On the eastern side of Italy’s Isle of Capri is an unusual house known as Casa Malaparte.
The design was conceived around the year 1937 by famed Italian architect Adalberto Libera. The client he prepared the plans for, however, rejected Libera’s drawings and fired him. The client – writer Curzio Malaparte – went on to build the house himself with the assistance of a local stonemason.
It would not be overly dramatic to say that this home was born of conflict. Architects can be cantankerous creatures. When they are paired with artistic clients who have a strong vision of their own, conflicts are inevitable.
Nonetheless, Casa Malaparte came into being and has been enchanting the waters of Gulf of Salerno for over 70 years now.
The structure is basically a masonry box with reverse pyramidal stairs leading up to the wide roof-top patio. The design alone is daring, but add in the fact that Casa Malaparte is perched precariously 32 meters above sea level on a drastic cliff, and you have one spectacular home.
The only way to access Casa Malaparte is by foot walking down from the town of Capri, OR, by boat and ascending a staircase that was cut into the cliff side.
The private residence was so striking that it caught the eye of French director Jean-Luc Godard. He loved the house and the scenery so much that he decided to shoot the pivotal scenes of his 1963 film Le Mépris here.
Who starred in this sexy French film?
None other than the seductive French bombshell Brigitte Bardot.
The film depicted a couple’s tempestuous relationship of conflict, estrangement, and reconciliation.
There was even somewhat of a love triangle…
Okay……. one more:
The filming took place when Casa Malaparte was empty and falling into disrepair – it became a foreboding character in its own right.
After the death of Curzio Malaparte in 1957, Casa Malaparte was all but abandoned. It languished in the harsh seaside elements for decades and was extensively damaged by vandals and looters.
Renovations began in the late 1980’s under the guidance of Malaparte’s great-nephew, Niccolò Rositani. The house has been restored to a livable state and many of the original elements were either rehabilitated or replaced with replicas.
Below is an old photo of the minimalistic great room:
And this is what the room looks like today:
The unique original tiles of the hallways and bedroom were restored as well….
Today the house is used for Italian cultural events and for architectural study. It is said to be one of the finest examples of Italian modern and minimalist architecture.
The walk to reach Casa Malaparte is a 20 minute hike over rough terrain, but the views are worth the effort.
The steep stairs from the boat landing number in at 99 – so it would be just as much of a workout going that route as well.
The brilliant “Pompeii red” exterior paint has also been reinstated…
On film and in real life, Casa Malaparte has thrilled and intrigued.
The thought of a moody writer living alone out there in his house on the cliffs, is inherently romantic. The thought of traversing those treacherous cliffs to get to the house, is utterly terrifying!