Capri, the centre of the Roman Empire?

romanAlthough human presence on the island can be dated back to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, Capri eventually became an obscure Greek colony, the inhabitants being predominately wild goats, Capri began its history of attracting the rich, powerful and famous at an early age.

After an exchange for the neighboring island Ischia, Caesar Augustus visited the island in 29BC but the island became truly famous when his successor, Tiberius fell in love with the island’s beauty a few years later and ruled the Roman Empire (at that time most of the known world) from his villa there for the last ten years of his reign.

Although only three of the twelve villas built by Tiberius can be  accurately identified and visited nowadays, it is almost certainly”Villa Jovis” (Jupiter’s Villa) which, commanding a spectacular view of the entire Gulf of Naples from its location atop the Capo, that was his main residence. The island however is rich in Roman remains, most 

interesting of which are the Bagni di Tiberio, the Emperor’s Baths.

After Tiberius’s death the island fell into steep decline. Centuries of attack by barbarians and pirates, and 


repeated earthquakes wiped our most traces of the island’s famous and ancient heritage.

Lombards and Normans occupied and left followed in succession by Aragonese and Anjous and the Ottoman occupied for some years. In the 17th century, most of the island’s inhabitants died from the plague. After Napoleonic French occupation, Capri became a chess-piece between Britain (a “Second Gibraltar”), and France because of its strategic location.
The renaissance of Capri, coming from the tourist trade, developed on an almost industrial scale, from the late 19th century with the 

arrival of the ‘gliterrati’ (mostly writers, artists and philosophers, not Manchester United football players or rock stars) of their day who discovered its charm, climate and natural beauty.

If you plan to visit Capri with its intoxicating mix of flowers, na
rrow lanes and alleyways, this year, do try and travel with a specialist tour company such as Don’t miss the Caesar August Gardens with views over the 


Faraglioni rocks and Gracie Fields’s villa. In Anacapri, stroll through the beautiful gardens of Dr Munthe’s villa. It hardly needs to be said that the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) is a ‘must-see’ but sadly you will not be able to bathe in the azure waters favored by Augustus and Tiberius