Distance from Pilaccio: Reachable by ferry (Metrò del mare)
Journey time: 100 minutes
Time to visit: 1 day
Once connected to the peninsula of Sorrento, the island of Capri is renowned all over the world and visited by millions of tourists throughout the year. It is characterized by a very indented coast, rich in caves and steep rocks and offers breathtaking sceneries and views, like those of the famous ‘Faraglioni’ three small rocky islands coming out of the sea at a short distance from the coast. Narrow winding streets develop between small villas made of volcanic tuff. Luxury hotels and fashionable shops and coffee bars animate the famous Piazzetta and some of the streets around it. Refinement and simplicity alternate on the island in a very picturesque contrast.
At first inhabited by a Greek population in the V and IV centuries, Capri later became one of the gems of the Roman Empire with its sumptuous villas that transformed hidden caves next to the sea into private nympheos. The ‘Grotta Azzurra’, one of the most important touristic attractions of the island, was probably the nympheon of the overhanging Villa of Damecuta, belonging to the age of Claudius; the name of Grotta Azzurra comes from the magical lighting effects of silver and blue colour that the sun produces while entering the cave.
Among the several Roman villas of the island the most imposing and better kept is Villa Jovis, the residence of the emperor Tiberius, that chose to live the last years of his life in Capri on top of its highest hill (27 – 37 A.D.). The rich decorations and the grandiosity of the remains scattered in an area of 7000 square metres give witness to the opulence of the villa, that was also a symbol of the wealth of the Roman Empire at its apex. The interest raised by the archaeologic remains is enhanced by the beauty of the place and the dazzling views you can enjoy from the numerous terraces.
By far less ancient yet of equal beauty is Villa San Michele with its Axel Munthe Museum; the villa is surrounded by a garden of rare beauty and by a park entitled to the protection of migrant birds and the Mediterranean flora. It was built by the Swedish doctor and writer Axel Munthe that fell in love with the island and decided to realize his dream in Capri, organizing a settlement near the chapel of Saint Michael to study and protect the migrant birds of Capri that risked the extinction because of indiscriminate hunting. Axel Munthe used to say that Capri was a permanent concert for lovers of birds.