Villa San Michele on Capri
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Click on the photos to see a full-screen blow-up.

Axel Munthe often reached San Michele by the ancient Phoenician stairway, which for centuries was the only way to get to the town of Anacapri from the harbor.

A bird's-eye view of the villa, nestled into the hillside beneath a cheery blanket of broom flowers. A colonnade runs along the side of the hill.

Munthe placed his statue of Diana, the huntress, so that she could gaze across the water at the islands of Ischia and Procida, visible beyond the mist.

In an outer corner of the gardens, bright red and yellow tulips gather beneath the dark green laurel trees.

Pause a moment in the chapel door. Listen to the breeze playing in the umbrella pines. Along the low wall, flowers grow in planters made of ancient capitals.

"Cypress Lane" leads to the chapel entrance. Munthe brought the trees here from Villa D'Este, in northern Italy. On a night of the full moon, he planted them in two straight rows, and there they flourish today.

Just outside the chapel is a small terrace with a large view of the Bay of Naples.

The colonnade ends at the "Rotonda," where you can stand and see the harbor of Marina Grande, or sit and gaze at Axel Munthe's beloved garden.

Across the bay from the Rotonda lies the mainland, with Sorrento at its eastern tip.

From the Rotonda, a narrow stone staircase leads to the upper chapel, bathed in the warm afternoon sun.

An arched passageway leads from the garden to the small cloister, where ivy-covered walls frame the Bay of Naples.

Click here for Villa San Michele's website.

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