Villa Jovis

Top choice ruins in Capri

Image by De Agostini / L. Romano Getty Images

Villa Jovis was the largest and most sumptuous of 12 Roman villas commissioned by Roman Emperor Tiberius (AD14–37) on Capri, and his main island residence. A vast complex, now reduced to ruins, it famously pandered to the emperor’s supposedly debauched tastes, and included imperial quarters and extensive bathing areas set in dense gardens and woodland. It's located a 45-minute walk east of Capri Town along Via Tiberio.

The villa's spectacular 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, whose remains you can still see today.

Beside the ticket office, which closes 45 minutes before site closing time, is 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.