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Villa San Michele

Villa San Michele
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Axel Munthe

The Royal Connection
The Story of San Michele
Historic Photo Album
Axel Munthe Today
Munthe’s BBC Program

The Garden

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Barbarossa the Castle

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Melaleuca armillaris

The knotted trunk of this tree almost seems to hug the right hand side of the medieval chapel in the garden. Melaleuca armillaris is a member of the myrtle family and comes from Southern Australia. In the olden days, on Capri, they used branches of myrtle to sweep the streets. It is not known how this tree arrived in the gardens of Villa San Michele.

Eokochia saxicola

This small and insignificant looking plant with minute greenish flowers is actually the rarest in the whole garden. ”This is one of the most unusual and interesting plants in the whole of Italian flora”, writes the Italian botanist Sandro Pignatti (1930–). Eokochia saxicola only grows on Capri, Capo Palinuro and the uninhabited rocky island of Strombolicchio near Stromboli. The two examples present in Villa San Michele are a gift from the botanical garden of Naples.

The Birch Tree

Above the sculptor Carl-Gustaf Ekberg’s bust of Axel Munthe, there stands a Swedish birch tree. The first manager of Villa San Michele, Josef Oliv, at all costs wanted to have an example of this Nordic tree in the garden. There are many stories of various birch trees that had to be refrigerated before planting, and it took a long time before any of them actually rooted. The one example that has survived is not especially beautiful. However, it does appear to be the southernmost of its kind in Europe.

The Avenue of Cypress Trees

The natural extent of the garden ends with the avenue of 30 cypress trees which stretches from the chapel down to the sarcophagus by the exit. According to Munthe in The Story of San Michele, the plants came from Villa d'Este in Tivoli. Munthe used to walk up and down this part of the garden during his sleepless nights.
Some of the trees that were planted by Axel Munthe are still alive. Unfortunately, many of them are corroded by a parasite and require a special treatment. We hope to be able to cure as many as possible.