Nettuno is a town and comune of the province of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy, 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of Rome. A resort city and agricultural center on the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the Mediterranean Sea it has a population of approximately 46,000.
The town was founded by the Latins as Antium. It is a popular tourist destination today, where there are a well-preserved old quarter, the Borgo Medievale, with mediaeval streets and small squares, and the Forte Sangallo, a castle built in 1503 by renaissance architect Antonio Da Sangallo Il Vecchio (Antonio da Sangallo the Elder).
It is an important center of pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Maria Goretti. In the shrine there is a crypt where lie the mortal remains of the saint. The church keeps also a priceless polychromed wooden statue of Our Lady of Grace, which is honoured by the town with a procession every year the first Saturday of May. It was originally Our Lady of Ipswich, although it left England after the Reformation.
Nettuno Baseball Club is one of the most important Italian baseball teams, often winner of the national championship. Baseball was taught to the local people during the Second World War by American soldiers, who landed along the coasts for Operation Shingle. At the north edge of town is the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial, where over 7,800 U.S. soldiers are buried.
The privately owned Villa Costaguti-Borghese at Nettuno, built 1648, has extensive gardens in a landscape park designed about 1840, now protected as a nature reserve. The Borghese Gladiator was discovered at Nettuno.
A key feature of Nettuno is the “fort” – a medieval wall which goes around an entire neighborhood of stone-paved streets.
In the late 1980s, Nettuno figured prominently as a transit point for Jewish immigrants on their way to Israel or the United States. Since the Soviet Union and Israel did not have diplomatic relations, Italy agreed to serve as a staging ground for Jewish refugees to Israel from the Soviet Union. Upon entering Italy, refugees would file a petition with the Israeli consulate and await approval. Many Jews took advantage of this opportunity to petition the U.S. consulate for asylum to let them enter the United States on religious persecution grounds. Though the majority of Russian Jews settled in Rome and Ladispoli (a small city near Rome), a significant number of them, particularly those from the Ukrainian city of Odessa, chose Nettuno as their temporary home, perhaps due to its magnificent beaches and lively night scene. Other, much more insignificant Italian cities such as Santa Marinella also served as temporary homes, though they offered little beyond “Wheels of Immigration” – a pretzel-like snack as comfort to their visitors.