Monday, October 7, 2013

Villa San Michele & Monte Solaro, Capri

The Villa San Michele was built around the turn of the 20th century by the Swedish physician, Axel Munthe, on the ruins of the Roman Emperor Tiberius's villa, on the Isle of Capri, Italy. Its gardens have panoramic views of Capri town and its marina, the Sorrentine Peninsula and Mount Vesuvius.

Villa San Michele on Capri is not a residence in the ordinary meaning of the word. It is rather the bearer of Axel Munthe’s thoughts and feelings about beauty and the great questions of life.

Seldom do literature and reality come together so successfully as in case of San Michele. In the year 1929 the publication of the original English edition of Dr. Axel Munthe’s "The Story of San Michele" was such a bestseller that it went immediately into a second edition, and by the following year readers were traveling to Capri to see the home of the author named in the title.

The number of objects in marble, stone, mosaic, and terracotta total around 655. There are around 530 in wood, metal, ceramics and textiles. The collection can be said to be divided into several main themes, such as nature and animal images, as well as death and dying. 

Axel Munthe, the son of a chemist, was born at Oskarshamn in 1857 and grew up in Vimmerby and Stockholm, Sweden. After completing a preparatory degree in medicine at Uppsala University in 1876, he was sent in the autumn of that same year to Menton on the French Riviera for the sake of his lungs. It was in this connection that he visited Capri for the first time.

The Egyptian Sphinx, half lion, half woman. When the Roman emperor Tiberius lived on the island, the sphinx was already 1000 years old. We’ll probably never know how Axel Munthe found his sphinx. It probably doesn’t even come from the island, but it does come from Egypt and it has adorned a villa in the Roman Empire. Now the fantasy creature is on the last outpost of Axel Munthe’s villa looking towards the rising sun in the east.

Inside the chapel there is another masterpiece from Egypt, the so-called Horus falcon.

The architecture is there to emphasize the magnificence of the landscape, at the same time forming a worthy framework for the works of art. In this respect the park plays an important role.

Monte Solaro

Monte Solaro, soaring 589 meters above sea level, is the highest and most panoramic point on the island of Capri. Here the view extends across the whole of the island of Capri, the surrounding Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast and as far as the distant mountains of Calabria.

The easiest way to get to Monte Solaro is by chairlift. The journey to the top takes about 12 minutes. 

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