Villa Jovis and Isle of Capri, Italy

Villa Jovis on the Isle of Capri

We visited the Isle of Capri while we were staying in Naples. Capri is a beautiful island and a visit to Villa Jovis was the main attraction for us. As a result, it would be an excellent historical tour and also very scenic. Additionally, the weather could not have been better for photos and sightseeing.

Ferry transport to the Isle of Capri from Naples is simple and inexpensive. The trip is only about 1.5 hours each way. As a result, it makes an ideal day trip.

Unfortunately, we arrived early to find Villa Jovis closed. However, we were able to hop over the fence! We had checked the Villa Jovis opening hours beforehand but apparently they are not precisely followed.

Where is Villa Jovis?

When you arrive at Marina Grande on the Isle of Capri you can get a Villa Jovis map at the tourist office in the main square. However, the map really isn’t necessary because the route to the villa is easily understood. They can point you in the right direction and when you are on the right street you just go 2 kilometers straight to the top.

Brief History of Villa Jovis

The Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero ruled the Roman Empire from 14 A.C.E to 37 A.C.E. Tiberius was an experienced general and politician. Therefore, under his tenure Rome remained strong militarily and economically.

However, Tiberius was not comfortable in the public spotlight of Rome. As a result, he decided to relocate to the Isle of Capri. This is because assassination and political maneuvering were a growing threat. Ironically, the main threat was from his own wickedly powerful mother, Livia Drusilla.

For Tiberius, the seclusion and security of the island was ideal. Villa Jovis was located on the top of Mt Tiberius (334m) on the northern end of Capri. The towering cliffs on that end of the island protected the villa from intruders. Additionally, the jagged rocks and the Gulf of Naples lie far below.

Construction of Villa Jovis was completed in 27 A.C.E. As a result, Tiberius would rule the empire from there for 10 years until his death in 37 A.C.E.

This is the reception area for royal guests located on the east wing of Villa Jovis. Additionally, there are tremendous views from around the villa. Anacapri and Mt Solaro are seen in the background on the southern end of Capri.

This is a photo of me taken at the southern end of Villa Jovis. The photo is towards the south with Anacapri and Mt Solaro in the background.

Photo of Sorrento Peninsula taken from Villa Jovis. This also provides a example of the cliffs that are featured on the northern end of the villa.

Salacious Rumors about Villa Jovis

Rumors swirl around Villa Jovis concerning the salacious inclinations of the Emperor Tiberius. Apparently, the secluded location facilitated the unbridled sexual depravity of Tiberius. However, these accounts are mainly attributed to one ancient historian named Suetonius.

Due to political intrigue it is best to remain open minded about the emperor’s personal character. However, it can be noted that Tiberius was the mentor of his successor Caligula. Unfortunately, history leaves little doubt about the depraved mental state of Caligula.

This is a secret passageway on the northern end of Villa Jovis near the residence of the emperor. Was this the location of wild debauchery?

This long pathway ran along the northern side of the villa. The personal residence of Tiberius was located in the northeast section. Therefore, it would have been located near this location on the right side.

In addition to sexual depravity, Tiberius was alleged to be ruthless and bloodthirsty. Therefore, he would have undesirable guests and servants tossed from the cliffs to meet their grisly deaths on the rocks below.

The location of these alleged executions was at the southeast end of Villa Jovis at “Salto Di Tiberio” in Italian or “Tiberius leap” in English.

Tiberius Leap

“Salto Di Tiberio” or Tiberius Leap

Tiberius Leap

There is a view point at the location of “Tiberius Leap”. The Sorrento Peninsula is seen in the background across the Gulf of Naples.

Location of Villa Jovis

The location of Villa Jovis is about a 2 kilometer walk from the ferry terminal. Since the walk is uphill most of the way it is slightly taxing. Additionally, the Villa covers about 1.7 acres or 7000 sq meters and there is a variation in elevation of about 40 meters. But nothing too serious!

However, we decided to visit the grottoes and also the Arco Naturale on the way back. As a result, the walk back was more strenuous than the way in, but well worth the effort.

Photo of Arco Naturale. Unfortunately, the area near the Arco Naturale was under construction and we could not get very close to it.

Stairs leading from Villa Jovis to the grottoes on the backside of the island.

The backside of the Isle of Capri taken as we descended.

Conclusion

The day trip to Capri and Villa Jovis was excellent and it should be included in all visits to Naples. After the strenuous hike back into town we caught the bus to Anacapri for lunch and then returned to the ferry terminal in the evening. 

The streets of Marina Grande on the Isle of Capri.

Additional sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Jovis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberius