In his will dated 5 January 1948 Axel Munthe describes how the property he has donated to the Swedish state could be used:
When the San Michele Foundation adopted its charter on 16 June 1950 the purpose was clarified.
“For example as free, or for a suitable fee, housing for Swedish students, artists, researchers, journalists or other guests, who could be presumed to share my feelings for Italy and classical culture, as well as humanistic research as a whole”.
”to promote and deepen Sweden’s cultural links with Italy, and to encourage these in both directions and to support such research as can suitably be performed on the San Michele estate or with this estate as a starting point…. a home for visiting Swedish artists, scientists, composers, authors, journalists, university students and, as space permits, other Swedes with an interest in Italian and classical culture and humanistic research”
Guided by these phrases, the boards and directors of Villa San Michele have tried to turn Munthe’s last wish into practical action. The vague determination has left rather extensive room for interpretations of what cultural exchange might mean. Support has come from the traditions of the house, for example, the concerts, which had already begun in Munthe’s time.