The origin of the name Capri can be traced back to the Greeks, the first colonists to populate the island in recorded time. Capri was derived from the Latin Greek "Kapros" (wild boar), and the numerous fossil remains of that animal found on Capri confirm that it was once the Island of the Wild Boars.
Inhabited since the Paleolithic age, when it was still attached to the mainland, the island later became Greek, and then Roman. After visiting Capri in 29 BC, Caesar Augustus was so taken with the island's beauty that he bought it from the city of Naples (Napoli), giving up the nearby island of Ischia in return. Legend has it that his successor, Tiberius, who lived there from 27 to 37 AD, built twelve villas, dedicating them to the twelve gods of Olympus.
From the most magnificent of these dwellings, the Villa Jovis, he ruled the Roman Empire. Other emperors spent time in Capri, which was visited and inhabited by Roman nobles up through the 4th century AD.
Returned to the ownership of the Duchy of Naples (Napoli), the island was raided by the Saracens in the 6th and 7th centuries, and was dominated during various periods in the years that followed by the Longobards, the Normans, the Angevins, the Aragonese, and, finally, the Spanish.
The island experienced a period of renewed good fortune in the 17th and 18th centuries, coinciding with the great political and artistic upswing of Naples (Napoli), and thanks to the existence of an active church diocese, as well as the privileges granted the island, first by the Spanish and then by the Bourbons. Evidence of this golden period is the stupendous architecture of the churches and convents built in the Capri Town and Anacapri.
Beginning in the second half of the 18th century, the island became a preferred destination of the Bourbons, who went there to hunt quail and simply to travel. Many of the increasing number of visitors from the north who came to take in the magnificently primitive nature of the south included the island in their travel plans and gave the world its first images of Capri. Unfortunately, their arrival also brought about the systematic plundering of the extensive Roman ruins, preserved almost intact throughout the centuries. As a result, a tremendously rich heritage was devastated and dispersed, so that today only a few traces remain. These are found primarily in the digs that are resumed at periodic intervals.
Starting in the first half of the last century, in the wake of the discovery of the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto), the flow of Italian and foreign tourists began, being drawn to the island by the climate, the hospitality of the people, and the colors and magnetic atmosphere of the various sites. Writers, painters, exiles, from the end of the 1800s until WWII, many chose the island as their year-round or seasonal residence, building villas and contributing to the creation of the multi-facetted, multi-lingual, cosmopolitan colony that made the name Capri famous and established the island's myth.