Villa San Michele

March 3, 2009 / Places
villasanmichele1It is beautiful in winter, untrammelled and un-trampled. And luckily Axel Munthe’s visionary creation, the Villa San Michele, built on the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ palace, is open all year round. Munthe intended the villa to offer many impressions, each scene dressed with props from antiquity.

Drama abounds. A huge antique head protrudes from a wall – Dr. Samuel Johnson breaking through from another dimension.

A sphinx turns its glossy rump to the visitor, preferring to gaze forever at the cobalt sea.

The stage manager of these scenes was many people: a hero physician who treated the poor for free, an advocate of animal welfare, a musician and writer and the intimate friend of royalty.

villasanmichele2A publicist too. The Story of San Michele was first published in 1929 and is still in print.

Above all Axel Munthe seems to have lived out his motto, assisting the Red Cross in WWI, fighting a cholera outbreak in Naples or taming the rugged landscape of Capri…

“Live unafraid, trust in life!” villasanmichele4

Penny Ewles-Bergeron

by Penny Ewles-Bergeron

Author, artist… celebrating the many good things in Naples.

5 Responses to “Villa San Michele”

  1. Evanne Brandon Diner

    Thanks, Penny. I have read the book, and recommend it highly, but wondered what the place looked like in person. Did you walk up all those steps?

    I’m also an I N Contributor and a painter, so hope we get to meet one day.



  2. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks Evanne. I’ve read your notes with pleasure. Confession time – I haven’t yet read the book but it’s on my wishlist. The villa is one of those places where you can imagine the personality of the creator/designer continuing to hover over the garden and inhabit the house. I imagine that’s a luxury that only the out of season months can provide, but it is a stunning spot and the views are quite lovely. Thankfully our party took a bus up to Anacapri and it was a pleasant stroll from there so no steps involved.

    It would indeed be delightful to meet one day. All the best, Penny

  3. Marifran

    Dear Penny, it was great to see this. Years ago I read a condensed version of The Story of San Michele in A Readers Digest volume, and it is one of my favorite stories. I thought the book was now out of print! Must try to get a copy. Loved the photos you posted; are any others available for posting on Italian Notebook?

  4. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Dear Evanne and Marifran. I can now say I’ve read the book. It breaks all the rules of genre! Part memoires, part social commentary, part rant, part fantasy (I suspect), all fascinating, I found it ‘unputdownable’. I do have other photos, but I think photos on the site need to be attached to a note. Will ask the esteemed editor for your email address and send some on direct to you, if that’s ok. Best, Penny

  5. Please do have editor send some pictures to my web address. Enter Villa San Michelle on the subject line so I don’t automatically delete the email. Thank you.


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