This island in the
Gulf of Naples was an important center in the prehistoric period, of which there remain relatively abundant traces. According to Virgil (Aen
. 7.73) it was
reached by the Teleboi coming from Acarnania at the
time of the Trojan war. The colonizers, settled both at
the Marina and at Anacapri. The two centers, joined by
a path worn in the slope of Mt. Solaro, remained relatively independent until the time of Augustus. Construction during the Roman Imperial epoch destroyed nearly every trace of the preceding age.
Visited by Augustus in 29 B.C., the island became the
residence of Tiberius between A.D. 27 and 31. During the
reign of Augustus began the construction of the imperial
villas that, according to Tacitus (Ann
. 4.67), numbered
twelve under Tiberius. Excavations in the 19th c. and again
in 1935 have brought to light the remains of two large
villas, the Villa Jovis on the E promontory and the Villa
di Damecuta, as well as remnants of minor dwellings.
The Villa Jovis surrounds a four-sided court where there
are cisterns for collecting water. A ramp leading from
Viale dei Mirti to the entrance hall provided access to
the palace. A corridor paved in white mosaic led to a
second vestibule, from which one could pass to the E to
the lodgings and to the bath on the floor above. To the
W a flight of steps and a ramp led to the imperial apartments, a large semicircular hall and the private quarters
at the N, opening on the W toward the sea. On the N
flank of the mountain is the loggia of an ambulatio, interrupted at midpoint by a residential section, and ending to the E in a perpendicular drop to the sea. On the ridge of the mountain was a lighthouse.
The Villa di Damecuta, on the promontory that juts
out from the plateau of Anacapri, includes a belvedere,
a residential section and an even more scenic lodging on
the slope of the promontory. The building complex was
buried in 79 by the cinders from Mt. Vesuvius. The remains of other villas are scarce.
The grotto of the Arsenale and the grotto of Matermania were transformed into large nymphaea. After Tiberius the island continued at intervals to be an imperial residence until the Flavian age.
E. Petraccone, L'isola di C
. (19 13); P.
7 (1955) 139-63; A. Maiuri, Capri.
Storia e monumenti
(1956); id., Capri in prehistoric
limes and in classical antiquity
F. PARISE BADONI