CASA MALAPARTE: ITALIAN MINIMALISM + SECLUSION + GREAT STORY!

This is a marvelous story about a phenomenal house sitting on a promontory on the infamous Isle of Capri in Italy.  I was so intrigued when I read about it in an old issue of ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST that I had to share it with one and all.  The house is called

CASA MALAPARTE,  and it was designed by the Italian Rationalist architect Adalberto Libera and built in 1942 for a rather prolific writer Curzio Malaparte.

THE GREAT STORY: Malaparte was initially a Fascist and actually took part in Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922. He wrote numerous books and directed several metropolitan newspapers. In 1931 he wrote a war novel criticizing Mussolini and Hitler and was arrested and exiled to the tiny island of Lipari in Sicily ( see: PARADISO: PANAREA ) from 1933 to 1938. Eventually freed by the intervention of Galeazzo Ciano, Musollini’s son-in-law, (Ciano was married to Musollini’s illegitimate daughter, Edda / see what happened to him : WHY DID I CALL MY BLOG DEZINLICIOUS!) Malaparte purchased this remote site on Capri  overlooking the Gulf of Salerno and had Adalberto Libera design the house. Rumor has it that he fired Libera and then came up with his own design of extreme minimalism, although the truth in that statement seems hard to believe.

You can either reach the house by walking for 1  1/2 hours from the center of Capri or by boat, weather and water conditions permitting, and then you need to climb a 99 step staircase cut precariously into the cliff to reach the house entrance. Not a house for everyone, but obviously it provided Malaparte with the isolation from the rest of the world he desired.

 

The bold design is actually  quite simple from the outside with one distinguishing feature: the huge,dramatic staircase that provides access to a flat roof with a free form windbreak on it. Other than that the house is a simple red box. The windows are also somewhat noteworthy, in that they are one of the earliest examples of what we today call “”picture windows”, only a frame around the outside of the glass and no molding in the middle.

The house fell into disrepair after Malaparte died in 1957 due to vandalism and nature taking it’s toll. In more recent times the great-nephew of Malaparte, Niccolò Rostani, has taken on the task of restoring the house.  There are still elements of the original spartan interiors to be seen in the house today.

 

MORE OF THE GREAT STORY: Believe it or not the house was featured in a movie directed by Jean Luc-Godard, Le Mépris (Contempt), which featured Brigette Bardot, Jack Palance and Fritz Lang. I went immediately to YouTube to check the movie out and have posted three definite “watches” you will enjoy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

First watch :This video will give you sort of an overall feeling for the architecture and location of CASA MALAPARTE as depicted in Le Mépris:


Then segue to:  Enjoy the computer generated video of how the house looks today. Even though it is all computer graphics, you can get a sense of the interiors of the house.


 

Don’t you find this house so very sexy ? I live it’s isolation and it’s history.  It’s on my bucket list of places I need to visit in Italy for sure!

     

 

CIAO, CIAO ‘TIL NEXT TIME!