It was said that in Axel Munthe’s one major book there were enough plots and short stories to fill the rest of most writers’ lives. 
It became a beloved classic, variously described as amazing, horrible, hilarious, romantic, pitiful, enchanting, and possessing that strange simplicity of mind which is often the attribute of genius. 
In 1887, he began to restore the Villa San Michele on Capri, and found himself doing much of the work, cajoling local residents into giving him a hand. His experiences form the basis of the book that outshone anything else he wrote, The Story of San Michele. With just a charcoal sketch drawn on a garden wall to guide them, Munthe and his helpers rebuilt the house and chapel over five summers, their often hopeless-seeming project leading them to buried skeletons and ancient coins, and to some very funny encounters with a cast of eccentric villagers. 
The book is simply written but passionate, dream-like, and redolent of a hot Italian summer – and it also contains discussions with animals and supernatural entities. His son continued his mansion-remodelling legacy.




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