From royals like Prince Rainier of Monaco or Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria, to celebrities past and present such as Charles Chaplin or Leonardo Di Caprio. All of them fell in love with Mallorca in their day, leaving a little piece of their soul behind them on the island for all eternity.
In his autobiography Goodbye to All That, one of the most renowned works by Robert Graves, the writer broke off definitively with the social and moral values he had once identified with. “It was my bitter leave-taking of England”, he wrote. During that troubled time, his friend Gertrude Stein, an American writer, recommended he visit Mallorca, advising him to do so with a curious turn of phrase: “Mallorca is paradise... if you can stand it”.
Graves accepted the challenge, and when he discovered Deià, that tiny village of stone houses in the Sierra de Tramuntana, he felt he had found his place in the world.
He lived in Deià with his family for over 40 years, in his house Ca’n Alluny, now a museum and highly recommended as a place to visit. Since his demise in 1985, he has rested in the village’s beautiful graveyard.
It was precisely in the home of Robert Graves that Jorge Luis Borges stayed on several occasions. The Argentine writer was one of the great literary figures of the different youth circles of Palma in the early 20th century, groups that met up in coffee bars like the Café dels Artistes.
According to his wife, Maria Kodama, “Borges always remembered Mallorca as a paradise”.
“Everything a painter or poet could ever dream of has been created by nature in this place. It is the most beautiful place in the world”. This was how the composer and pianist Frederic Chopin described Valldemossa. Chopin and his lover, the writer George Sand, spent the winter of 1838-1839 on the island, after travelling here on doctors’ recommendations to take care of the famous Polish musician’s delicate health. He suffered from tuberculosis.
Without doubt living in the isolated Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa, next to a monks’ graveyard, stimulated Chopin’s romantic imagination, and it was in Valldemossa that he composed some of his best-known Preludes.
A honeymoon is one of the happiest times for any couple. And Grace Kelly and Rainier of Monaco chose to enjoy those unforgettable two weeks on the island. They stayed at the Hotel Formentor and during the day, they did what they loved most, sail around the coast of Mallorca. Their love of the island led them to return on several occasions, including for the inauguration of the Hotel Son Vida.
Another illustrious figure who stayed at the Hotel Formentor was Charles Chaplin. When he arrived, a crowd of curious onlookers jostled to see the greatest comedian in the history of cinema up close. Chaplin came here with his wife, six children and two governesses. And he too returned to Mallorca several times.
Few people know that the Archduke Ludwig Salvator made his very first trip to Mallorca incognito, under the pseudonym of ‘Count Neudorf’. Initially he intended to write a book on beetles. But he was so enamoured of Mallorca’s beauty that he decided to stay and live on the island for long periods of time.
The Archduke first purchased the Miramar estate, and later other possesions (rural properties) betweeen Valldemossa and Deià. He had one of them, S’Estaca – now owned by the actor Michael Douglas – built as a love nest for himself and Catalina Homar, the peasant woman he fell for who was the love of his life.
The famous actor Errol Flynn was sailing to Gibraltar with his third wife, Patrice Wymore, when a storm forced him to put in at Pollensa, in the north of the island. That first dawn on the island was enough to make him fall in love with Mallorca forever.
He was so entranced with the island that he recommended it to other American showbiz stars. Those lavish parties of the 1950s, featuring figures like Ava Gardener, Orson Welles or John Wayne, came to be known as “The Summer Hollywood”.
As a child Richard Branson, now the owner of Virgin, summered in villages like Deià, Valldemossa, Esporles and Banyalbufar, places that captivated him with their beauty. Today Branson hopes to create “the most luxurious hotel in the Mediterranean” at Son Bunyola, an estate between Esporles and Banyalbufar.
The yacht Blue One belonging to Italian fashion designer Valentino, berthed at Puerto Portals, has fêted great figures of art and culture. And the very same Puerto Portals is where the star of Titanic or The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo di Caprio, has been sighted some summers.
Singers like the popular Annie Lennox, or German tennis player Boris Becker have even managed to own a home on the island without drawing too much attention to themselves. They aim to be inconspicuous, living here like any other resident.
We like to close our eyes and imagine people who love creation and beauty, like Robert Graves, Borges, Archduke Ludwig Salvator, Errol Flynn and his Hollywood chums entering Rialto Living one day, and discovering our fashion, furniture, gifts, artworks, rugs, fragances and books. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?...
Of all the beautiful streets and squares in Palma, Paseo del…
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From royals like Prince Rainier of Monaco or Archduke Ludwig…
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