- See also Capri (disambiguation)
Capri is an island off the coast of Italy, in the Gulf of Naples that has been a celebrated "beauty spot' and resort since the time of the Roman Republic. Its features are a litany of postcard views: the Marina Piccola (Small Harbor), the Belvedere of Tragara, which is a high panoramic promenade lined with villas, the limestone masses that stand out of the sea (the 'Faraglioni'), Anacapri, the Blue Grotto ('Grotta Azzurra'). Above all are the ruins of the Imperial Roman villas.
The City of Capri is the main centre of population on Capri. It has two adjoining harbours, Marina Piccola and Marina Grande, which is the main port of the island. The town of Anacapri is located high on the hills north from the City of Capri.
Tacitus records that there were twelve Imperial villas in Capri (or 'Capreae', as it was spelled in Latin). Ruins of one at Tragara could still be seen in the 19th Century. Suetonius reports that when the foundations for the villa were being excavated, giant bones and 'weapons of stone' were discovered, which Octavian Augustus ordered to be displayed in the garden of his main residence, the Sea Palace, one of the first displays of fossils.
Augustus's successor Tiberius also built a series of villas at Capri, the most famous of which is the Villa Jovis one of the best preserved Roman villas in Italy. In 27, Tiberius permanently moved to Capri, running the Empire from there until his death in 37. According to Seutonius, while staying on the island, Tiberius (accompanied by his nephew and heir, Caligula) enjoyed performing numerous cruelties and sexual perversions upon their slaves.
In 182, Emperor Commodus banished his sister Lucilla to Capri. She was executed shortly afterwards.
These days the busier parts of the island are over-run with tourists during the summer and especially during the middle of the day. To savour the wonderful light and atmosphere of the island it is best to be out and about early in the morning and late in the day and out of the high summer tourist season.
Capri in Literature
Capri is the setting for The Lotus Eater, a short-story by Somerset Maugham. In the story, the protagonist from Boston comes to Capri on a holiday and is so enchanted by the place he gives up his job and decides to spend the rest of his life in leisure at Capri.
Writer and Swedish royal physician Axel Munthe (1857-1949) built the Villa San Michele near Anacapri. His memoirs, The Story of San Michele were published in 1929.
Shirley Hazzard, winner of the 2003 National Book Award (for the novel The Great Fire), wrote the memoir Green on Capri (2000) about her reminiscences of Graham Greene and Capri.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 04:41:46
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04