Sinuessa, the ancient disappeared city near Mondragone

by Federico Quagliuolo

During the holidays on the Domizio coast, most likely, we would have come across a shop, a beach or a place with the name "Sinuessa“.

It is a tribute to a city that no longer exists. An Atlantis in Mondragone format.

Sinuessa, the ancient disappeared city near Mondragone
The port of Sinuessa discovered thanks to Google Earth

Submerged by water

Not very much is known of this city, but the information we have qualifies it as one of the richer points in the north of Campania. It was almost certainly blown away by a earthquake extraordinary followed by one tsunami. It was a strategic place in the Aurunca area, this is also evidenced by the fact that, after the disappearance of the ancient city, there were no more ports between Pozzuoli and Gaeta, leaving a huge slice of the coast unattended.

It was founded by the Romans in 296 BC together with the ancient one Minturno and soon became one of the richest settlements in Campania: the young Rome, who still did not imagine his future from ruler of the world, at the time he just had defeated the Aurunci and was preparing to unify Italy ante litteram.

The populations from Campania they were many, different and very tenacious: the Samnites above all, for example, gave the Romans a hard time for another 200 years. In the case of the Aurunci, however, the war was resolved with the destruction of Vescia, and the construction of Sinuessa in its place.

Sinuous reconstruction
A reconstruction of the extension of Sinuessa

Between wine, spas and Roman idleness

The town, in the period of its maximum splendor, must have been one dream location, a vacation spot likely to upset too the building dreams of the Coppola brothers. And in fact it anticipated by 2000 years the ambition that the building owners had in wanting to create one strategic city on the coast of upper Campania.

Almost certainly the Via Appia, the legendary consular road that it connected Rome with Brindisi and that still exists today, also reached Sinuessa, guaranteeing a direct connection with Rome and, subsequently, with the nearby Suessa (Sessa Aurunca) and Volturnum (Castel Volturno).

Sinuessa, the ancient disappeared city near Mondragone
The "Venus of Sinuessa", a statue that depicts a nymph taking off her clothes before taking a bath. It seems to have belonged to Cicero, was found in 1911 in a vineyard

The city possessed a winning mix of two things the Romans loved madly: wine and spa.

The Falerno del Massico, which still today is the pride of Mondragone and its surroundings, was a wine produced in the mountains right behind the many Roman villas. He was known throughout the Empire and celebrated by many ancient authors, how Horace eg.

Also the thermal baths were particularly renowned: we often spoke of "Aquae Sinuessanae”As the non plus ultra of the wellness program. Several still pop up today fragments of the ancient thermal complex between Cellole and Mondragone.

The city was also chosen by many "vip"Of the ancient era. Above all, with a good dose of certainty, it can be said that he has also been there Marco Tullio Cicero, who had a villa in these parts.

Among the famous "Sinuessani" also appears Gaius Ofonio Tigellinus, who was the most loyal, crude and ferocious officer of the emperor Nero. It was he, after the Pison conspiracy, a to force Petronius, Lucio Anneo Seneca to commit suicide and all the characters who plotted against the emperor in 65 AD
Those who attack by suicide, however, by suicide perish.
Four years after the conspiracy, however, suicide also fell to Tigellinus: Otho he was the new emperor of Rome and, in revenge, he ordered the death.
Thus, in the courtyard of the villa of Sinuessa, the former prefect he slit his throat.

The villa of Tigellino has been identified, with a good probability, in a complex of ruins that still exist today. It was redeveloped in 2008, but soon became the subject of deeds vandalism. Today part of the archaeological area is in a very strong state of abandonment, between animal carcasses and garbage. Another part with a beautiful mosaic, on the other hand, is part of therestaurant of the same name, which is located in the municipality of Cellole, in the Baia Felice locality.

Sinuessa, the ancient disappeared city near Mondragone

Sinuessa and the mysterious disappearance

The city followed the events of the Roman Empire. After the fifth century AD, the whole of Italy divided and became land of conquest for all the monarchies of Europe. In Campania the post-Roman experience was divided between the Duchy of Naples, the Principality of Salerno and the Duchy of Benevento, which conquered a large part of Southern Italy and expanded as far as Abruzzo. The Middle Ages had just begun.

The fate of Southern Italy would then have seen the Normans, the Catalans, the French, the Spaniards, the Austrians, the Bourbons of Naples and, today, united Italy.

The last 1200 years of history, however, Sinuessa has never known them.

A cataclysm, around the 9th century, he pushed the coast back several tens of meters causing the port area to sink below sea level. The part of the city developed inland, however, has survived in various findings. The city, which was born with the ancient Romans, as if by a curse, disappeared with them.

References:
https://www.famedisud.it/sinuessa-lantica-citta-del-vino-falerno-rilevati-da-google-earth-alcuni-resti-in-mare/
http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/sinuessa_%28Enciclopedia-Italiana%29
https://books.google.it/books?id=N-NlS_8TOaYC&pg=PP123&lpg=PP123&dq=aquae+sinuessanae&source=bl&ots=5SK5m6msIQ&sig=ACfU3U2rDwnYCwrDwcR1tiF6ma9uKRTIog&hl=it&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiBp9ruv_jpAhWh2aYKHaLGC-IQ6AEwCXoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=aquae%20sinuessanae&f=false
https://www.qdnapoli.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3397:campania-segreta-sinuessa&catid=15&Itemid=108
https://www.ilmessaggero.it/italia/sinuessa_la_citta_romana_sommersa_catturata_satellite-4115480.html
https://www.researchgate.net/figure/A-The-lands-of-Minturnae-Suessa-Aurunca-and-Sinuessa-western-part-were-divided-by_fig79_334319057

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3 Comments

Nico di Ienno 20 May 2022 - 21:06

Immense pleasure… This is what you emanate from your work. Bravo and thanks.

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Federico Quagliuolo 21 May 2022 - 1:51

I'm honored!

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Nico di Ienno 20 May 2022 - 21:07

Bravo, thanks for the work you generously give us.

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