View of Formia © Antonio Casti

The History of Mola and Castellone

After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD, this area fell into decline. From the 6th century it was repeatedly attacked by the Goths, the Huns, the Ostrogoths and the Lombards.  Then, in 846, the Saracens invaded and completely devastated the town.  The townsfolk were forced to take refuge in the surrounding hills or fled the nearby town of Gaeta further along the coast.  The sacred relics of the holy martyr Erasmus were taken there for safe keeping, and still remain there to this day. In 916 the Saracens where finally defeated and driven out by the Christian forces during the infamous Battle of Garigliano. Gradually, over time, people began to return to the area and two settlements evolved.  One was named Castellone and was situated to the west. The other was known as Mola and was positioned to the east.  From the 10th century the area became under Norman rule. During the 13th century a fortress with a cylindrical tower, known as the Torre Mola, was built by Charles II of Anjou.

Also during the mid-thirteenth century the Formia area was affected by several disasters with catastrophic consequences.  The first was a tsunami that struck the Gulf of Gaeta in 1257. Then Formia was subjected to two strong earthquakes, one in 1258 and yet another in 1293. In the 14th century the villages of Mola and Castellone were ruled by the Caetani family of Fondi.  In 1377 Onorato Caetani built a strong fortification in the Castellone settlement which was guarded by strong walls with twelve tall towers. In the 15th century Gaeta and its surrounding territories are ruled by King Ladislao di Durazzo of Gaeta.

In 1818 the two villages were combined and became known as Mola di Gaeta.  It was situated in the most northerly territory of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. In 1860 King Francesco II of The Two Sicilies was forced to flee Naples and took refuge within the military fortress of Gaeta. He was accompanied by his wife Queen Marie Sophie of Bavaria, his family and his remaining men. Following a long siege which lasted for more than three months King Francis was forced to capitualate to forces of Garibaldi.  This was the end of the Kingdom of The Two Sicilies. The surrender was signed at the Villa Reale Borbonica (now known as Villa Rubino), near Caposele in Formia. Following the unification of Italy in 1861 the town of Mola di Gaeta took on the name of Formia.

During 1943 and 1944 Formia found itself positioned on the German Gustav line and suffered both loss of life and many hardships during this period of the Second World War.