The Church of Santa Maria di Porto Salvo
The Church of Santa Maria di Porto Salvo is one of the most important churches of Gaeta. It started as a simple chapel dedicated to the Madonna that was built on the slopes of Colle Atratino. A small dwelling place was annexed to the building which accommodated the caretaker of the chapel. The chapel was incorporated into a monastery of the Fathers of the Agostiniano Scalze brotherhood in 1624. To the left of the church the monks had a pharmacy which was open to public use.
Following the invasion of Napoleon’s troops, the monastery was suppressed in 1808 and the complex was abandoned. It was sold into private hands. A section of the monastery then collapsed, while another was used as a dwelling house. The church was damaged during the Siege of Gaeta and also in 1944 during the Second World War.
It became the district’s main parish church, following the destruction of the church of Santi Cosma e San Damiano during the bombardments of Gaeta in World War II. After the war the church of Santa Maria was restored and it has undergone further reconstruction work over recent years.
In the district of Porto Salvo a steep staircase, called the Salita degli Scalzi, climbs up to the church from Via Indipendenza. The plain curved facade has a rectangular window. On the left side of the façade there is the square-shaped bell tower and a small dome. Below the bell tower there is a clock that dates from 1822, the dial is decorated in majolica. Adjoining the church is the chapel of the Congrega di Santa Maria di Porto Salvo. Inside there is a single nave with a presbytery and rectangular apse. The interior is decorated in a late Neapolitan Baroque style and the main altar is of multi-coloured inlaid marble. Behind the altar there is a marble niche which houses the statue of the Santissima Maria di Porto Salvo that dates back to the early 19th century. The Madonna is known locally as the Madonna Nostre. She is the patron and protector of fishermen, mariners and sea farers.
The feast day of the Madonna di Porto Salvo is held each year on the 2nd Sunday in August.