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By Gabriella Sannino

Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, the island of Capri has been a resort area since the Roman Empire occupied the isle. Interestingly, the Greek geographer, Strabo, maintained that Capri was actually connected to the mainland at one time. Strabo also asserted that in these early times, there were actually two cities on the island. The island civilization evolved into one town prior to the arrival of the Greeks.

It is believed that the city has been inhabited before the Middle Ages, well ahead of Greek or Roman occupations. When the foundation for the villas of the Roman Emperor Augustus were being excavated, large bones and “weapons of stone” were found. The Emperor insisted these artifacts be on display in the magnificent gardens of his Sea Palace. More modern excavations prove that Capri was inhabited as early as the Neolithic Age.

The first colonization of the island is attributed to the Telebol, an Acarnanian civilization, led by Teleno. These colonizers are responsible for constructing the megalithic wall that is visible from the Funicular Terrace.

The Greeks of Cumae, who presided over many of the sites in Campania, arrived in Capri in the fifth century B.C. Twelve imperial villas were constructed during the Greek occupation. The ruins of the villas of Tragara were still visible in the mid 19th century.

The Roman Empire presided over Capri beginning in 328 B.C. The Emperor Augustus acquired Capri in 9 B.C. Tiberius, the successor to Augustus, built several villas overlooking the Bay of Naples. The most famous of these villas is Villa Jovis. Tiberius established a permanent residence on the island in 27 A.D. and presided over his Empire from the island until his death in 37 A.D. Upon the death of Tiberius, the Roman Empire withdrew from the island.

In 523, Capri was donated to the Benedictines by Patrizio. The Benedictines preserved the Monastery of St. Stefano.

In 750, the patrimony of St. Peter, Capri, was leased to Theor, the Duke of Naples by Gregory. In 866, the Emperor Ludovick II donated Capri to the Republic of Amalfi, who was flexing its maritime muscle throughout Campania.

For much of the 9th century the reconstruction of the Basilica of St. Costanzo and the construction of the famed Anacapri Castle, which would later be known as the Barbarosa Castle, dominated island life.

In 1367, long after occupation by the Normans and the Angevins, the expansion of the Convent and Church of St. Francesco at Marina Grande was undertaken by Count Arcucci. Unlike many of the communities of Campania, Capri still has many visible testimonies to its long and proud heritage.

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About the Author: Gabriella Sannino has held positions as a marketing consultant, web designer and copywriter throughout her career before opening Level 343, a SEO copywriting company. She lives in the US with her family but still holds an Italian citizenship. Her passions in brand building through social media, marketing techniques and writing strong copy that converts are all part of the strategy. She fancies herself as an Italian rocker, rebel and SEO geek. Her passions include everything Italian, especially Naples. The fact she loves singing old Neapolitan songs in the shower or while cooking are what keep her grounded. See all of Gabriella Sannino’s Articles on Napoli Unplugged.