|1900 re-construction of Villa Jovis by Weichardt|
In the 1st century, Tiberius built twelve villas on Capri, the most famous being Villa Jovis. It was a massive fortress, impregnable to warring attackers, sitting atop Monte Tiberio on the edge of thousand-foot-high sheer cliffs. Today, the vast ruins of the villa are a testament to the skill of Roman architects and builders.
However, the reason for Tiberius’s retreat from Rome to Capri has always been unclear.
In Rome at the time, rumors abounded as to why he had become a recluse, and what exactly he was doing there. In 121 AD, Suetonius wrote The Twelve Caesars, and didn’t hold back on recording exactly what he thought Tiberius was up to at Villa Jovis. He accused Tiberius of debauchery, sexual perversity, cruelty, and wicked ways. The Roman people turned on their emperor, disgusted with him, and after 23 years of rule, he was overthrown by Sejanus, and no longer held the reigns of the Roman Empire.
|Ruins of Villa Jovis. Photo from Wikipedia|
Nearly two thousand years later, Pietro Lombardi grew up on the steep sides of Monte Tiberio in his family home, Villa Rosamanti, a 400 year-old white stone cottage. From his bedroom window, he would have looked up at the huge white ruins that had stood for two thousand years. As a child, he would have explored every inch of the old palace.
Pietro lived with his grandmother – Nonna – and his mother, the only male in the household. From his Nonna, he learned all about loyalty, love, and belonging. Nonna was his rock in a sometimes difficult childhood. She taught him about life, and nurtured him until he was a grown and capable man.
Although life threw some curve balls at Pietro, he grew to be a stoic and reliable man. He is happy working as a chef in his Aunty Maria’s restaurant, turning out authentic Caprese fare to the hordes of tourists and day-trippers to the island.
When Pietro happens to meet an Australian woman who arrives on Capri, his whole world seems to turn upside down. He is forced to face his future, seeing for the first time the opportunities to turn his life in a different direction. But his loyalty to Nonna goes much deeper than pursuing his own dreams. Stubbornly, he fights the notion of change, but there is one thing he is helpless to fight, and that is the power of falling in love.
Rosamanti -- out on December 6th from Etopia Press