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Lonely Planet review for Villa Jovis
East of the town centre, a comfortable 2km walk along Via Tiberio, Villa Jovis is sure to capture your imagination. Standing 354m above sea level, this was the largest and most sumptuous of the island’s 12 Roman villas and was Tiberius’ main Capri residence. Although reduced to ruins, wandering around will give you a good idea of the scale on which Tiberius liked to live.
This vast pleasure complex famously pandered to the emperor’s saucy desires, and included imperial quarters and extensive bathing areas set in dense gardens and woodland.
Spectacular but hardly practical, the villa’s location posed major headaches for Tiberius’ architects. The main problem was how to collect and store enough water to supply the villa’s baths and 3000-sq-metre gardens. The solution they eventually hit upon was to build a complex canal system to transport rainwater to four giant storage tanks; you can still spy the remains clearly today.
The stairway behind the villa leads to the 330m-high Salto di Tiberio (Tiberius’ Leap), a sheer cliff from where, as the story goes, Tiberius had out-of-favour subjects hurled into the sea. True or not, the stunning views are real enough; if you suffer from vertigo, tread carefully.
A short walk from the villa, down Via Tiberio and Via Matermània, is the Arco Naturale – a huge rock arch formed by the pounding sea and another great photo opportunity.