THE HISTORY OF CAPRI
The history of Capri can’t really be narrowed down to a particular time or era. While Roman emperor Augustus Caesar is said to be the first to discover the island, discovered artefacts have revealed that Capri was previously populated by the Greek people of Teleboi. The fortified walls of an ancient Greek acropolis remain to this day as a testimony to their presence.
During an excavation, while expanding the Quisisana hotel in 1906, a local doctor, Ignazio Cerio, uncovered the remains of a number of prehistoric animals and stone weapons, proving further, that the city had actually been inhabited far before the Greeks or the Romans.
After Caesar Augustus visited the island in 29 BC, he was so taken by Capri’s beauty that he traded the nearby fertile Ischia and the city of Naples for it. Caesar Augustus developed Capri to suit his taste, building temples, villas, aqueducts, and planted gardens according to his pleasure.
During the 10th century, the islanders of Capri had to endure the threat of pirate attacks and slave traders. With all kinds of attacks coming through the harbor, the islanders decided that it was best to flee their homes around the marina and take refuge in the uplands, which could only be reached by a flight of 800 steps, called the Scala Fenicia (Phoenician Stairs).
During the middle Ages, Capri went through a long line of different rulers. It first belonged to the Abbey of Montecassino, and then to the republic of Amalfi before moving on to the Kingdom of Naples. During the Napoleonic wars, the French and English both had their turns ruling over the island. The French completed the island’s fortifications after the last heroic disembarkation on the island and remained there until the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815. It was only then that Capri finally emerged from its long hibernation.
Towards the end of the 19th century, with the opening of the Quisisana, Capri became a popular tourist destination, visited by people from all over the world, including prominent guests like members of the various royal families, aristocrats, politicians, industrialists, artist, writers, and poets. Capri’s hospitality industry and its ability to welcome guests from every social sphere with discretion has been its biggest fortune.