Gaeta (gäĕˈtä) [key], town (1991 pop. 22,334), in Latium, central Italy, a seaport on a high promontory in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was a favorite resort of the ancient Romans and was a prosperous duchy from the 9th to the 12th cent. Gaeta lost its independence to the Normans (mid-12th cent.) and thereafter shared the fortunes of the kingdom of Naples. The citadel (8th cent.) and the port were strongly fortified (15th–16th cent.). Pope Pius IX took refuge in Gaeta in 1848–49. The fall of the town to Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia after a siege (1860–61) marked the end of the rule of Francis II of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Gaeta has a cathedral (12th cent.) with a fine campanile (13th cent.)
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