Capri Island

The history of Capri – During the Pleistocene, Capri Continental housed the same forms of life found along the Sorrento Peninsula which was the extreme edge. In 1906 during the extension work of the Hotel Quisisana, were found by the physician and naturalist Ignazio Cerio Capri remains of animals belonging to the Lower Paleolithic, such as Rhino Merck, the Elephas primigenius (mammoth), along with the weapons of Ursus spelaeus offense and defense as cusps of chipped flint and quartzite type chella sunk in clay and mixed in the red mud of the ancient lake basin that was the valley of the Chartreuse. The Emperor Augustus, who “delighted in the things unique to particular age and rarity,” as Suetonius tells us, had adorned his mansion in Capri with “remains of huge monsters and beasts that are called giants’ bones and weapons of heroes. ” The presence of primitive man since the Bronze Age, is demonstrated by the material collected, in Capri, in the town parades, Petrara, Tiberius, Tragara, Augustus Park, Golf and Pisco, on the side of Anacapri, Campitello, combined with that recovered by Ignazio Cerio Rellini and Buchner in the Cave of Ferns, which can be considered one of the most important prehistoric Italian.

Piazzetta (Piazza Umberto I°) – Little Square of Capri

Closed this cycle, Capri became the big event of the Greek colonization. The Teleboi, Akarnania first inhabitants of the coasts and islands of the Ionian Greek, settled in Capri around the eighth century BC As the legend goes. Virgil in the Aeneid, which tells reigning in Capri Toulon, was born to him and the nymph Sebetide, the hero Oebalus who extended his rule over many cities and towns in Campania. Are still two strokes of the ancient acropolis of the fortification wall of limestone blocks in the square and polygonal part in that, starting from the village The Peak, at the foot of the hill Cesina, extending to the slope of Castiglione, and formed the perimeter of the medieval Capri closed. Colonization of the seventh and sixth centuries. B.C. There is not much left after the profound changes that the Romans made on the land during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. Apart from a few inscriptions are funerary artefacts found in excavations in 1990 at St. Costanzo, Marina Grande and dating to the late second century. BC. Among them of particular importance are abundant fragments of pottery known as “black paint” A Bell-type including a two-handled cup was originally bearing the graffiti in the greek “health”, a typical Hellenistic custom greeting. This confirms that the greek village had moved from the closed enclosure of the Acropolis to the sea runs along the airy terraces range of Pisco, Truglio and Torra later arise where the villas of materials com Truglio and Palazzo a Mare, where begins the staircase that connected the settlement with Anacapri. It was the Greeks of the island, as well as natural beauty, to bring in 29 BC Octavian Augustus, not yet, to remove dependencies from Capri to Ischia and Naples mistaking it encouraged a private domain, as Suetonius tells us, even by the sudden flowering of a long-standing and dry elce that greeted his arrival and that he considered as a good omen . The Emperor attended the Island for short stays during the summer. To him we owe the first factories of Palazzo a Mare, an area better suited to the constitution, as he was intolerant of excessive heat. The documented stay of 14 AD, shortly before he died at his home in Nola, we are told by Suetonius that Augustus liked to call that tells how the Greeks and Romans who lived on the Island to share their clothes and talk to each other in the language of; as of the youths attending the games and the banquet of the young islanders who abandoned the race to launch fruit as he had imagined a city of “Apragopoli” that of doing nothing and had made according to “use friendly greek” two greek verses in honor of Masgaba first builder and administrator of the estate of the Island Empire. At the feast of Augustus and Tiberius were Thrasyllus, the astrologer who was devoted to greek advisor and partner in the decade and voluntary “exile” of the future Emperor of Capri. Tiberius at the age of 67 years, corresponding to the last period of his empire, between 27 and 37 AD, tired and embittered by the intrigues Romans, took refuge in Capri in search of peace and solitude that only the inaccessibility of ‘ Island by high cliffs and the deep sea could offer him. Exile and loneliness that have helped create the myth of Tiberius, the legend of his secret debauchery and cruelty that would have consumed in the recesses of caves Matermania, Arsenal and transformed into sumptuous Riviera nymphs or in the woods he made the 12 villas built and each dedicated to a deity. The larger the sum, as they call it, was Villa Jovis, his habitual residence, built on a cliff about 300 meters from the sea where he would plunge his victims. The adjacent lighthouse was organized to transmit and receive signals from the nearby coast to the port of Miseno where he anchored the fleet, so in order to exercise the functions of the supreme head of the Empire. Within the walls of this house, frequented by the young Caligula, he was segregated for nine consecutive months after the foiled conspiracy of Sejanus, but bloody, and here he saw the helpless and suicidal folly of the wise old Coccee Nerva, the only senator who had led with him, here he heard of the crucifixion of Jesus before he reached the villa of Lucullus’s death at the age of 78 Miseno. No other emperors have visited Capri.

Faraglioni – The Rocks of Capri

In 188 A. D. died there in exile Lucilla and Crispina, wife and sister of Commodus, respectively. The advent of Christianity on the island is dated to the mid-fifth century. A.D. coinciding with the construction of a building on the remains of the late-republican, the early Christian basilica dedicated to St. then Costanzo, by the Basilian and Benedictine, the latter arrived on the island in 580 AD following the donation of Capri that made them the patrician Tertullus. Losing its unique character of the imperial residence, the island remained abandoned to itself. Around 680 A. D. there is the coming of the East Constantius sanctified by the Bishop of Capri for protecting the island from the incursions of the Saracens, who at that time roamed between Agropoli and the Garigliano River. The impoverished and decimated the population was forced to take refuge on the heights of the citadel of the castle and walled giving, so that now is the origin of the town center. In 866 Emperor Louis II, who rewarded the people of Amalfi with their armed intervention had freed from captivity Athanasius the bishop who had been relegated by his nephew, Sergio, took off from the awe of Naples and Capri assigned to the Marine Republic of Amalfi who held possession until the advent of the Normans. When Roger II in 1137, put the block to the Duchy of Naples, Capri also had its episode of war with the siege and the storming of the little castle, then called “Barbarossa”, perched on the slopes of Monte Solaro. Under Frederick II of Swabia, the island became a fief of Arcucci Eliseo, and Grand Admiral of the United ancestor of Count Giacomo Arcucci, secretary of Queen Giovanna I of Anjou in 1371 and founder of the Carthusian Monastery, the most notable monument of the Middle Ages Capri . In 1442 the Aragonese succeeded to Anjou. Alfonso of Aragon after conquering Capri with a little trickery, granted to the inhabitants, by decree of 1448, the privilege of exemption from taxes, while Frederick of Aragon, solving the long-standing dispute between the two communities, granted in Anacapri, in 1494, the full autonomy amminitiva prohibiting fishing for garfish islanders in the waters belonging to the territory. In 1519, intensified the raids of the Turkish pirates in 1535 and Khayr-el-Din, known as “Barbarossa” began to fire and sword, followed by Dragut the Island in 1539. For this reason, the inhabitants were allowed to carry weapons and the disposal of the Viceroy de Ribera Parafan towers were built reporting on all the coasts of the kingdom and strengthened existing ones on the island. After the plague of 1656 that decimated the population, began a revival that saw the construction of the Cathedral of St. Stephen, the Bishop’s Palace (now Town Hall) and Teresa Convent and the adjoining church of SS. By Salvatore, both of which he also built Madre Serafina Anacapri another convent and church of St. Michael, enriched in 1761 by a tiled floor that mimics scenes from the Garden of Eden. With the advent of the Bourbons, in the reign of Ferdinand IV, King of Capri became a favorite destination for the annual hunting of quails. Began the first excavations of the Villa Jovis, Palazzo a Mare, Castiglione and Damecuta by Index of Bourbon king, Norberto Hadrawa who took them for purposes not entirely disinterested, and humanities. The repression of 1799 that followed the brief season of the Neapolitan Republic, led to the gallows and the doctor Capri Gennaro Arcucci exile the last bishop of Capri Gamboni Francis Xavier. In the bitter struggle between Napoleon and England for domination in Europe, Capri became the center of military events that took shape in 1806 with its occupation by a French garrison. But in the same year an English team succeeded in taking the island, through the action of the governor Sir Hudson Lowe, was fortified by the French as to be called the “Little Gibraltar”. Joachim Murat took office on the throne of Naples, the island was retaken by the French until the fall of Napoleon and the Bourbon restoration in 1815. During the nineteenth century came in the flow of Capri romantic life that pervaded Europe and became a destination for travelers in search of peace and simplicity, place of residence and permanent residence for artists, writers and poets. In 1826 the first hotel, the Pagan (now La Palma), which together hosted the German Kopisch to Capri fisherman Angelo Ferraro, said the “Hedgehog”, he discovered the Blue Grotto which has since become the main attraction for all visitors.

Grotta Azzurra – The Blue Grotto of Capri

In the second half of the nineteenth century were built several hotels including the Grand Hotel Quisisana. With the opening of the road in 1877 to Anacapri, Marina Grande and Marina Piccola in 1878 at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the construction of the funicular railway that started operation in 1907, began a rapid urban development that saw the construction of some residences of the international bourgeoisie as Villa Lysis of Earl J. Fersen, Villa Torricella of American young ladies Wolcott-Perry, S. Villa Swedish physician Michele A. Munthe, Villa Behring eponymous German doctor who discovered the vaccine against diphtheria, Coleman Villa Narcissus of the painter, the painter Vedder Quattroventi Villa, Villa D’Aras Discopoli the painter, etc.. In the last decades of the nineteenth century the population doubled due to the strong immigration of labor from the mainland and Capri saw its assets grow hotel and tourist facilities so as to establish, between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as one of the first places international tourist. The German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp, the beginning of the twentieth century, he built and donated to the town of Capri, one of the most picturesque streets that still bears his name and what has been called, not unreasonably, by Roberto Bread “an authentic work of ‘art’. In the first decades of the century the island became a place of convergence of cultural and political trends. The writer Maxim Gorky arrived in Capri in 1906. In the same period, hundreds of refugees settled there, artists and Russian revolutionaries and the founding of the so-called “School of Capri” education for revolutionary technique. At the same time to the large Russian community stayed there great writers and poets such as Conrad (1906), Rilke (1907), Bunin and then DH Lawrence and C. Mackenzie. More prolonged and stable was the presence of the poet and dandy Jacques Fersen, the Scottish writer Norman Douglas and Axel Munthe. Twenty Years on the Island were characterized by artistic events of the Futurists, led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and the work of protection and enhancement of local environmental and cultural heritage held by the writer Edwin Cerio. In the Thirties, and the construction of public works such as the commercial port (1932), there is the permanence of Curzio Malaparte, who built the famous “house like me,” the writer Alberto Moravia and his wife, the novelist Elsa Morante, by Marguerite Yourcenar and later the poet Pablo Neruda. In the fifties the Island accentuates her features and it becomes mundane and frivolous, from the Sixties onwards, known as a destination for mass tourism. Since the seventies the name of Capri is linked more to the great fashion that open luxury stores. Despite everything succeeds, however, to retain its character as a cultural center and place of the soul.

Source: Text taken from “Historical and monumental itineraries of Capri” by Salvatore Borà