From the Archives: 1960

Sperlonga, Italy

Sperlonga, Italy

Sperlonga, a village poised on the top of a rocky crest on the coast, is located half-way down the boot of Italy, near the Via Appia and the Pontine Marshes. Site of the villa of the Emperor Tiberius, it is an amazing conglomeration of jigsaw structures forming what is essentially a single building housing hundreds of intertwining individual dwellings and stepped passageways. 2000 years ago, according to Tacitus, the roof of the grotto here collapsed while Tiberius was dining. Sejanus, having rushed to save Tiberius, was promoted by Tiberius in gratitude, launching Sejanus’ rise to power. Fifty-five years ago when I took this picture, and only ten years after the end of WW II, it was pretty much the same old place it always was. Nowadays, all restored and painted spotless white, it is a major holiday destination. Those little hovels up there probably now rent for a fortune.

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