Capri Island

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Capri FaraglioniOf all the islands of the Parthenopean Gulf, Capri is the only one not of volcanic origin in this almost exclusively volcanic area.
 Capri has been settled since the Late Stone Age, as archeological excavations at the beginning of this century have confirmed.
At the time the Phlegrean volcanoes were at their most active, Capri and the Sorrento Peninsula formed a solid block.


Under the pressure of the orogenic forces during the ensuing geological periods, Capri gradually broke away. Soaring up from the depths of the sea, Capri's limestone composition is revealed in the island's slopes and its steep but unusually lovely dolomite walls, not to mention its numerous natural grottoes that, together with the cliffs in the southeast, have made the Isle of Capri world famous.


Capri's elevation above sea level is very unstable, as can be seen from the slow but unrelenting fluctuation in the island's shoreline. In the course of many centuries this fluctuation caused a drop in the water level in the famous "Grotta Azzurra" (Blue Grotto) and the "Bagni di Tiberio" (Tiberian Baths). This has been proved beyond doubt by architectural finds from Roman times that were made in both this places.


The origin of the name "Capri" is a hotly disputed subject: while Strabo called the island Caprea or Island of theCapri Blue Grotto Coarse Stones, Varro named the island Capreae after its odd profile and its characteristic fauna, predominately wild goats. Other theories contend that this name is not correct and regard "Capros"  (wild boar) as the origin of the present "Capri". At any rate, it is certain that the island was a Greek colony, even though it is hard to pinpoint the exact date it was colonized.


In 29 BC Caesar Augustus visited the island, which he acquired from the Neapolitans in exchange for the neighboring Isle of Ischia.
The island attained its greatest glory under Caesar Augustus' successor, Tiberius, whom took up residence on Capri about 26 BC, from where he ruled the Roman Empire for the last ten years of his reign. His stay on the island is reflected in numerous names that still appear on today's maps. The ruins can still be seen of at least three of the 12 villas built by Tiberius, The Roman Emperor whom legend has sheathed in mystery and ruthless violence. The most famous of these villas is undoubtedly the "Villa Jovis" (Jupiter's Villa), which Capri Marina Piccolacommands a view of the entire Gulf of Naples from its location atop the Capo.

This is said to have been the residence of Emperor Tiberius. The remain of another villa can be inspected in Damecuta, while other finds dating from Imperial Rome can still be seen near Case Palazzo a Mare, the site of the Bagni di Tiberio, the Emperor's Bath. All traces have been lost of the other nine villas, said to have been erected in honor of the 12 main Roman gods, particularly since it is so difficult to recognize them in the abundance of Roman ruins that cover the island.


After the death of Tiberius the island fell into a inexorable decline, shared in the fate of Naples or the most important ruling families, was attacked by barbarians and pirates, and was repeatedly struck by earthquakes that played a major part in wiping out the traces of the island's  ancient heritage.


The Lombards and Normans alternately took possession of the island, only to be followed by a succession of Aragonese and Anjous, until it finally came under control of the Spanish, who dominated the entire Neapolitan area for a considerable period of time.
In the 17th century, the island's residents succumbed to the plague. Thereafter, the Bourbons took over the island, followed by struggles between the English and the French over Capri's strategic location.
Prior to the unification of Italy, Capri belonged to Naples. From the beginning of the previous century up until today.


Capri has been sought out by numerous writers and scholars. Of the many men of letters from various countries who came to this Tyrrhenian island in search of inspiration for their  great works of literature the Swedish physician Axel Munthe deserves special mention; needless to say, many other famous names from world literature can also be found here.

 

The Isle of Capri todayCapri Piazzetta
Only 5 Km of sea separate Capri from Punta Campanella on the tip of Sorrento Peninsula
The 11 Km.sq. island supports a population of about 12,500, distributed between the two townships of Capri and Anacapri.
The island is approx. 6 Km long and 3 Km wide and has a coastline of about 17 Km.


The simple road network runs along the main axis between Capri and Anacapri with few side roads and can only be travelled by local residents; the island has just been declared a pedestrian zone, especially as a means of protecting the countryside. On the other hand, the narrow streets that thread their way through the island's towns are hardly suitable for traffic. The automobiles of non-residents are only allowed on the island off season.


The highest point on the island is Monte Solaro (589 m.) and can be reached by chairlift or along a trail from Anacapri. The island's other important peaks are Monte Cappello (515 m.), Monte Tiberio (335 m.), Monte S. Maria (499 m.) and Monte Tuoro (262 m.). The rock mass is of a definite limestone composition (cretaceous rock), however Eocene rocks can also be observed. The volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius and in the nearby Phlegrea region left deposition of tufa and pozzolana here. 
The island's vegetation is distinctly Mediterranean with a proliferation of 850 different species and 133 varieties of plants.


The most popular form of wildlife on Capri is the seagull, however special mention  is also due the rare blue lizard and the endangered monk seal.
Capri Marina GrandeCapri earns its livehood from the tourist trade, which has developed on an almost industrial scale since the end of the 19th century.
Charming local towns, extraordinary hospitality as well as excellent, well laid-out tourist facilities open the island's beautiful to its many visitors from all over the world. Capri's popularity with international tourist is due in good part to its rediscovery by some of the world's most famous writers. In addiction to its historic, literary and scenic wonders, Capri can be boast of excellent beaches, making it one of the world's leading swimming and climatic resorts.


Capri is serviced daily from the mainland  by a large number of ferries and hydrofoils. The Isle of Capri can be reached from Naples (Molo Beverello) by ferry in approx. 1 1/2 hrs. Hydrofoils make the trip in about 1/2 hr. (from Naples Mergellina, Via Caracciolo). Capri also has ship connections to Sorrento and, in summer, to Positano, Amalfi and Ischia

 

 

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