Six of seven days a week, the gates of Finca Vigia swing open for, on average, some 1,000 eager visitors to Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban home. Located some 25 minutes outside of Havana, the sprawling estate was bought in 1940 and has played host to many famous faces, both before and after Hemingway’s death in 1961.
The iconic home is held in high regard across the island and contains the majority of the writer’s personal items including furniture, clothing, art, photos, letters, trophy heads and an amazing collection of books.
On Tuesday, museum director Ada Rosa Alfonso Rosales explained the home’s rich history. A Spaniard, whose name I shall not attempt to spell, built the first part of the house in 1887 to which Hemingway later added and made improvements after his purchase in December of 1940.
The writer lived and worked there until his departure in July of 1960. Following his death, fourth wife Mary Welsh showed up to claim, among other things, paintings by Picasso and other soon-to-be priceless items. But during her second run at liquidation, Welsh was stopped by the Cuban government, which had taken control of the property. It was their intention to keep the home as it was when he left more than 50 years ago and that is precisely what has been done.
A sense of rich history lives on today as children across Havana are encouraged to learn about their famous American neighbor. For the 23rd year, Rosales and crew are diplaying the work of local primary school students who have created art celebrating the writer. The students’ work can be seen inside the writer’s former garage, now the guide’s office, just to the right of Hemingway’s front porch.