When on one of his trips to Havana, Ernest Hemingway decided he needed a quiet place where he could write, he rented Finca la Vigía (an early 20th-century estate on a hill in San Francisco de Paula) in 1939, and one year later bought the house and property. He lived here until 1960, when traveled to Spain to later move back to the United States.
The place was transformed into a museum on July 21, 1962. The villa has a surface area of nearly 4 hectares, with plenty of tropical plant and animal life that make the place a small reserve. The house has remained unchanged and shows “Papa’s” many interests: bullfighting posters, fishing gear, hunting weapons, liquor bottles, hundreds of books and magazines, a typewriter, the “cat house,” and many others, which have been perpetuated in masterpieces such as The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream. There’s also the pool where Hemingway used to swim half a mile every day after work. Curiously enough, the bathroom has a well-stocked bookcase and the wall where Hemingway used to keep track of his body weight. The library features large bookcases with over 1,000 books, including works of Mark Twain, Honoré de Balzac, Benito Pérez Galdós and other classics. There’s also his work room, where he usually spent his mornings typing on his old typewriter or making notes with a pencil.
There’s only one reason to visit the mundane if tranquil Havana suburb of San Francisco de Paula – the Museo Hemingway. In 1939 US novelist Ernest Hemingway rented a villa called Finca la Vigía on a hill at San Francisco de Paula, 15km southeast of central Havana. A year later he bought the house (1888) and property and lived there continuously until 1960, when he moved back to the US . The villa’s interior has remained unchanged since the day Hemingway left (there are lots of stuffed trophies), and the wooded estate is now a museum. Hemingway left his house and its contents to the ‘Cuban people,’ and his house has been the stimulus for some rare shows of US -Cuban cooperation. In 2002 Cuba agreed to a US -funded project to digitalize the documents stored in the basement of Finca la Vigía, and in May 2006 Cuba sent 11,000 of Hemingway’s private documents to the JFK Presidential Library in America for digitalization. This literary treasure trove (including a previously unseen epilogue for For Whom the Bell Tolls) was finally made available online in January 2009. To prevent the pilfering of objects, visitors are not allowed inside the house, but there are enough open doors and windows to allow a proper glimpse into Papa’s universe. There are books everywhere (including beside the toilet), a large Victrola and record collection, and an astounding number of knickknacks. Don’t come when it’s raining as the house itself will be closed. A stroll through the garden is worthwhile to see the surprisingly sentimental dog cemetery, Hemingway’s fishing boat El Pilar and the pool where actress Ava Gardner once swam naked. You can chill out on a chaise lounge below whispering palms and bamboo here.
Admission details: CUC 3; CUC 4 incl. guide. Camera: CUC 5. Video Camera: CUC 25
Opening hours: 9:30am-3:15pm Wed-Sun Jan-Jun and Sep-Dec 9:30am-4:15pm Jul-Aug. Closed on rainy days