Axel Munthe is a name to remember. This man's incredible life story is a must-read. Hailing from Sweden he became the youngest doctor to ever graduate from a Paris university, spent time in the wild with the Laps; went into the middle of Naples worst ever cholera epidemic at great risk to his own life; had a passion for animals and attracted some of the richest clients with his bedside manner.
His obsession with Capri stemmed from an earlier visit and the possibility of moving there never left him. Finally it happened and the villa you walk through is the result.
This man understood the people, understood the history and loved the island. It's not only reflected in his villa but his book that I am frightened to finish because I don't want it to ever end; such is the wonder of this man's world.
In the villa you will see Roman mosaics (pic 5), classical bas reliefs (pic 4), strange things like the mouse trap (pic 2) and the iconic Sphinx in the opening picture.
It reflects a man who treasured the past, art and the importance of a good garden, all things I can relate to. I loved it, a must-see on Capri.
At the ancient entrance to Anacapri and occupying the site of an ancient Roman villa, Villa San Michele was built by Axel Munthe (1857-1949), who was physician to the Swedish royal family and also practiced both in Paris and in Rome, thereby building up a substantial fortune, much of which he plowed into real estate in Anacapri. The villa is set around Roman-style courtyards, marble walkways, and atriums, connected by a spectacular pergola path overlooking the entire Bay of Naples. Rooms display the doctor's varied collections, which range from bric-a-brac to classical antiquities. Medieval choir stalls, Renaissance lecterns, and gilded statutes of saints comprise the esthetic setting, with some rooms preserving the doctor's personal memorabilia.
A number of interesting Mediterranean plants can be seen in the gardens, as well as some which originally come from other latitudes. The view from the gardens is one of the most expansive views which opens out over the Bay of Naples.
It is worth noting the coordination and alignment of the gardens, the architecture and the respective collections.
The villa is situated on the north-eastern slope of Anacapri, 327 meters above sea level. In ancient times the villa of a Roman Emperor was situated here, the remains of which were preserved by Axel Munthe and which can still be viewed in the gardens. In the grounds there are also the ruins of a mediaeval chapel which has not gone untouched by fate; it was rebuilt by Munthe into what is today known as the Chapel of San Michele. The villa itself incorporates . a simple peasant house. These buildings were Munthe's home from 1896 to 1910.
San Michele is a Swedish cultural institution on the island of Capri. It consists of a museum surrounded by unusually beautiful grounds, a guest house for Swedish citizens engaged in cultural work or in research, a nature reserve for the protection of migrating birds and the preservation of certain Mediterranean flora, as well as the Barbarossa Mountain.
Hop onto a bus and head straight to Anacapri.
The 10-minute bus ride is dramatically beautiful and equally hair-raising as the vehicle winds and turns, (seemingly) precariously on the narrow roads leading up to Anacapri. At one point, I even had to shut my eyes! Scary, man...
Upon reaching your destination, get off at Piazza della Vittoria and take a leisurely 5 minute stroll down Via San Michele to Axel Munthe's opulent VILLA SAN MICHELE.
The villa was built for the Swedish physician and writer - Axel Munthe, author of the well-known novel "The Story of San Michele". He refurbished his country home and an old chapel dedicated to San Michele (originally built on exquisitely decorated ruins from the Augustan age) to the fine residence that it is well-known for today.
It is owned by the Swedish Munthe Foundation and is open to the public. Many of Dr Munthe's original possessions - including countless archaeological artifacts, can be viewed today at the Villa.
Admission Fee: €5.00.
The gardens of Villa San Michele is a must see. The foliage and flowers are just gorgeous. One can spend hours and just enjoy the pleasantries.
One must not miss to visit the Villa San Michele. Henry James called this villa and garden "the most fantastic beauty, poetry, and inutility that one had ever seen clustered together."