The history of these places is immersed in myth and legend.
Legend has that after the fall of Troy, the legendary hero Aeneas landed on these shores (Virgil's Aeneid, VII, 1-4). Among his companions was his nurse, Cajeta, who died in this area, giving her name to the city. The event is confirmed by Dante Alighieri, in his Divine Comedy (Inferno, XXVI, 92). Later the name Gajeta changed to Gaeta.
During the Roman age, Gaeta became a fancied resort for Emperors, Consuls and rich Patrician families.
Starting from the last century of the Roman Republic, the rich and famous built wonderful villas all along the coast between Gaeta and Sperlonga: the astounding luxury and beauty of their gardens and swimming-pools, nymphaeums, temples and mausoleums are testified by the many impressive ruins. Today we can still admire the tomb of the Consuls Lucio Munazio Planco, on top of Monte Orlando, and Lucio Sempronio Atratino, on the northern side of Atratino hill.
During the early Middle Ages, its high and rocky peninsula, easy to defend, made Gaeta a castrum, or fortress. Around the IX Century, it turned to a wealthy Dukedom and official residence of the Bishop, and a major hub of seafaring and commerce in the Mediterranean Sea.
In the beginning of the 5th century, Gaeta became an independently ruled port town, under the indirect rule of the Byzantine Empire. During this century, as the Byzantine Empire grew and spread throughout Italy, the population of the city of Gaeta grew rapidly.
Over the next few centuries, the French, Spanish, Austrians, and others were continually trying to gain control of this important port town.
As a Republic, Gaeta minted its currency, produced written laws, and resisted to many sieges.
And it was in this area, between Gaeta and Formia, that Italy's unification really took place: between the end of 1860 and the beginning of 1861, Gaeta, the last capital city of the crumbling Kingdom of Naples, was sieged by the Sardinian army. The fall of Gaeta opened the way to the unification of the country.
Over the following century, Gaeta continued to establish itself as an important port town. This strategic importance was realized during WWII, when various powers fought for control of the port.