woodlands dominated by Holm Oaks and Cork Oak and the extreme posting on the cliffs overhanging the sea.
Riviera di Ulisse Regional Park, includes the protected areas of Monte Orlando, Gianola and Monte di Scauri, and the Natural Monument Villa di Tiberio and Costa Torre Capovento - Punta Cetarola.
Gianola and Monte di Scauri Protected Area. Situated at the southernmost corner of Lazio, in Formia and Minturno, the area covers 309 hectares (292 of land and 17 of marine area). At the foot of the southern spurs of Monti Aurunci, it enjoys a particularly Mediterranean-like mild climate giving the opportunity to visit the area in any season.
The stretch of coast in front of the protected area is characterized by both a rocky and sandy seabed. This environmental heterogeneity allows the development of a very diversified vegetal and animal population of great naturalistic interest.
Villa di Tiberio and Costa Torre Capovento - Punta Cetarola Protected Area. The protected area entirely lies in the Municipality of Sperlonga, which was already known at Roman times for its fascinating natural heritage. The whole area between the promontory of Villa di Tiberio and Punta Cetarola has been declared "protected area". At the moment, the latter covers 115 hectares (82 of land and 33 of marine area). The name "Sperlonga" refers to the presence of several caves and cavities situated along the coast and whose ancient name was "speluncae". These caves, also mentioned by Strabone and Pliny, are the demonstration of how the territory of Sperlonga was already known and appreciated in ancient times.
The Circeo National Park extends for about 8500 hectares through the province of Latina, Ponza, Sabaudia and San Felice Circeo. It was found in 1934 in order to safeguard what was left of the Pontine marsh. Archaeological finds are evidence that many Roman Emperors also enjoyed vacationing in the area today known as the Circeo National Park (must-sees, amongst others, are Lucullus’ spring, Domitian’s villa, the ruins of the Roman Villa Casarina, the Torre Paola and the Temple of Jupiter Anxur). The Circeo National Park has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1977; it has also been a candidate for “World Heritage Site”.
Given the geographical positioning coinciding with the main migratory routes, Circeo National Park, with 25 different species of birds, has in the avifauna its main faunistic aspect. In particular, there are several Coots and Cormorants and rare species like the Peregrine, the Osprey, the White-tailed Eagle, the Crane, the Greater Flamingo, the Spoonbill, etc..
Of particular interest is the presence of many Insects, Reptiles (the four-lined snake, the European grass snake, the western whip snake, the slow worm, the asp viper, the European pond turtle, the spur-thighed tortoise), Amphibians (the common toad, the common frog, the newt), and Fishes (in the lakes, the grey mullet, the eel, the bass, the gilthead, the white bream, the sole - in the canals, the carp, the tench, the perch).
In the Park, the fauna is divided according to different habitats:
Island of Zannone
The wonderful natural mosaic of the Park is enriched by important prehistorical and archeological finds witnessing man's presence in the Circeo since remote times.
As a matter of fact, the several caves and natural shelters of the promontory are very important archaeological sites in which, in addition to the recovery of a skull of the Neanderthal Man (prof. Blanc, Guattari's Cave, 1939), many other finds are an evidence of the presence of man and of his activities during the prehistoric periods.
The archaeological finds mainly date back to the Roman period, when the great technical ability allowed the realization of works of residential and hydraulic engineering like the Torre Paula's channel port, or the spa and residential complex of Domitian's Villa, which have been preserved till today. The Domitian's Villa offers us many artistic finds that have been displayed in several museum, like the Apollo by Kessel and the Fauno with the transverse flute, which decorated the residential and spa rooms of the imperial settlement.
Visits to the Park are free.