Villa San Michele a Capri

Published in Out of Town
06 September 2017

The museum home of Axel Munthe: a garden open to the sun, the wind and the voices of the sea. Founded by the Institute of Swedish Culture, today it is managed by the Foundation dedicated to Munthe

A small garden overlooking the Sorrento Peninsula: from the viewpoint you sometimes have the optical illusion of being able to touch Punta della Campanella. It overlooks the Marina Grande of Capri, has a park behind and a private villa in the middle, which is the home museum of the Swedish physician and writer Axel Munthe who, in Anacapri, found his buen retiro (retreat) until 1907: a mansion “open to the sun, the wind and the voices of the sea” as he liked to define it.

Fascinated by the pre-existence of a Roman imperial villa, a medieval chapel devoted to the cult of San Michele and the typical Mediterranean and Capri house with white columns, Munthe wanted to make the place a perfect synthesis of his idea of ​​beauty, home, and cure of hospitality. Among all visitors, Queen Victoria of Sweden, who was tied to Munthe by a tender friendship and who spent large vacation periods here. This small botanical jewel is exalted by a valuable artistic collection with Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian finds, grafted with mastery in the garden setting. Today the residence is intact and you really have the impression of visiting a private home enjoying a genuine welcome experience.

The garden is typically Mediterranean also in the architectural system with its 37 white-lined columns that mark many places overlooking this dazzling sea. It is thought to give the visitor the feeling and taste of a rarefied, comforting, and meditative atmosphere. Thus, the avenues are shaded to encourage visitors to go for a walk. We find explosions of azaleas, arranged in large groups, rows of violets and petunia, hydrangeas, magnolias, cedars but also different species of pines and palms coming from afar. There are also many birches to honor the homeland of the owner.

Today the home-museum-garden is administered by the Axel Munthe Villa San Michele Foundation and is a Swedish Cultural Institute with an intense cultural program that embraces literature, theater, ballet, and music. Encouraging cultural collaborations between Italy and Sweden is its main mission, respecting the testamentary will of this enlightened patron of beauty.

Viale Axel Munthe, 34, Anacapri, Capri. T: 0818371401 www.villasanmichele.eu