According to Greek mythology the beautiful island of Capri was the home of the Sirens, daughters of a sea god and enchanting seductresses, whose irresistible songs lured sailors to their death. The brave Odysseus had more than one encounter with these fabulous creatures and came perilously close to succumbing to their charms. Visitors to Capri, Italy whether they believe in the ancient myths or not, soon become captivated by its beauty and quickly understand how the island became the focus for Homer's delightful stories.
Capri is a flower covered island in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the Gulf of Naples. It was thought to have once been part of the mainland but became detached in ancient times. Archeological evidence shows that it was inhabited by Neolithic and Bronze Age man. According to Virgil it was a place much favoured by the ancient Greeks who arrived from Ionia and made it their home. Whatever the truth, Capri is an island steeped in ancient history and rich in myths and legends.
The emperor Tiberius made Capri his permanent home and his Villa Jovis (or villa of Jupiter) is probably the best preserved Roman palace in Italy. Being such a desirable island meant that, sadly, it could not escape turbulent times and after the fall of the Roman Empire, Capri became the target of pirates and numerous other invaders (including French and British) for hundreds of years and it did not become a popular tourist resort until the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Capri's idyllic climate, natural beauties and rich cultural history are not the only reasons visitors flock to the island. It has become something of a shopper's paradise with its parades of designer shops and high class hotels and restaurants. Boats can be hired from its picturesque harbour to tour the island and, in particular, the Grotta Azzurra. This is a stunning natural cavern thought to have been the habitat of water nymphs, with an intensely blue interior flecked with silvery hues, which can only be entered by small rowing boats.
The highest point on Capri is the impressive Monte Solaro from whose summit can be seen magnificent views across the bay of Naples and the entire island. Cable cars carry visitors up the mountain, but on the walk down a fourteenth century hermitage, nestling in the mountainside, offers a worthwhile detour. The historical and natural wonders of Capri are evident at every turn on this island filled with wonders and one visit is likely to be the start of a lifelong romance.