Capri's Villa of Light
Oct 21, 2015
"My house must be open to the sun, to the wind, and the voice of the sea, just like a Greek temple, and light, light everywhere!".
Built in the late 19th century by the Swedish physician and writer Axel Munthe, Villa San Michele and its gardens certainly live up to his words! Evoking the natural beauty of the island of Capri, it was built on the site of a ruined chapel dedicated to San Michele. The chapel, also restored by Munthe, was built over much earlier Roman ruins, thought to be a villa of the Emperor Tiberius.
During construction many relics of these historic sites were discovered and incorporated into the villa and gardens. Munthe was also an avid collector of antiquities and many of his treasures from Greece, Egypt and around the Mediterranean found places of honor in his design. The result is a tranquil paradise, with breathtaking views, secluded groves and cool white walls reaching to the blue Capri skies.
An avid ornithologist, Munthe created a protected area for migrating birds previously preyed upon in alarming numbers by hunters with vast nets who would pack them tightly, still alive, in crates bound for Paris restaurants. His purchase of their prefered
habitat created a haven not only for the birds and other wildlife, but also assured the gardens would be serenaded with birdsong all year long.
One frequent guest was the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. Munthe was her personal physician and a close friend and she stayed with Munthe in Capri often due to poor health. Sharing his passion for animals, arts, music and literature, she no doubt found it a haven as well.
We visited Villa San Michele this October, out of high season, but still a busy time of year for the island. After dodging through streets filled with tourists, buses and taxis we were happy to find ourselves in this calm oasis! We had a light meal of tea and panini at the cafe on the villa grounds, also with a stunning view of Capri, then made our way through the gardens. Like my namesake, I felt restored by the blue, blue Capri skies, the turquoise seas far below and the cool green of the garden walks. All while listening to the birdsong Munthe made possible in this treasured space!
In Splendid Company has now included Capri in our week long tour! Join us and discover the hidden gems and beauties like Villa San Michele just off the beaten path. Spring and Fall tours are booking now, for more information take a look at our website at www.insplendidcompany.com!
In Splendid Company
- Victoria Harper
Victoria Harper is the tour guide and owner of In Splendid Company