The island of Capri reminded me of a cloud. It was a silver stain above the expanse of limitless blue sea and sky. A south wind blew over the waters of the Mediterranean, drawing the moisture that gathered in thick fog on its flanks and on its heights … An air of unreality hung over the place. – Norman Douglas, South Wind.
Capri well deserves quotes like these. The ravishing beauty and majesty of its scenery have attracted visitors for thousands of years.
The island’s first tourists were the Romans. Aristocrats, including the emperor Augustus himself, would travel to Sorrento, then sail off to the island to escape the summer heat and practice their otium - what today could be called leisure time - working out, swimming, dining and discussing philosophy.
The emperor Tiberius lived here for the last decade of his life. He governed from this tiny island and never returned to Rome. To the eyes of his subjects, Capri gained a divine aura as their God resided on its soil.
Over the years, the allure of this island has remained unaltered. As its inhabitants like to boast, Capri is “un mondo a parte”, a world on its own, welcoming whoever arrives on its shores, a safe haven for intellectuals, artists and freethinkers from all over the world. For Pablo Neruda it was the queen of rock, in your dress colored lily and amaranth. For Dickens nowhere in the world there are so many opportunities for delicious peace as in this small island.
Capri today is divided into four main locations: the city of Capri, Anacapri, Marina Grande and Marina Piccola, each one unique in its own right. If you plan a visit here, you can’t miss a trip to some of the most magical villas, Villa Jovis, Damecuta, Palazzo a Mare and the Gardens of Augustus, now the Capri city park, all built under the two emperors.
Worth to be seen are also the Churches of San Costanzo and San Michele, both of medieval architecture, the magnificent baroque church of San Michele Arcangelo, and the Certosa of San Giacomo, one of the oldest monasteries of the island.
Nicoletta Lucia Paganucci
Cultural Italy Staff Writer