THE HISTORY OF CAPRI
The history of Capri is a fascinating tale that spans various periods and civilizations. While the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar is often credited with the discovery of the island, archaeological findings have revealed that Capri was previously inhabited by the Greek people of Teleboi, as evidenced by the well-preserved fortified walls of an ancient Greek acropolis that still stand today.
In 1906, during an expansion project at the renowned Quisisana hotel, a local doctor named Ignazio Cerio unearthed remnants of prehistoric animals and stone weapons, providing further evidence of Capri’s ancient habitation predating the Greeks and Romans.
After visiting the island in 29 BC, Caesar Augustus was enamored by Capri’s beauty and decided to trade the nearby fertile Ischia and the city of Naples in exchange for the island. Augustus developed Capri according to his own preferences, overseeing the construction of temples, villas, aqueducts, and lavish gardens.
In the 10th century, the inhabitants of Capri faced constant threats from pirate attacks and slave traders. To protect themselves, they abandoned their homes near the marina and sought refuge in the island’s uplands, accessible only by a flight of 800 steps known as the Scala Fenicia (Phoenician Stairs).
Throughout the Middle Ages, Capri experienced a succession of rulers. It initially belonged to the Abbey of Montecassino and later came under the rule of the Republic of Amalfi before becoming part of the Kingdom of Naples. During the Napoleonic Wars, both the French and the English had their turns governing the island. The French completed Capri’s fortifications following a heroic disembarkation and remained until Napoleon’s fall and the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, signaling the end of Capri’s prolonged dormancy.
Towards the end of the 19th century, with the opening of the Quisisana, Capri emerged as a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe. Prominent guests, including members of royal families, aristocrats, politicians, industrialists, artists, writers, and poets, flocked to Capri, drawn by its exquisite charm. The island’s hospitality industry, renowned for its discretion and ability to cater to guests from diverse social backgrounds, has been instrumental in its enduring allure.