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Guided tours
Virtual guided tour

Phoenician Steps

Villa San Michele

Villa San Michele
The Museum
The Collection
Luisa Casati Stampa

Axel Munthe

The Royal Connection
The Story of San Michele
Historic Photo Album
Axel Munthe Today
Munthe’s BBC Program

The Garden

The Garden
The Gardener
Rare Plants
Prizes and Mentions
Barbarossa the Castle

The Foundation

The Foundation
The Board


Café & Events

Billy's Bar
Private Events at Villa San Michele
The Museum Shop

Cultural events

Cultural events
Collaborations and links


Barbarossa the Castle

1899–1904 was the period during which Axel Munthe bought the mountainside which overlooks Villa San Michele. Like an eagle’s nest, perched at the top is the thousand-year-old castle called Castello Barbarossa.
The reason for the purchase was that Munthe wanted to prohibit the netting and trapping of wild birds – an important and lucrative business on Capri at the time.
Quails, turtle doves and small birds were highly prized delicacies in gourmet restaurants in places such as Paris and Rome. The birds were caught in nets or traps and were sold alive to be subsequently prepared and eaten.
Axel Munthe donated Villa San Michele to the Swedish state in 1949. Ten years later an ornithological station was established within the precincts of the castle. It is strategically placed, roughly at midpoint between the migrant bird winter quarters in tropical Africa and their nesting areas in Sweden and round the shores of the Baltic Sea.
Today, the station is run by the Ornithological Ringing Centre in Bologna and it is one of the largest in a network of stations on various Italian islands in the Mediterranean (Progetto Piccole Isole). Every year, the activities are led by Dario Piacentini. Ottenby, the ornithological station on Öland, Sweden, cooperates with this project, nowadays with specific contributions to shed light on various research questions.
One project concerns the subalpine warbler, another one the birds’ ticks and the diseases these might carry. Others study the extensive movements of butterflies above and around the Medierranean.