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Capri Villa Jovis

The most magnificent of all Emperior Tiberius' island residences.

Visiting Villa Jovis

  • Getting there: From the Piazzetta, walk the length of Via Longano, continuing along Via Sopramonte and finally Via Tiberio. It's an uphill walk and will take about 45 minutes.
  • Ticket price: €2; free for European Union citizens under 18 and over 65.
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.; closed Tuesday from the 1st to the 15th of each month and Sunday from the 16th to the 31st of each month.

The Roman emperor Tiberius was history's first "tourist" who fell in love with the island of Capri, fleeing the chaos of the teeming city of ancient Rome to find peace and serenity here.

During the first century A.D., he commissioned 12 villas to be built on the island, including Villa Jovis. This was his largest and most sumptuous villa, covering around 7,000 square meters and dominating the Mount Tiberius promontory and the slope descending to Cesina. The view from the north side encompasses most of the Gulf of Naples, stretching from the island of Ischia to Campanella Point, while the view from the south overlooks Capri.

The villa's architectural style combines that of Classical villas from the Roman empire with elements of a small fortress. The center of the villa housed a number of cisterns to collect rainwater, a fundamental design element on this island which has no natural springs, which was used both as drinking water and as a reservoir with which to supply the baths, which were divided into the traditional frigidarium, tepidarium and calidarium.

The servants' quarters were located on the west side of the villa, while the emperor and his most trusted counselors, including the astrologist Thrasyllus, lived and worked on the north side of the sprawling residence. The east side was reserved for the throne room.

The ancient lighthouse, used as a signal tower to communicate with the mainland and as an astrological observatory, collapsed following an earthquake just days after the death of Tiberius.

The ruins of Villa Jovis were largely uncovered during the 18th century under the reign of Charles of Bourbon, and are relatively well-conserved despite the loss of numerous artifacts. Other findings unearthed during excavations can still be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Naples and the Church of St. Stefano in Capri. Some of the red and blue vitreous paste found at the site was used to adorn the mitre and necklace of St. Costanzo, patron of Capri.

In 1932, full-scale excavations to bring to light the entirety of the ruins of Villa Jovis were finally begun, led by the archaeologist Amadeo Maiuri, the Superintendent of Antiquities for the Region of Campania and the Director of the Archaeological Museum of Naples at the time. During the restoration, the site was cleared of rubble that had accumulated over the centuries, and the beauty of the Tiberius' main residence on Capri could finally be admired. Today, the lane leading to Villa Jovis is named after this important archaeologist.

How to reach Villa Jovis

From Piazza Umberto I, take Via Le Botteghe, Via Fuorlovado, Via Croce and Via Tiberio. Otherwise, again from Piazza Umberto I, follow Via Longano, Via Sopramonte and Via Tiberio. Be forewarned: it's an uphill climb the entire way.
Time: 45 minutes.

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