Villa Malaparte, rationalism and nature
- Villa Malaparte, in Capri, is a gem of rationalist architecture conceived in the 1930s and completed in 1943. Critics are divided about who designed it, with some saying it was the Tuscan writer Malaparte himself and others certain it was creative genius Adalberto Libera.
In 1963, it became the set of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt”, based on the Alberto Moravia novel of the same name; Moravia thus had the chance to describe the Villa:
“A view over the ‘faraglioni’, the white grotto and the natural arch, which could be reached only on foot or by sea, very far from the city center. […] From downtown Capri, you reach the Malaparte estate through a pine forest; to get to the villa you need another ten minutes, along a little road that was built exclusively for that purpose; a steep staircase leads to a very private beach, much lower than the house, while a staircase that takes up an entire side of the villa leads to the roof terrace; on the ground floor are the (four) guest bedrooms and the servants’ quarters. On the upper floor, after the hall, there are Malaparte’s bedroom and the one he decided to name – inspired by D’Annunzio, and making it official with a plate – ‘room of the favorita’” (quotation translated from R. De Ceccatty, “Alberto Moravia”, Bompiani, Milan 2010).
Regarding the paternity of the project, Adalberto Libera’s son has recently stated in an interview with “Italian Ways”:
One thing is for sure: the people in Capri hated Malaparte for what he had written about them and their island (he had described them as perverted and so on). In fact, when he decided to build his villa, they wouldn’t let him transport construction material across the island: he had to have everything delivered by sea, using boats. Anyway, my father and Malaparte often met in a trattoria in the center of Rome – one of those old fashioned restaurants with paper tablecloths – to talk about the project of this villa in Capri. They discussed at length, and drew sketches on the paper tablecloth. My mother kept three of those tablecloths for a while, but unfortunately they went lost in one of the moves after the war. They were obviously the fruit of the encounter of two great minds. But try to imagine this: Curzio Malaparte tells Adalberto Libera he would like a ‘staircase to infinity’ for his villa. It is one thing to say it, and another to design a triangular staircase that can actually open to infinity… To each his own, I guess.
Disputes aside, we are happy to enjoy the wonderful beauty of Villa Malaparte.