At the beginning of the 20th Century while digging for the enlargement of hotel Quisisana, bones of prehistoric animals were found, together with weapons and tools from the Paleolithic era. These findings support the thesis that Capri was once part of the mainland.
The first to settle in Capri were the Greeks, who reached the island in the 8th Century BC. The only remains from that period are traces of the Greek walls, Phoenician steps that connect Marina Grande with Anacapri and some epigraphs in the stones.
It is believed that the first Roman Emperor to reach the island of Capri was Augustus, but it was actually Ottaviano, who arrived in 29 BC and, deeply impressed by the incredible beauty of the island, took it from Naples, in exchange for Ischia. Soon after Ottaviano, Emperor Tiberius resided on the island for a decade and it was from Capri that he managed the Roman Empire. It is said that Tiberius asked to open a private access from above, to enter the “Grotta Azzurra” that he used as a private nymphaeum. The island of Capri is deeply influenced by the presence of the two emperors, who gave a significant mark to the architecture and the development of the urban area. Besides the construction of the port, the sophisticated drainage and water storage systems, farms and dwellings, also twelve Imperial villas were built during the stay of the two emperors. Just to quote some examples, Villa Jovis, Villa Palazzo a Mare and Villa Damecuta were built during the Roman Empire time.
It was in the very early middle ages that San Costanzo, the future patron of the island, arrived to Capri and in the 9th Century a cathedral was built on the site of his grave.
During the 7th Century, Capri suffered many attacks from the Saracens, who would deport the inhabitants as slaves, while in the following centuries it was dominated by the Duchy of Naples, Longobards, Normans, Anjouins, Aragonese and the Spanish.
In the 17th Century Capri was hit by the plague which rampaged through the whole Country in that period and it killed over 300 inhabitants of the island.
Soon after, in the 1800s the name “Capri” started becoming known all around the world and in a few years Capri’s fame increased with the growing interest in travel, which brought to the island the first of a long stream of foreign visitors.
It was in 1826 that the Blue Grotto was “rediscovered” so spreading the fame of the island around Europe and beyond, attracting travellers from all the corners of the world. Thanks to this event, a new chapter of Capri history begins and the island is conquered only by tourists, writers, artists and royal families. Amongst those to have stayed on the Island of Capri we find the Russian exile Maksim Gorkij, the German artist Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Count Jacques Fersen, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, Miradois (the monk who lived in the Cave of Matromania), the writer Norman Douglas, Thomas Mann to quote just a few and, more recently, Pablo Neruda and Graham Green.