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Villa Jovis Tiberius 14-37 C.E.

Click on the picture for Suetonius' description of the Villa Jovis

The island's largest imperial villa, it was built for Tiberius at the beginning of the Ist century AD and discovered in the 1700's under the Bourbon ruler Charles. The first exploration took place in 1827; the dig was expanded in 1932-35 by A. Maiuri who brought to light much of the original structure, which covers 7,000 sq. meters; the gardens of the villa must have originally covered the entire hill. The structure, built to an uncommon height, consisted of a number of different floors terraced along the natural slope of the land, with the difference from the highest to the lowest point being 40 m. The various spaces of the actual domus were laid out around a central area that held the large cisterns for gathering rain water, the sole source of drinking water and also a reserve used to supply the baths to the south, which were divided into the traditional frigidarium, tepidarium and calidarium areas. The imperial quarters were on the eastern side, in the highest, best protected part of the building complex, where they were completely isolated from the rest of the structure, but connected by ramps and stairways to the triclinium and the balcony on the northern side. The balcony, designed for walking and viewing the extraordinary panorama, which takes in the entire Gulf of Naples, from the Island of Ischia to the Campanella Point, follows a rectangular design and measures 92 m. (one sixteenth of a Roman mile). To the west of the structure, on the edge of the hill are the remains of a construction made from gridwork with rows of brick. This may have been the ancient observatory (specularium) of Trasillus, the astrologer to the Emperor Tiberius, who also practiced this science. The building complex includes the Church of St. Maria del Soccorso (1700's), which is open only for the feast of the Tiberian Piedigrotta: the mediocre statue located to one side, depicting the virgin holding the child, replaces an earlier statue that was erected in 1901 and struck down by a lightening bolt in 1977. The Roman lighthouse and the Jumping-off point of Tiberius The ruins of a square construction rising to a height of roughly 16 m. at a point approximately 100 m. to the south of the dig were once a signal tower from which fire was used to communicate with Rome via the lighthouses on the Campanella Point and Cape Miseno. Suetonius reports that the lighthouse collapsed on account of an earthquake a few days before the death of Tiberius. It was rebuilt by Domitian and functioned as a lighthouse for ships up to the XVIIth century.

A. MAIURI, 1936 ... despite the skeleton-like bareness of the ruins, the few relics found during the dig... Villa Jovis remains the most alluring ruin on the island; the location, along with the unique nature of the structures and the foundation, make it an exceptional monument... After a year of work without any let-up, the form of the hill has changed... the vineyard that once climbed to the upper terraces and onto the lip of the cisterns has been thinned away; the bones of the hill have been bared here and there; corridors and vaults have been dug out in the immense body of the ruins, restoring the play of the light, the vaults and the blind arches in the face of the awesome setting of Mount Solaro, the Marina Grande and the entire verdant setting of the town of Capri; gradually, the gigantic skeleton of the villa stretched its joints down the slope of the hill, bolding facing out on the sheer precipices while filling every last space between the rocks with itself and its power, until it reappeared as a citadel: palace, villa, castle and fortress.

I testi sono tratti da "Capri Anacapri in 12 Itinerari" di G. Cerami e A. Vitale edito dall'Azienda Autonoma di Cura Soggiorno e Turismo dell'Isola di Capri









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