The most iconic villa in Capri, is without a doubt “Casa come me”! Our protagonist today is the owner and designer of this villa, Italian writer, filmmaker, war correspondent, and diplomat — Curzio Malaparte.
Today I live on an island, in a house that is sad, hard, severe, that I built for myself, solitary on a sheer rock over the sea: a house that is the spectre, the secret image of prison. The image of my nostalgia. Maybe I never desired, not even then, to escape from jail. Man is not meant to live freely in freedom, but to be free inside a prison.Curzio Malaparte
When Curzio Malaparte felt in love for Capri
Malaparte was first introduced to the island by Ambassador Guglielmo Rulli, a good friend of his, in the 1930s. It was the time when the writer terminated an agonizing relationship with Virginia Agnelli, daughter-in-law of the founder of Fiat. He was eager to take a break away from Forte dei Marmi, where was the setting of their love story.
In Capri, Malaparte immediately fell for Capo Masullo, a promontory rock. Capo Masullo was one of those monuments in the island on which the wind and waves engraved over time magnificent traces of nature. Malaparte decided to build a casa come me, a house like me in English, upon Capo Masullo.
The Construction of Casa Come Me
Capo Masullo, is in a privileged position to enjoy a unique view of Faraglioni and the White Grotto. Malaparte bought the ownership of the land and obtained a building permit. As expected, he came into conflict with the local community whose intention is to keep all buildings of Capri faithful to tradition.
The writer had very ambitious plans for his home, he wanted a different, modern, spartan construction, in harmony with the surrounding nature. He brought Adalberto Libera, the famous architect from Rome into this project, but it was Malaparte himself who designed most of the artistic details. In fact, Casa Come Me is now regarded as one of the most interesting examples of modern architecture.
Malaparte spent many years of his short life in Capri, and the relationship between him and the locals was undeniably complex. The writer’s macabre humor, his ascetic but cumbersome life, his play between truth and falsehood earned him more enemies than friends. A
xel Munthe, the famous Swedish doctor, psychiatrist, a whimsical writer, as well as the owner of Villa San Michele was one of those famous enemy-friends. Munthe even warned the American officers against Malaparte, calling him ‘one of the scoundrels around, even for an Italian’. Edwin Cerio, the beloved mayor of Capri, also had many conflicts with Malaparte. Cerio committed to ensuring that all new buildings in the island should maintain a traditional style, with stone walls, white painted exteriors, barrel vaults, in complete contrast to Casa Malaparte.
Curzio Malaparte in China
Malaparte left Capri as he obtained the visa for visiting Russia and China as a journalist from Tempo and Vie Nuove in 1956. During his trip, he fell in love with China and Chinese people, thus he was planning to launch a project called Foundation for Chinese artists in Italy and in his will donated his villa to this foundation. The management of this foundation was to be taken over by the government of PRC, who also undertook the annual payment for the expenses of the foundation and the maintenance of the venue. It would have been a magnificent showcase of Chinese culture as well as a wonderful opportunity to consolidate the relation between Chinese and European artists.
Unfortunately, things turned out differently. Malaparte’s relatives opposed to the implementation of his will and brought this case to the tribunal. At the time, Italy had not yet established diplomatic relations with the PRC. For that reason, at end of this judicial battle, Malaparte’s testamentary gift was finally forgotten. And Capri never achieved the same reputation in Beijing as it does in Europe, in the U.S., and in Japan.
The dream of Malaparte
Sixty-five years later, Celeste believes that it is time to resume Malaparte’s dream! We are planning to organize an art festival that reconstructs the relation between Capri and China, in remembrance of our protagonist of today.
Also, you can learn more about Malaparte and see his stunning house on our hiking tour in Matromania!