Located on a cliff in the northeast corner of Capri, there are the remains of a place that has a notorious reputation. Villa Jovis, once the home of Emperor Tiberius, is a site shrouded in perverted legends that could make even the most depraved Roman blush. However, some of the rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. There is some evidence that Tiberius indulged in the pain of others, but not everything was true.
Built-in 27 AD, Tiberius retreated to this villa from Rome and governed the Empire from behind its walls until his death ten years later. When he left Rome it set the rumor mills into motion. Tiberius was a brilliant but depressive and increasingly isolated ruler who was often compared to Howard Hughes.
He spent his time secluded in Villa Jovis, engaging in pastimes that were reported and likely exaggerated by hostile later authors. For obvious reasons, Villa Jovis has fascinated authors and artists ever since Tiberius’ death. For whatever his faults, Tiberius left Rome both secure and solvent which was no small feat for an emperor. He also had an intricately engineered system of rain catchers constructed to ensure that the inhabitants of the villa had access to fresh water.
Today, streams of tourists still climb the steep slope to gaze at its ruins, peer over the cliff-top (from where errant subjects were hurled, legend has it), and wonder about the afternoons spent in a place where all the world’s depravities were gathered under one roof.
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