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Formia

FORMIA (anc. Formiae, called Mola di Gaeta until recent times), a town of Campania, Italy, in the province of Caserta, from which it is 48 m. W.N.W. by rail. Pop. (1901) 5514 (town); 8452 (commune). It is situated at the N.W. extremity of the Bay of Gaeta, and commands beautiful views. It lay on the ancient Via Appia, and was much frequented as a resort by wealthy Romans. There was considerable imperial property here and along the coast as far as Sperlonga, and there are numerous remains of ancient villas along the coast and on the slopes above it. The so-called villa of Cicero contains two well-preserved nymphaea with Doric architecture. Its site is now occupied by the villa Caposele, once a summer residence of the kings of Naples. There are many other modern villas, and the sheltered hillsides (for the mountains rise abruptly behind the town) are covered with lemon, orange and pomegranate gardens. The now deserted promontory of the Monte Scauri to the E. is also covered with remains of ancient villas; the hill is crowned by a large tomb, known as Torre Giano. To the E. at Scauri is a large villa with substructions in "Cyclopean" work. The ancient Formiae was, according to the legend, the home of the Laestrygones, and later a Spartan colony (Gr., Strabo v. 3. 6, p. 233). It was a Volscian town, and, like Fundi, received the civitas sine suffragio from Rome in 338 (or 332 B.C.) because the passage through its territory had always been secure. This was strategically important for the Romans, as the military road definitely constructed by Appius Claudius in 312 B.C., still easily traceable by its remains, and in part followed by the high-road, traversed a narrow pass, which could easily be blocked, between Fundi and Formiae. In 188 B.C., with Fundi, it received the full citizenship, and, like it, was to a certain extent under the control of a praefectus sent from Rome, though it retained its three aediles. Mamurra was a native of Formia. Cicero possessed a favourite villa here, and was murdered in its vicinity in 43 B.C., but neither the villa nor the tomb can be identified with any certainty. It was devastated by Sextus Pompeius, and became a colony, with duoviri as chief magistrates, under Hadrian. Portus Caietae (the modern Gaeta) was dependent upon it.

See T. Ashby, "Dessins inédits de Carlo Labruzzi," in Mélanges de l'école française de Rome (1903), 410 seq.

(T. As.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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