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Overlooking Capri harbor from
Villa San Michele.

Capri is an island off the coast of Italy, in the Bay of Naples that has been a celebrated "beauty spot' and resort since Roman times. Its features are a litany of postcard views: the Marina Piccola (Small Harbor), the Belvedere of Tragara, which is a high panoramic promenade lined with villas, the limestone masses that stand out of the sea (the 'Faraglioni'), Anacapri, the Blue Grotto ('Grotta Azzurra'). Above all are the ruins of the Imperial Roman villas.

Tacitus records that there were twelve Imperial villas in Capri. Ruins of one at Tragara could still be seen in the 19th Century. Suetonius reports that when the foundations for the villa were being excavated, giant bones and 'weapons of stone' were discovered, which Octavian Augustus ordered to be displayed in the garden of his main residence, the Sea Palace, one of the first displays of fossils.

Augustus' successor Tiberius also built a series of villas at Capri, the most famous of which is the 'Villa Jovis' one of the best preserved Roman villas in Italy.

These days the busier parts of the island are over-run with tourists during the summer and especially during the middle of the day. To savour the wonderful light and atmosphere of the island it is best to be out and about early in the morning and late in the day and out of the high summer tourist season.

Capri in Literature

Capri is the setting for The Lotus Eater, a short-story by Somerset Maugham. In the story, the protagonist from London comes to Capri on a holiday and is so enchanted by the place he gives up his job and decides to spent the rest of his life in leisure at Capri.

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