The most important square of the city of Capri is the Piazza Umberto I, which is usually simply called Piazzetta. The square, and the neighborhood it is located in, at the edge of the historical center, are full of restaurants and pubs.
Piazza Umberto I Capri
History and description
Although the Piazza Umberto I is rather small (which is the reason why the locals refer to it as Piazzetta), it is the center of the city’s night life.
As far back as the period the island was under Greek rule, the piazza was the central part of what is now Capri. In those days, it was still protected by a defensive wall. Some bits of what is left of this wall, can still be seen from the terrace.
After the Pax Romana, the wall was mostly dismantled. Not only had it become superfluous, it also impeded the city’s expansion. The only surviving parts were those that were useful for the construction of new buildings.
The square got its present quadrangular shape in the 17th century. Initially, it was used as a Piazza d’Armi, where military exercises are held. These exercises were necessary, because the island was often attacked by Saracen pirates.
Gradually, the square turned into the site of popular festivals and religious rites and processions. It also became the market square of Capri.
Until the 19th century, the island was poor and backward. This changed after the Unification of Italy, when money was supplied to develop the poorer parts of the country.
For the island, this meant a new road between Capri and Anacapri. In order to achieve this, some buildings along the square needed to be demolished. Subsequantly, another road was laid between the piazza and the Marina Grande.
These and other changes led to an increase in tourism to the island. The Piazza, which in 1900 was named after King Umberto I, became the center of this boom.
In 1907, the funicular between the square and the Marina Grande was constructed.
One of the tourist offices of Capri is located in the Piazza Umberto I.