In occasion of one of my researches at the Historical Archive in Formia, I had the possibility to observe in detail all the rooms of the ground floor of the Fortalice where the same Archive is set. I’ve already known the spaces of the first floor for the copious displays and various events that had been set up there. The term “Fortalice” is not used improperly. It is certainly the word that mostly fits that defensive structure that we always called “Castello di Mola” (The Castle of Mola) or merely “Torre di Mola” (The Tower of Mola) when almost all of the structures were reduced in a state of ruin.Keeping out the outward façade which is still ruined in the cylindrical “Torrione”, the result of the refurbishing of the interiors of the structure can be considered satisfying.From my memories of how the site was damaged after the war , I would have never conceived that around the tower existed dozens of spaces on the ground floor and likewise on the first one beyond to some terraces and external spaces , some of them of outstanding dimensions. The history of the TheCastle of Molais quite complex , above all for the following of people, among Angioini, AragonesiandCaetani, but I will try to make it easier by only telling you about the most important and substantial things respecting the chronological order of the events to make the comprehension easier. It was Carlo II d’Angiò, king of Naples, in 1289 that conceived the idea and set off to build an outpost in Mola with the purpose of a better fortification of Gaeta. The cylindrical ‘Torrione’ (donjon) 27 meters high, with an external diameter of 15 meters and the entering walls 2 meters over , it was at the centre of a boundary wall 200 meters long perpendicularly at the land side and oblique like the bastions of Gaeta, to the sea one.On these hexagonal bastions not excessively high,there are two quadrangular towers with two levels , to west and south respectively that nowadays are not visible anymore.There also were aso called “Land”door and a “ Sea” door for the boarding and landing of men and goods. On the east side, the ground floor is still visible a little parade ground with clear signs of kitchens on the east wall. In a corner they found ruins of a small cemetery used by castellans . The ground floor was totally reserved to lodging for twelve soldiers, stables and offices for admistrative tasks. The tower had and still has three rooms, one above the other. The ground floor was designated as a temporary prison for guiltly people, who were waiting the process that was held in the upper floor connected with the underlying prison with an internal wooden staircase. Now the prison is accessible from the ground floor with an external front gate. At the top in more recent times we would have seen a waving flag, two bronze small cannons and two springals that were huge rifles set up on tripods. The entire first floor was reserved to the “Regio Castellano” (the Royal Castellan)that lived there with his family. At the entrance of the landdoor, on the left is still visible a spacious family chapel used for religious functions of the people living there and dedicated to S. Michael Archangel, guardian of the Castle.In 1460 the king Ferrante I of Aragon, (the family who succeeded the Angioini in 1435) granted the Castle of Mola’s property to Nicola Caetani, naming him as State Councillor and with the acquisition of the title “Caetani di Castelmola” including the family’s emblem (look at the picture). The assignment of the act signed on March 5th1460 mentions “Nicolai Caytano”. I’ve forgotten to say that the occupants of the Castle of Mola, compared to the surrounding territory, had the administrative autonomy as subordinated to Gaeta and alsomanaged the duties control that lasted until 1800. At the beginning of 1800 with the arrival of the French dominion and of Joseph Napoleon king of Naples (also known as Joseph Bonaparte) Caetans’ rights were dispossessed. The Castle was abandoned in 1815 untilthe last heir’s death, the Count of CastelmolaOnorato XII. In 1880 he restored it completely furnishing it with the 16th century renaissance marble portal, won in 1861 after the siege of Gaeta at an auction, deriving from the Guastaferri Palace in Horse’s square (Piazza Cavallo). Abandoned again because destroyed during the First World War, the defensive complex which was reduced to a pile of rubble, but still private, was purchased by the province that has restored, furnished and donated it to the town of Formia in 2012. The last archeological discovery stated that the castle was built above roman thermal baths, still visible from the transparent glass floor used in many spaces of the ground floor, that clearly allowsto observe some parts of the Calidarium and Frigidarium as well as the flowing canals of hot and cold water.
LA PORTA DEGLI SPAGNOLI AL CASTELLO DI MOLA – FORMIA.
It was built next to the Castle of Mola (castello di Mola), during the Aragonese period, between 1400 and 1500, as narrated by Onorato Gaetani, count of CastleMola in 1885, the 12th owner of the same fortalice complex. “…….. under the Spanish supremacy, the government ordered the construction of a huge door on a passage between the sea next to the entrance and the front building, to forbid the entrance and exit from the city at night, except for emergencies, and royal service; this door was called ‘Porta degli Spagnuoli’(Spaniards door) where a guardian was assigned. The door was abolished in 1799 by the republican French army, the arch that was underneath it was destroyed in the year 1851, and in this occasion the public administration channelled at its own expenses, underneath the road, the aqueduct that leads the water to the Castle, and that used to flow over the previous arch. It’s easy to understand that the door with the arch built by the Aragonesi, was also an elevated aqueduct linked to the outside with the roman aqueduct, whose remains we can still see nowadays. In 1799, when the French led by the general Rey conquered the Castle, two cannons and springals were thrown away from the top of the tower in the underlying parade ground, being difficult to get them down through the internal stairs. In 1860 Piedmont soldiers led by the admiral Persano bombed the Castle believing that it was a fortalice full of soldiers. This is the story of the eastern door, also known as ‘Spaniards Door’, but the ancient Mola had two other entrances. The western entrance, also known as ‘PortadeiFrancesi’(French Door) or ‘Portadell’Orologio’(The Clock Door), demolished in the period of the Podestà (chief magistrate)FeliceTonetti, and a Northern Door in Maiorino, also demolished at the beginning of the last century. This last entrance, also known as ‘Arco del Maiorino’ (Maiorino Arc)has already been the topic of one of my last articles.