This 'dream-laden and spooked' (Marina Warner, London Review of Books) story is to many one of the best-loved books of the twentieth century.
Munthe spent many years working as a doctor in Southern Italy, labouring unstintingly during typhus, cholera and earthquake disasters.
It was during this period that he came across the ruined Tiberian villa of San Michele, perched high above the glittering Bay of Naples on Capri.
With the help of Mastro Nicola and his three sons, and with only a charcoal sketch roughly drawn on a garden wall to guide them, Munthe devoted himself to rebuilding the house and chapel.
Over five long summers they toiled under a sapphire-blue sky, their mad-cap project leading them to buried skeletons and ancient coins, and to hilarious encounters with a rich cast of vividly-drawn villagers. "The Story of San Michele" reverberates with the mesmerising hum of a long, hot Italian summer.
Peopled with unforgettable characters, it is as brilliantly enjoyable and readable today as it was upon first publication.The book quickly became an international bestseller and has now been translated into more than 30 languages; it is today an established classic, and sales number in the millions.