One of my all time favorite authors is Ernest Hemingway, so it was a special treat to visit Finca Vigia, his retreat in Cuba. Located outside Havana, Hemingway purchased the property in 1940 and lived there for the next 20 years, staying longer than many Americans when relations between the U.S. and Cuba began deteriorating.
The house only could be viewed through large open windows, and the first thing that struck me was how many books were there. I overheard a guide say there were 7,000 volumes on the shelves.
I so wished to be close enough to read the titles in order to see what authors or subjects interested him.
As I looked through the window into his study, I imagined Hemingway sitting at his desk surrounded by favorite things and writing The Old Man and the Sea. His Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner was influenced by the local fishermen with whom he became friends. How I would have loved to hear the stories and fishing adventures they shared!
In every room were trophies from his hunting excursions,
and on the bathroom wall over the scale he scrawled his weight. Such personal touches made Hemingway seem so real, and my mind was reeling as I recalled snippets of his life and from his books.
Look closely on the shelf and you will see a rather large lizard preserved as a testament to the bravery of one of his cats of which there were said to be many. The lizard was a little creepy, but Hemingway obviously had no aversion to being in the company of formerly living creatures.
You may remember Hemingway was friends with Picasso and the white piece barely seen clearly here is the artist’s interpretation of a bull’s head, perhaps similar to the one hanging next to the disc.
Every room was open and airy, giving space to a man known to live life to the fullest. It is said that Ernest Hemingway was well liked in Cuba and to this day there is a marlin fishing tournament in his honor.
Finca Vigia is one of several places Hemingway spent time that I have visited, and this was my favorite because so much of him seemed to be there. While I didn’t breathe his air, it was a treat to walk in his space.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind
18 thoughts on “Hemingway in Cuba”
Books seem to be every where. I am also wondering to know what titles are.
Wow…how fortunate you were to be able to see this remarkable home and I am sure all the while you were trying to get a sense of his presence in the room…what a great place that more of the world should see…so glad you got to experience this and share this all with us!
I really enjoyed the tour! It’s so interesting and it’s hard to believe you were not in the actual room! Thanks for sharing!
What an experience to see this. What strikes me is that this house and the furnishings look like it was just decorated recently. I could live with the furnishings he had in the house all those years ago. Well, maybe not the lizard, but everything else, and I’d have plenty of reading material to keep me occupied. I agree. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see what books he read. Great post. laurie
Thanks, Laurie, as you can tell I loved visiting this place. Though no one commented on it, I think the house must have had some recent touchup as it was in very good condition.
How lucky you are to visit! I attended a lecture a few years ago by an architect on the team to restore this home of Hemingway’s and the challenges involved. I long to visit Cuba!!! I’m intrigued by Hemingway, what a complicated man he was, but a product of his time as well. I lived in Paris a few years ago and read as much as I could about his life there, where there are Hemingway “walks” everywhere. Thanks for sharing, maybe someday. . . .
I would have liked to hear the lecture as I heard nothing about restoration. Like you, I’m intrigued by Hemingway, his life and loves. Thank you so much for your visit.
It’s like someone walked in there just last week and did all the design work! What a great look that still looks terrific today!!! I see the Ernest Hemingway furniture collection at Nebraska Furniture Mart all the time, and after looking at these photos just marvel at how well they have captured the look.
No kidding he had a lot of hunting souvenirs! Yikes! I think I’d have to draw the line at the petrified lizard, though!
I love all the transom windows and doors!!! What a beautiful space! I’m glad you got to put your feet on the same soil as this great novelist!
How FASCINATING! I’ve been to his residence in Key West, but have never been to Cuba, though have wanted to go ever since reading Cuba Diaries by Isadora Tattlin. Thanks for the lovely, virtual visit.
Interesting home…books, animal heads and wonderful architecture. Thanks for sharing, Linda.
A bookshelf in the bathroom! Incredible. Thanks for the sneak peek into one of my favorites as well 🙂
that must have been a treat to walk in his space, and like you I wonder what books are on the shelves?! the nearest I got was visiting his favourite bar in havana 🙂
Wow…so dreamy. Love these rooms.
Thank you so much for the grand tour of Hemingway’s space! Beautiful captures of the house.
fascinating, I would never have guessed you weren’t inside the rooms. How odd that they let you look in the windows but not go in? It was easy to picture Hemingway there through your words~
I was amazed at his home and my first thought was the Cubans should charge admission. His home on Key West allows tours. I chose to tour James Audubon’s house over his due to time restraints. I heard live cats were everywhere. That would have been between 1994-1997 time frame.
We just viewed the movie, “Midnight in Paris” written by Woody Allen again recently. Hemingway is prominent in the film and made me want to read more about him. Your post also piques my interest.
Your photos were great to be made through windows.
Hemingway did love his books, his animal trophies, and his cats as evidenced by his home in Key West, as well.
What an amazing place to visit! Thanks for sharing those photos. There’s nothing like visiting the homes of our favourite authors to really bring them to life. I am longing to make a trip to Jane Austen’s cottage.