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SPELUNCA (Sperlonga), a place on the coast of Latium (in the more extended sense of that name), situated between Tarracina and Caieta. The emperor Tiberius had a villa there, which derived its name from a natural cave or grotto, in which the emperor used to dine, and where he on one occasion very nearly lost his life, by the falling in of the roof of the cavern (Tac. Ann. 4.59; Suet. Tib. 39). The villa is not again mentioned, but it would appear that a village had grown up around it, as Pliny mentions it in describing the coast ( “locus, Speluncae,” Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9), and its memory is still preserved by a village named Sperlonga, on a rocky point about 8 miles W. of Gaëta. Some Roman remains are still visible there, and the cave belonging to the Imperial villa may be identified by some remains of architectural decoration still attached to it (Craven's Abruzzi, vol. i. p. 73).


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