Capri Diem

Ninfisa, the way of the sources

Water has been a precious commodity for the life of the island. Every drop had to be preserved and, as is evident in the Roman villas of Capri, the cistern was the first and most important element in the construction of a house.

The search for the springs was vital, fundamental for the survival of the community on the island. Just below the famous Piazzetta, there is Acquaviva, where, near the ancient Porta di Capri, a spring flows from the rock which, for centuries, was the main source where the families of the village drew water.

Continuing to go down, you arrive at via Marucella, which derives its name from the Latin Maris Cellae. The ancient Romans built many cisterns in this place that, put together, seemed to be at sea. Via Veruotto itself takes its name from the Arab Biruotto. place of wells.

Even now, in the adjacent via Corigliano, there are three large Roman cisterns, fed with water that comes directly from Mount Solaro. The main one is more than 60 meters long and has been used for 40 years to cool the engines of the SIPPIC power plant.

Many archaeologists think that these Roman cisterns were built using the large caves called Tiberius, where murine clay was extracted, precious for building precious vessels of the Augustan age. Continuing along via Marucella, you arrive in Torra.

Precisely in this place were found marble slabs, with Greek inscriptions, which suggest that the first Greek agora stood here. In the Tiberian period, from Torra, from huge cisterns, through large pipes, the water left for the ships that stopped in the Roman port, located at the end of the current beach. In the eighth century AD, this locality was called Ninfisa, city of waters, from Ninpheum.

A first Caprese community settled there which, due to frequent Saracen raids, moved, around the year one thousand, to the village of Castromaggiore, today’s Capri.

Even the ancient road, which led to the Palazzo a mare di Augusto, was called Bevaro in the Middle Ages, as the Carthusians built a large shelter where the herds could drink from the waters of the cisterns.

edited by Renato Esposito

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