Josef Oliv, who was appointed as Villa San Michele’s first Director, saw his primary task as improving the property so that it could be the self-supporting institution that was the condition for acceptance of the donation.
His memoir “Vägen till San Michele” (1972) is filled with lively descriptions of his industrious work to rebuild the villa as a museum and to promote tourism. Oliv, who was a practical man, was not adverse to doing much of the repair work himself. The mythologizing of the villa in Axel Munthe’s bestseller “The Story of San Michele” was strengthened through anecdotes that would facilitate lively and interesting guided tours.
Regarding cultural exchanges, Oliv emphasized the traditional celebration of national festivals, both Swedish and Italian, in which the local population and Swedes took part. Something as exotic as a Swedish birch in the garden bears witness to these ambitions for cultural exchange.
Oliv’s successors Eric and Kristina Berggren were both archeologists, with a great interest in music. They moved into the renovated Director’s residence with their four children.
During the Berggren’s period the concert activities were expanded to regular advertised events in the San Michele chapel, which later took on more of an international emphasis.
Activities for children and young people included dance and rhythm classes on the lawn. The expanded concert activities contributed as well to creating an interest in the villa among the local population.
The stream of tourists, which increased noticeably during the 1970’s, created a need to protect the sensitive garden and the villa from wear. The crowds were led through the villa and the garden along a marked route and the paths were built with durable materials.
The Berggrens’ successor, Levente A.S. Erdeös, an architect, and his wife, Maria Luigia Erdeös, combined experience in restoration with practical management of the programme for guests. Villa San Michele was then in great need of restoration and steps were taken to protect the furniture and art from damage and destruction.
The relationship to the local authority has always been a delicate question. During Munthe’s time most of the revenue from the museum was used to help the poor in Anacapri, but when the museum became the only source of income for the foundation, that was no longer possible.
However, in the late 1970’s efforts were made to strengthen and improve relations with Anacapri with the donation of the San Michele Foundation’s property Villa Rosa as a gift. At the same time a scholarship was created to make it possible for young people from Capri to study in Sweden.