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This stretch of the coast of Lazio with San Magno hill overlooking the sea is rich in natural hollows (from the Latin speluncae). In one of these the Emperor Tiberius built his house which then became a haven of local communities from the sixth century and before they began to retreat up the hill to avoid the continuous attacks of pirates.

The small centre was destroyed in 1534 by the pirate Khair ad-Din, called Barbarossa (hence the name of the Valley of the Corsairs, at the Grotto). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Sperlonga became enriched with churches and palaces.