In describing his cherished home of Villa San Michele, Axel Munthe exclaimed, “My home shall be open for the sun and the wind and the voices of the sea – like a Greek temple – and light, light, light everywhere!”
Munthe, born in 1857, gained prominence for his book “The Story of San Michele,” which chronicled his experiences as a doctor in Paris and Rome, as well as his semi-retirement at Villa San Michele. He also served as the physician to the Swedish royal family, a detail included in his novel. Munthe’s book gained widespread popularity due to his detailed accounts of his unique life, personality, and experiences, particularly his relationship with Crown Princess Victoria, whom he served not only as a personal physician but also as a close friend and confidant.
Built at the end of the 19th century on the island of Capri, Villa San Michele is a testament to Munthe’s architectural genius, despite having no prior experience in the field. Munthe dedicated a significant portion of his life to constructing the villa and its surrounding gardens. During his time building the villa, Capri was littered with ruins from Emperor Tiberius’ many villas, including marble columns and statues buried beneath the dirt and grass. Rather than discarding these items, Munthe kept them, other islanders finding these artifacts themselves would also deliver them to Munthe’s door. He then added these artifacts, along with Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian artifacts he had collected during his travels, to his massive collection.
Today, Villa San Michele remains one of the most beautiful spots in Italy’s coastal region, featuring breathtaking views, meticulously maintained gardens and historic artifacts. The villa boasts an impressive collection of works of art, including sacred Medieval art, Tuscan fixtures from the 1700s, and several Roman marble statues. The lush gardens are filled with blossoming flowers and growing vines, offering an enchanting experience for visitors. However, the most striking feature of Villa San Michele is undoubtedly the stunning view of the entire island and the sapphire blue sea.
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