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Villa San Michele

Villa San Michele
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Architecture

”I want my house open to the sun and wind and the voice of the sea, like a Greek temple, and light, light, light everywhere". Thus wrote Axel Munthe in his book The Story of San Michele.

Munthe acquired the land for the house of his dreams in 1895. The point of departure for its construction was the already existing building which belonged to its former owner, the master carpenter Vincenzo Alberino, who lived and worked on the ground floor with his family. The upper floor he let in order to help with putting food on the table.
"Inside the house, there reigns the contrast between black and white. In the loggia, the colors of the garden take over, along with the ever-shifting shades of blue of the Mediterranean. Here, one begins to sense the Greek temple Munthe speaks of."
At the turn of the last century, neoclassicism and symbolism were in fashion. In Rome, Munthe had made acquaintance with the well known painter Aristide Sartorio, who often came to Capri and assisted Munthe with drawings. Munthe also employed excellent local builders and bricklayers.
Villa San Michele has traits of both traditional Caprese architecture and of a modern version of a domus from Roman times. It is, however, in the transition between house and garden that the artistic and architectural collaboration in the San Michele project begins to resemble Munthe’s romantic description. Within the almost monastic courtyard of the sculpture loggia, the wall recesses frame the surrounding vegetation and the Bay of Naples like exquisite works of art.
Inside the house, there reigns the contrast between black and white. In the loggia, the flowers take over, along with the ever-shifting shades of blue of the sky and the Mediterranean. Here, one begins to sense the Greek temple Munthe speaks of and more than anywhere else by the sphinx, which rests on a balustrade next to the medieval chapel. Up here, you can really feel the sun and the wind and hear the voices of the sea.