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Associazione Culturale e Casa Editrice  -  Via San Costanzo, 8   80073 Capri   Italy  -  Email info@oebalus.org


        As stated by Strabo, the large-scale building policy implemented by Augustus throughout the island was continued by Tiberius, to whom tradition attributes both the construction of villas and the use of hollow rocks and caves. However, according to Suetonius’ malicious version of the history of Capri, Tiberius merely used these latter to organize orgies with young people. Despite the disparaging intentions of the biographer, many grottoes on the island were certainly used during Roman times and it is quite possible that many of the natural marvels of Capri were used as lusty nymphaea.


Grotta di Matermania

      Situated halfway along the coast line, Grotta di Matermania was artificially reshaped during Roman times as proved by the fact that the walls date back to that age. Inside, the grotto is divided into two rooms and was originally lined with a barrel vault ceiling. Unfortunately the ceiling has col-lapsed. The larger room ends in an apse formed by two podia - a semicircular platform supporting a second oval platform - both showing traces of painted decorations. A short stairway rises out of the centre of the two podia. Traces of plaster and the remains of the vaulted ceiling can still be seen in the smaller room. The grotto was decorated with marble statues and glass paste mosaics of which only very few traces remain. In no way can the obscure name Matermania link the grotto to the worship of Magna Mater Cybele or the god Mithra, despite many attempts founded on arbitrary and incorrect interpretations. In fact this grotto was merely a nymphaeum like many other grottoes on Capri.



Grotta del Castiglione

Grotta dell'Arsenale

 (texts by Eduardo Federico, Roberta Belli - fhotographs by Marco Amitrano)