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Casa Malaparte

   
 

A Rocky Relationship!

   

 

  

 

Few houses are as instantly recognizable as Casa Malaparte, the stunning modernist villa which sits atop the Mediterranean cliffside at Punto Massullo on Capri and immortalized in Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 Le Mépris (Contempt). 

Part of Casa Malaparte's power lies in its remote location and its relationship to the rocky Mediterranean landscape, sitting as it does some one hundred feet above the sea overlooking the Gulf of Salerno.  Depending on one's perspective it either looks as if the house were part of the rock formation itself or like an ark that has been stranded after high waters have receded.  A nest, an aerie - a place for solitude and contemplation.  Capo Massullo is a peninsula of rock that juts out into the Mediterranean, the cliffsides are steep and drop on three sides - a dramatic and strangely beautiful location. 

Casa Malaparte was finished in 1943 by the Italian architect Adalberto Libera for the writer and diplomat Curzio Malaparte - a house where he could retreat and write.  Malaparte had fallen in love with the coastline of the Bay of Naples when he had been exiled there by Mussolini.  The house is a simple red rectangular box with reverse pyramidal stairs leading up to the roof patio, where a freestanding curved white wall sits like an angel's wing.  It is accessible by foot from the town of Capri or by boat on days when the weather permits, followed by an arduous 99 step ascent.  The square windows offer spectacular views of ocean and sky. 

Neglected after Malaparte's death in 1957 the villa has recently been restored to its previous grandeur.  Using the dramatic Italian coast to fullest advantage, Casa Malaparte does what the best architecture offers - it has the ability to make the human soul soar with the melding of landscape and house into something transcendent.   

 

Read: For collectors - the out of print Malaparte: A House like Me, Michael McDonough 

See: On YouTube: Casa Malaparte in Godard's Le Mepris

 

Tags:  architecture  italy    

 

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