Gianola, 04023 Formia LT, Italia
tipologia : Resti Archeologici
accessibilità : luogo pubblico


After more than twenty centuries there are still visible traces of mosaic floors, wall decorations, type of marble used for coverings, bases of columns, walls with delicate shiny cocciopesto ( a sort of paste for terracotta)just  to look like marble.

These are just some of the  elements that we could detect in our walk in the area “Balneum” outside the building site  area  on the top of the hill of Gianola in Formia.

That’s an area of high archaeological value that must be discovered and protected   respecting  the history lived by our ancestors.
That of the “36 columns” is a Roman cistern built to supply running water to the spaces below the complex of the Nymphaeum of the magnificent Villa of Mamurra.


The “Grotta della Janara”..(The Ianara Cave) …. The structure is located on Mount Gianola, in Formia. It takes its name from the popular superstition  of the “Janare”, a term with which in central-southern Italy, in particular in the Samnite-Beneventan area, the witches are indicated. The term “cave” comes from a wrong interpretation  of the place, whose steps over time had been partly covered and hidden from the ground , reason by which  you did not have a full perception of the space, assimilated to a cavity that led down on  a cave.

Actually  it is a vaulted staircase with a rupestrian setting, a connecting element between two levels, placed at different altitudes, of the complex of the coastal villa of Roman age, precisely late Republican, attributed to Mamurra, a formian Caesar’s soldier.  The staircase allowed to pass from the central level of the villa to the lower one , close to the coast, along which were located the spaces properly inhabited. The beginning of the staircase, shown in the photo, is located near the ruins of the nymphaeum, a milestone  of the entire construction of the villa  and  next to the smaller cistern of the 36 columns.


Curiosity from Formia and its history

During the night of the26th of August 55 A.D., Mamurra couldn’t be in Formia in his Gianola’s villa.

Before this date, by Cesare’s orders, he was engaged in designing and building (with appropriate techniques for raging seas and exceptional tides) 80 ships for the transport of 10,000 legionaries and 18 cargo ships for the transport of horses and various equipment for the first expedition to Britannia.

The expedition lasted just two weeks. Caesar realized the difficulties caused by too impetuous seas and tides which damaged the ships (promptly repaired by Mamurra) as well as by the military skills of the British who had particular warfare techniques.

I would say an anecdote. Before leaving for Gaul, Cesare had his ships filled with grain cut by a legion in an entire day, protected by the men from the second legion who struggled to repeal the attacks of the locals.

For the second expedition in 54 BC, Caesar agreed with Mamurra to build 800 ships for 25,000 men and 2,000 horsemen. This expedition lasted just two months. Once again Mamurra was decisive in the prompt repair of about eighty ships that had been damaged as they landed on the British coast.

Roman historians of that time (and current ones) speak of exploratory expeditions. A total of about 40,000 men and a thousand ships were employed and Caesar wasn’t an explorer at all.

He was convinced he could invade and subdue Britain, but he failed to it, even if the Senate of Rome celebrated  the two narrated events.

The conquest and submission of Britain only took place after almost one hundred years, in 43 AD by the Emperor Claudius.


Raffaele Capolino

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