The Roman History of Capri, Sicily and Sardinia

As a country indelibly steeped in ancient history, Italy and its islands are ideal places to take students on an educational visit. There are over 50 islands within the Italian jurisdiction, which drastically range in size and importance. Places like Capri, Sicily, and Sardinia are perfect to hone students’ knowledge of Roman history, while enjoying the beautiful food, culture, and beaches that the Italian islands have to offer.

Capri – Capri is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the coast of Naples and Salerno. It makes a terrific starting point for an educational visit that will focus students’ learning on the history of the Roman Empire on Italy’s islands. Capri was first inhabited by the Greeks, and in 29 BC became important in the Roman Empire once Ottaviano (not yet named Augustus) landed and exchanged Ischia with Naples for the island. Later, Emperor Tiberius lived and managed his empire from here for a decade. With two emperors having called the island home, it was lucky enough to benefit from Roman architecture and advances, such as water drainage and storage systems.

Sicily – As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is an unmissable stop for students on an educational visit to learn about the ancient Roman history of the Italian islands. Along with the smaller islands surrounding it, Sicily is its own autonomous region. It was first inhabited by the Greeks, in around 750 BC, and eventually the Mamertines, who came to the island after being hired as mercenaries by Agathocles (the king of Syracuse) to help fight in the Third Sicilian War in 315 BC. Roman domination of the island truly began with the first Punic War in 264 BC. With Hannibal’s defeat in 204 BC, Sicily and Northern Africa were securely in the hands of the Romans. There was much civil unrest and governmental corruption throughout the following years, but the island still managed to prosper. Around 52 CE, Paul stopped by the island, and though Christianity was marginalised at the time, by 313 CE Emperor Constantine had lifted the prohibition against Christianity in the Empire.

Sardinia – As the second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia has abundant stretches of beautiful beaches and extensive Roman historical context for students to focus on during an educational visit. In 238 BC, the Romans were invited into the island’s garrison by insurgents (in violation with the peace treaty Rome had with Carthage), and then threatened the Phoenician city with war. Carthage was obliged to cede Sardinia and Corsica to Rome to preserve the peace. The Romans enlarged and fortified the coastal cities while spreading their language and culture to the inhabitants of the island. In the process, the Romans put down two revolts on the island. Sardinia was under Roman rule for almost 700 years before the Vandals of Africa settled there. They were followed by the Arabs, and a slew of other owners and occupiers, before the Kingdom of Sardinia joined the newly founded Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

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