Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Capri’s mythical odyssey

It’s one of the most picturesque of Italy’s islands, but there’s more to Capri than picture-postcard beauty. It’s been a draw for the world’s artists for centuries, attracted, and inspired, by the moon-like karst rock formations and pristine blue waters. The presence of so many creative types may help explain why there are abundant myths and legends surrounding the island.

One of Capri’s biggest draws – The Blue Grotto – is thought to be haunted, and was once a shrine to Cybele, a mother goddess. You’d be forgiven for thinking something spiritual was happening when the morning rays of sunlight burst through the opening, turning the water sapphire blue.

Perhaps the most famous mythological characters are The Sirens – beautiful ghostly women whose song lures sailors to their deaths. Homer’s Ulysses sets a dramatic scene off the coast of Capri, when Odysseus, lured by the voices of The Sirens, narrowly avoids his boat being smashed onto the rocks. Other mythical beings featured in Homer’s works include the Laestrygonians, giant cannibals who once conquered Capri and threw boulders from the cliffs to destroy passing vessels. Something to think about if you ever approach the island by sea.