Monte Verita The mountain of life reformers.

The desire for change that motivates these “Life Reformers.”

The utopian Monte Verità..

The founding group, composed of Henri Oedenkoven, Karl Gräser, Gustav Gräser, Ida Hofmann, Jenny Hofmann, Lotte Hattemer and Ferdinand Brune, intended to create in 1899 an alternative society, a “colony” in break with the values of patriarchy and consumption. The purpose of these pioneers? Escape the rigid values of the bourgeoisie and create a self-subsisting community, inspired by the phalansteries of the philosopher Charles Fourier. This colony above Ascona, Ticino, became the testing ground for Lebensreform, a movement born in Germany in the mid-19th century that advocated a return to nature.

As Europe rushes into war, young intellectuals on the shores of Lake Maggiore break free from the constraints of civilization. Anarchists, socialists, vegetarians, artists, writers and dancers are experimenting with new ways of life at Monte Verita near Ascona. Writers Nietzsche and Hermann Hesse, choreographer Isadora Duncan, philosopher Max Weber, painters Paul Klee and Jean Arp, among others, came to the event, driven by the same ideal of freedom of mind and body.

Rudolf von Laban’s troupe of dancers offers itself to nature in a revolutionary nudity to renew society from within. This early color photograph (originally a glass slide) anticipates a future technique and reflects intensively, through the freshness of its colors, the desire for change that motivates these “life reformers”.  

The First World War, however, marked the end of this libertarian utopia and the hill of Monte Verità was bought in 1926 by Eduard von der Heydt, a German banker who had the architect Emil Fahrenkamp build a superb hotel in the Bauhaus style.

Monte Verità en 1905
Monte Verità Gesamtansicht v.l.n.r.  Casa Andrea, Casa Gentile,  Haupthaus und Casa Anatta (1905).
Monte Vrita maison centrale
Zentralhaus von Henri Oedenkoven erbaut.
Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan
Mary Wigmann, 1914
Mary Wigmann, 1914
Mary Wigmann, 1914 Hexentanz »
Mary Wigmann, 1914
« Hexentanz » .
Rudolf von Laban
Rudolf von Laban
Rudolf von Laban
Rudolf von Laban « Der Mönch »
un colon naturiste.
a naturist colonist.
l’adoration au soleil.
worship with the sun.
Das Sonnenbad der Vegetarier, 1906.
Das Sonnenbad der Vegetarier, 1906.
Kraft durch Freude unter Leitung von Masseur Maurer, um 1930.
Kraft durch Freude unter Leitung von Masseur Maurer, um 1930.
Eric MÜHSAM (1878-1934)
Eric MÜHSAM (1878-1934)
Hermann HESSE ( au centre ) à Monte Verità en 1907.
Otto GROSS Psychoanalyst. (1877 – 1920 )
Otto GROSS Psychoanalyst. (1877 – 1920 )

Gusto Graeser avec un écureuil et un jeune ami
Gusto Graeser with a squirrel and a young friend.

History and Geography

Monte Verità, a historical site: 

In the nineteenth century, Europe was shaken by the arrival of industrialization, which disrupted social organization. This crisis was particularly felt in Germany, where signs of rejection of the industrial world appeared as early as 1870. Thus, in response to the urbanization engendered by a new organization of work, Naturism appeared. We try to escape the pollution of cities, create communities and “garden cities” to live in harmony with nature. Those who share this view soon gather around the Life Reform movement (Lebensreform, 1892). In contrast to the Reformation called by the Rosicrucians of the seventeenth century and in the literary utopias that followed it, scientific progress was perceived as a threat in the nineteenth century. The Life Reform movement draws followers of vegetarianism, naturism, spiritualism, natural medicine, hygienism, the Theosophical Society, as well as artists.

In 1889, a Swiss theosopher, Alfredo Pioda, attempted to establish a secular convent. The group took the name of Fraternitas and settled on Mount Verità, near Ascona (Ticino, Switzerland). Frantz Hartmann and Countess Wachtmeister, relatives of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, are involved in this short-lived project. It is this experience that will no doubt inspire Frantz Hartmann “A Rosicrucian Institution in Switzerland”, the chapter that he will add to successive editions of his original novel An Adventure with the Rose-Croix. From the ashes of Fraternitas, Henri Oedenkoven and Ida Hofmann, in 1900 Monte Verità was born, a community of the same type. Many people will attend Monte Verità, such as the writer Herman Hesse, the future philosopher Martin Buber, the politician Gustav Landauer, Émile Jacques-Dalcroze, the inventor of rhythmic gymnastics, or Rudolf von Laban, the choreographer and dance theorist. 

Monte Verità is a beautiful natural site overlooking Lake Maggiore from the top of a hill in Ascona, Switzerland.  Monte Verità received its name at the beginning of the century when the hill was inhabited for the first time by a small community of people looking for an alternative, new and healthier way of life: vegetarians lived there in close contact with nature, exposed their naked bodies to the sun, built their huts and houses with their own hands while dreaming of a more peaceful future.  The community, its discussion evenings, concerts and performances, soon became a curiosity not only for the people of Ascona but also for travelers from all over Europe who began to visit this unusual place.  The community broke up before the First World War, but something of the spirit of the place remained in addition to the remains of that time collected by Harald Szeeman for the Monte Verità Museum; photographs, paintings, books, posters, letters, objects bear witness to the passage in this place in addition to the founders of the community, people like Otto Gross, Rudolf Steiner, Krishnamurti, Isadora Duncan, Hermann Hesse.  This fascinating collection also includes documents that analyze the particular telluric magnetism of this region (!): a way of trying to understand why so many great minds ended up here and were inspired here. 

view of the lake from the terrace of the current reception center.

view of the lake from the terrace of the current reception center.


Monte Verità is a magnificent natural site which dominates the major lake from the top of a hill in Ascona, Switzerland. Monte Verità received its name at the beginning of the century when the hill was inhabited for the first time by a small community of people in search of an alternative, new and healthier lifestyle: vegetarians lived in close contact with the Nature, exposed their naked bodies to the sun, built their huts and houses with their own hands while dreaming of a more peaceful future. The community, its discussion evenings, its concerts and its performances, soon became curiosity not only for the people of Ascona but also for travelers from all over Europe who began to visit this unusual place. The community broke out before the First World War but something of the spirit of the place remained in addition to the vestiges of this time collected by Harald Szeeman for the Monte Verità museum; Photographs, paintings, books, posters, letters, objects testify to the passage in this place in addition to the founders of the community, people like Otto Gross, Rudolf Steiner, Krishnamurti, Isadora Duncan, Hermann Hesse. In this fascinating collection there are also documents that analyze the particular telluric magnetism of this region (!): A way of wanting to understand why so many great minds have been found here and were inspired here.

Literary excerpts published on April 2, 2018

from Monte Verità to Notre Dame des Landes via the east of Hermann Hesse —by Rémi Marie

Some call it a “realized utopia.” Others, a commune. A magical place, surely, near Ascona, Switzerland, on the border with Italy. There were all kinds of migratory birds. From the beginning of the century to the end of the first war. Artists, dancers, writers, editors, revolutionaries, anarchists, ecologists, naturists and… occultists. It is said that the Berlin Dada movement, the Bauhaus or Expressionism were invented there. And a lot of Hermann Hesse’s work. We’re talking.But first, a little panoramic. Even before Monte Verità was invented, strange cocos hang around here. Cocos, in every sense of the word. After the failure of the first Commune of Lyon in 1870, Bakunin moved to Locarno, then to Lugano. In 1871 Nietszche completed in Ascona “The birth of tragedy”. Off Ascona, on the lake, are the Brissago Islands. In 1885, a coastal boat dropped off the ‘Lady of the Lake’. Antoinette de Saint-Léger, mysterious woman, possibly Russian, wife of an Irish baron with a long name. They transform the islands at great expense (purchase of the baron) into a riviera for artists and intellectuals. Lots of beautiful people (including James Joyce, Rainer Maria Rilke, etc.) In 89, on the hill (it is still called Monescia hill) Franz Hartmann, theosophe, and his friend Alfredo Pioda set up their fraternity. Quesako? A secular convent (sic) open to all “without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color”. Hartmann is a theosopher, geomancer, astrologer, biographer of Jakob Böhme and Paracelsus, translator of the Bhagavad Gita, founder of the Theosophical Society for Germany, and one of the founders of the Ordo Templi Orientis, with Carl Kellner and Theodor ReussThe hill was bought in 1901 by Henri Oedenkoven. His Antwerp dad’s loaded. The diamond-stitched ass. He and his companion, pianist Ida Hofmann, feminist Ida Hofmann, arrive (or rather climb the hill) with a joyful band. Fleeing big cities. Dream of another life. She, Ida, baptizes the hill. Go up Verità! Forward! It must be said that Ticino is… far south of the north. A dream country, forests, lakes, mild climate. With them are the brothers Gustav and Karl Gräser of Transylvania. Gustav Arthur Gräser, said Gusto deserves it. As a young man he lived in the commune of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, near Vienna. Artist, pacifist, naturist, Diefenbach advocates life in harmony with nature, vegetarian food, rejection of all religion and monogamy. Gusto, disgusted by Diefenbach’s authoritarianism, fled in 1898, a year before the end of the commune. With his brother, he participated in the founding of Monte Verità in 1901, leaving in 1911 for the suburbs of Berlin where he continued his form of philosophical activism.

Gusto-Gargantua, Berlin

Gusto-Gargantua, Berlin

Activism that will soon be considered political… by politicians. After being expelled from Berlin, he returned to Austria, where things were downright bad. In 1915 he was sentenced to death as a conscientious objector. Finally declared insane, he is interned. Released, he continued his anti-war campaign. In 1919 he embarked on a ‘crusade of love’ with another guy who was about as frazzled as he was (in a rather positive sense), Friedrich Muck-Lamberty. [On Muck-Lamberty we find: In May 1920, under the direction of Muck-Lamberty, a group of young people from the city of Hartenstein undertook an expedition through Franconia and Thuringia. First objective, the Pentecost gathering of migratory birds in Upper Franconia. There, Muck calls for the foundation of the Neuen Schar, the New Group. Then they continue the journey to Cobourg, Sonneberg, Saalfeld, Rudolstadt, Jena, Weimar, Erfurt and Gotha via Eisenach and Wartburg. According to Muck, the purpose of the expedition is to bring together the youth community against all that is common (sic) and against exploitation.”] What I am particularly interested in is that it is said that this “crusade of love” is the subject of Hesse’s book, The Journey in the East. I don’t think so. (But we’ll take a closer look.) After the crusade, Gusto continued his anti-war lectures. He moved to the town of Grunhurst (maybe to Berlin, but I can’t find any info). In 1933, when the NAZI party came to power, the commune was destroyed and many of its inhabitants (including members of its family) were killed or deported. Gusto takes refuge in the attic of a poet friend in Munich. He did not go out and wrote his most recognized plays (sic) like Siebenmah and Wunderbar. (On which I can’t find any info either!). He spent the last years of his life in Munich, modern Diogenes, except (or in this) that he frequented the library… and wrote.]

Gusto-Diogenes, in Munich after the Second World War

Gusto-Diogenes, in Munich after the Second World War

At the moment we are in Monte Verità. Narrated by Harald Szeeman who immersed himself in archives for 6 years. (Who would have even stayed on the hill?)

The ‘truth mountaineers’ are inspired by Lebensreform (the reform of life), of which Diefenbach is one of the prophets. Another is Adolf Just, and his Return to Nature, 1895, in German, Kehrt zur Natur zurück! Die wahre naturgemäße Heil- und Lebensweise. Wasser, Licht, Luft, Erde, Früchte und wirkliches Christentum. Return to nature. The true/true way of living and healing. Water, light, air, earth, fruits and true Christianity. (That is? Follow the example of Christ?)

First reform of clothing. Naturism or loose and simple clothes, some sort of gowns. Second reform, food, vegetarian. And then the house, spartan, bright. Body, exercise, bathing and dancing, naked.

Social organization, cooperative. And then the emancipation (sic) of women. Unity. The refusal of separation. Szeeman speaks of a “Christian-Communist community.” In that order. A communist community?

Still Szeeman: There is an intensity (sic) on the hill. This intensity… well it radiates in Europe and beyond. It attracts new ‘believers’, new fervors. Monte Verità becomes a sanatorium. Frequented by a strange fauna. They are called (in retrospect, obviously) the first hippies. They are theosophists (of the theosophical society this time), anarchists, communists, artists, psychoanalysts, writers, etc. Among them, Raphael Friedeberg (socialist physicist who becomes anarchist). Pierre Kropotkin (prince, anarchist, close to Bakunin). Erich Mühsam (anarchist writer). Otto Gross (psychoanalyst close to Mühsam). August Bebel (German artisan, who will become a socialist and feminist politician). Maybe even Lenin and Trotzky. Among them are Hermann Hesse, Franziska Gräfin zu Reventlow (Bohemian Countess of Schwabbing, Munich), Else Lasker-Schüler (poet and draftsman). Among them were D.H Lawrence, Rudolf von Laban (choreographer and inventor of notation – later he worked for Goebbels, until 1937), Mary Wigman (Laban’s pupil and later choreographer). Among them: Isadora Duncan, Hugo Ball (founder of Dada in Zurich), Hans Arp, Hans Richter (Dada painter), Arthur Segal (also Dada painter), El Lissitzky, etc. (And in his list Szeeman forgets representatives of theosophy and other occultists.)

Szeeman writes (in 1985) that, although transformed into a hotel and park, the mountain preserves its magical power of attraction (emphasis added). Related to the site’s proven magnetic anomalies (sic) and microclimate. But also to the memory of the place. (Szeeman refers to the attempts to bridge the gap between ‘I’ and ‘We’.) Not to mention all the architectural attempts. From the simple hut to the prefigurations of the Bauhaus.

Reading Szeeman I come across Hermann Hesse. The story is told like this: In 1906, while on holiday in a nearby village with his first female art photographer and musician pregnant with their second child, Hesse saw Naturmenschen (natural men? naturists? naked men?) that he followed to Monte Verità. One of these natural men is Gusto Gräser.

Thomas Mann in Hesse, circa 1943 (about Glass Beads): “people will not dare laugh, and you will be secretly annoyed at their respect for a serious mortal.” It is true that Hesse is very much in “spirituality” (we will try to sharpen the term). And his readers take him (himself) very seriously. This spirituality brings him to despair (and vice versa). Mind dissociated from body, matter and things. (Dissociation in the center of the Wolf of the steppes.) Pure spirit, looking for an upward way. A kingdom of the spirit. Not found (not for lack of trying), the exit up.

End of document

Living with love and fresh water?

Among the founding fathers of Monte Verità, the most famous is a prophet-wanderer who lived in a free couple with a woman of great beauty, surrounded by eight half-naked children. The inspiration for Hermann Hesse’s novel “Demian”: it would be him.

Tall, blond, athletic, with his druid beard and long hair, Gustav Gräser (1879-1958) was the attraction. When he went through the villages, people kneeled down, taking him for Christ. Others insulted him: a homeless person. He smiled at everyone with the same good smile. Gustav Gräser was a pacifist who dreamed of a world free from the grip of money and therefore evil. “Born in Kronstadt (renamed Stalin in 1950, then Brasov in 1960), that is to say in one of the seven […] fortified cities of Transylvania built in the thirteenth century by the Teutonic knights, Gustav Arthur Gräser certainly had a Teutonic knight’s appearance, but strictly nothing of martial or militarist in the depths of his soul. Quite the contrary. His opposition to any form of violence, which he professed throughout his long life, sometimes at the cost of serious clashes with the authorities – including at least two stays in prison and even a death sentence, in 1915, narrowly inflected by the arrival of his wife accompanied by one of his five-year-old daughters – earned him the epithet of “Western Gandhi”.

Gustav Gräser. Photo of the Monte Verita Museum - Ascona, Switzerland.

Gustav Gräser. Photo of the Monte Verita Museum – Ascona, Switzerland.

Libertarian colony

For researcher Wolfgang Wackernagel – who makes him a beautiful portrait – Gräser was a mystic. Indeed, he seemed to live only in search of peace. He was one of the founders of Monte Verità. In 1900, accompanied by his brother Karl, he aimed to return to the state of nature, ohne zwang (without constraint), that is, without wealth or possessions, without contract or jealousy. When Henri Oedenkoven bought the land on which the pioneers inaugurated their new life project (1), the Gräser brothers wanted to avoid any contact with money. They dream of barter and stick to the ideal of a “common love”. But Henry who built the bungalows had to pay the carpenters. You also have to pay for running water and electricity… In 1901, the schism becomes inevitable: When Henry and his companion, Ida, turned Monte Verità into a sanatorium, the two brothers moved elsewhere. Karl bought a plot nearby and built his wooden cabin, his furniture using branches. He lives in this shelter in unmarried union with Jenny Hoffmann (Ida’s sister) who gets pregnant several times but remains without children, after one several stillbirths. Is it because of the harsh conditions that Jenny has to share with her companion?

Living with poetry and fresh water

This is the paradox of this idealism: at the beginning of the 20th century, revolutionaries paid little attention to gender equality. In the name of a “freedom” that often boils down to the refusal to marry their partner or to assume their paternity, they impose on their partners the reproved status of daughters-mothers, a life of poverty and an unequal division of labor: it is up to them to raise children. Karl leaves her companion, Jenny, to take care of the housework. The couple feeds on raw fruit and heats up with a candle (sometimes Jenny takes refuge in her sister Ida to enjoy the heat of the stove).

An Anachoret Life

While Karl settles down as a couple, Gustav continues his travels: first he went back to Kronstadt, but it was a bad idea because he was enlisted. He refused to do his military service and ended up in prison. “After five months of imprisonment, where he writes verses” – as the historian Kaj Noschis summarizes in a fascinating book on Monte Verità – he returns to Ascona and is offered a piece which he renounces: “He doesn’t want it. Not owning anything and not working either, just living quietly.” He is sometimes seen working at his brother’s house (he is involved in the construction and maintenance of the house), sometimes in cabins he occupies without asking permission, or in a cave, sleeping on the floor near a wood fire

“To those who asked for his name, Gustav Gräser replied … “Gusto – because I like life”, and he offered them a blade of grass as a business card, his last name coming from Gras, the “grass” in German.” Kaj Noschis tells how Gräser lives off pilferage and charity. He offers anyone small dances or poems. He also utters words of wisdom, but with such disarming simplicity that most of his interlocutors are taken aback.

As Hermann Müller, his archivist, the creator of a site in his name, explains, “Gräser is a poet and mystical thinker, strongly influenced by Lao Tzu, whose Tao Te King he translates into German. His way of life corresponds to that of the first Christian apostles, the Indian wandering saints and the Chinese masters of wisdom.”

Elisabeth, the solar widow

In 1908, he met Elisabeth Dörr (1876-1953), a mother of five who found herself on the street. She is the widow of a doctor who disappeared in a mountain accident. Since the body was not found, she cannot inherit from her husband (according to the legislation of the time). She binds to Gusto, who has three children. “The reconstituted family (ten people in total) lives on donations but suffers from continual deprivation, wandering on the roads or camping in makeshift housing.”

Alma Mater

Although this family lives in complete destitution, it makes visitors to Monte Verità fantasize. Elisabeth Dörr, in particular, arouses intense erotic reveries. Photos show her as a “Gaia goddess”, nursing a baby in public in a long white dress. Her blond, untied hair makes her the icon of Ascona. He tells all sorts of fables about this Felsenfrau (The Lady of the Rock): that she had each of her children from a different man. Hermann Hesse – who comes to live for six months in Monte Verità (a treatment for alcohol detoxification) – assiduously frequents the couple and falls in love with Elisabeth, whom he takes inspiration from to make Madame Eva in Demian, an initiatory novel that would have been strongly inspired by Gusto’s theories: “The true mission of every man is this: to reach oneself.”

The “unconstrained” as the only rule of life

From 1911, the couple never stopped being publicly involved: the preacher takes the whole family on a horse-drawn caravan, travels through Germany and goes through the turmoil of the first world war. Gusto preaches against the homeland, against patriarchy. He’s talking about nature and mother nurturing. The fact that the mother is, in fact, a homeless woman, exhausted by the hardships and damaged by eight pregnancies, does not make her deviate from her path. He has set himself a mission and nothing can deter him from it: In 1919, he finally separated from Elizabeth. Or rather, she finally touches her husband’s legacy and – taking with her her six daughters and her second son – she can finally rebuild her life. He, “extremely consistent in his refusal” (as Kaj Noschis rightly notes) continues to lecture in the country’s major cities, preaches pacifism at the risk of his life, survives the bombings of the Second World War while writing about Lao-Tseu, refuses to be mobilized, refuses to fight, refuses to take part in the “great swindle”, until his death in 1958.

I thank Hermann Müller and Reinhard Christeller, creators of the reference site sur Gusto Graeser as well as the Monte Verità Museum

Monte Verità Foundation: Collina Street 84 – 6612 Ascona. Tel: +41 91 785 40 40.

READ: Monte Verità: Ascona and the genius of the place, by Kaj Noschis, EPFL press, 2017.

“Mystique, avant-garde and marginality in the wake of Monte Verità”, by Wolfgang Wackernagel, in: Mystic: the passion of the One, from antiquity to the present day. Proceedings of the International Symposium of the Free University of Brussels, edited by Alain Dierkens and Benoît Beyer de Ryke. Published by the University of Brussels, 2005, pp. 175-18.

NOTE 1: Monte Verità’s original project was that of a cooperative and the land had been bought with the contributions of each of the members of the group… but it was Henri Oedenkoven who paid most of the money and who eventually bought the shares of the other contributors. Hermann Müller, who is the archivist of Gusto Gräser’s spiritual and material legacy, explains: Henri Oedenkoven, as the main financial contributor, unscrupulously registered the property in his name, thus abolishing the principle of cooperation. The Gräser brothers, who clung to the ideal of a modernized “Phalanstere” in the Fourier sense, then separated from Oedenkoven and Ida Hofmann and retreated into their own properties. Lotte Hattemer and Jenny Hofmann join them. After only one year, a two-part structure is created: on the one hand, the natural healing institution of Oedenkoven and Hofmann as a private enterprise, on the other hand, the sanctuary of the Gräser brothers, which is open to the persecuted and oppressed from all countries. For a better distinction, their isolation should be called “Monte Gusto”. Monte Gusto becomes a destination for freedom seekers of all kinds: conscientious objectors, homosexuals, Jews, unmarried mothers, religious and artists. Examples include writers Erich Mühsam, Hermann Hesse, Reinhard Goering, Oskar Maria Graf, Frederik van Eeden, sculptor Max Kruse, doll designer Käthe Kruse, reform educator Ellen Key, dancers Isadora Duncan and Mary Wigman.”

end of document.

Monte Verità: the naked utopia.

Sent to Monte Verità in 1905 by the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Commissioner Rusca de Locarno surprises “cultured originals, tired of a life of amusement and wealth that rediscover a simple and frugal existence. Often naked, in both summer and winter, they themselves produce food.” He also notes that “the owner of the premises is the son of a wealthy Antwerp shipowner who is used to the Grand Hotel of Locarno.” Suffering from the pain of bad languages and accused of being a den of anarchists, the colony established on the heights of Ascona on the shores of Lake Maggiore has been pursuing its utopia without much concern for the rest of the world since its arrival five years ago.

An alternative life.

The tribe landed in Ticino in the spring of 1900. Henri Oedenkoven, who provided the funds via the paternal patrimony, his wife Ida Hofman, Karl Gräser, a former officer of the Austro-Hungarian empire now refractory to order, his brother nicknamed Gusto (Taste), a supporter of a radical return to the land and two or three other disillusioned idealists, neurotic, fleeing the trouble and the Prussian bourgeoisie, bought a hectare and a half of land full south for one hundred and fifty thousand francs. There is no water, no electricity, no road. But there are plenty of palm and chestnut trees. The new life starts on new bases, macrobiotic and naturist, anthroposophic and egalitarian. The hill already enjoys an international reputation. Its extraordinary natural magnetism, equal to that of Sils Maria in the Grisons, and the transalpine tolerance towards libertarian and avant-garde ideas attract revolutionaries, writers, philosophers and all kinds of disoriented and marginalized in search of happiness and universal love.

Rugged and comfortable little bourgeois coexist in maternal fervor. We play piano and plant salads. Men and women ride naked in a grandiose landscape. Frozen showers and sunbathing firm the skin and flesh of idle city dwellers. Scam artists, peeping tellers, and journalists on the lookout for scandals and misinformation should be excluded. Most importantly, the benefits and harms of vegetarian eating are discussed. With the following rule violations: smuggling banned foods and incognito rides in local grotti..

dance with Mary Wigmann.
dance with Mary Wigmann.

The mountain of ideas.

Two doctrines clash in the shade of mimosas. One is content with a return to nature as a child, materialized in a sanatorium with regenerative virtues. The other theorizes a straddling vision of morality and communism where man forgets his pain and returns to his original destiny. The latter, too dogmatic, disperses with its instigators. Gusto, now on the fringes of the community, finds refuge in a cave. It was there that Hermann Hesse, an alcoholic and candy, met him a few years later and imagined the figure of the Great Mother Earth, wedded to the generous forms of Elisabetta, Gusto’s wife. The first worship lasts under the woods of Monte Verità. Incense and perspiration – frenetic dances in the vicinity of the trance in the moonlight – still float in the air. And Harald Szeeman, famous curator of contemporary art exhibitions, keeps the archives of the adventure, stored with the zeal of the accountant, in the shelter of his home in Val Maggia, not far from Locarno.

Female emancipation is on the agenda as well as marriages of love and conscience, freed from the patriarchal and administrative chaos that distorts its profound meaning. Homosexuality thrives away from the well-meaning. Spelling – to hell with capital letters – is being reformed, as is fashion at the time, choking muscles and roundness to excess. Once money is banned, barter becomes the rule. Sometimes a song is enough to buy a good dental treatment. So much for exploiting a few workers in the name of the spirit.

Over the course of 20 years, the colony joyfully brewed alternative ideas and practices in abundance. Europe turns to Monte Verità, curious to experience the promised excesses. Apart from the sick, real or imagined, thousands of visitors flock to the magic hill. Walter Gropius, Thoman Mann, Erich Maria Remark, Carl Gustav Jung, André Gide, Emile Jacques Dalcroze, the rhythm in a suitcase, Lenin said, stay at the expense of Ida and Henri, on the beard of a reputation of idiots who amuse the cafés of the Ascona trade.

dance at Monte Verità

dance at Monte Verità.


In 1920, the founders abandoned the premises. Debts are catching up with utopia. An artists’ co-operative is trying to rescue. We’re repairing the buildings. Tourists and comfort hunt vegetables and temperance. Now you eat and drink to your hunger, meat and grand cru. Despite efforts, bankruptcy caught up with them in 1926.

A wealthy German baron, Eduard von der Heydt, bought the property. He created an institute to the glory of Asia. The Bauhaus is a hotel combining modernity and memories. After the Second World War, von der Heydt, accused of having been in business with the Nazis, offered the Monte Verità to the canton of Ticino with works of art and bank accounts to form a cultural foundation. This has been the case since 1989, and since 1992, the Montecinemaverità association has been dedicated to the production of alternative films. Twelve years later, his disappearance is threatening. Only the film-lovers of the Locarno Festival always come up there in the hope of utopia in the depths of a plate of raw vegetables.

Irene Bignardi, “Monte Verità”, in Le piccole utopie, Feltrinelli, 2003. 


The most original wooden house in Switzerland, home and headquarters of the Coopérative Vétérienne Monte Verità. Since 1981 permanent museum on the history of Monte Verità and its utopias (anarchy, social utopia, theosophy, life reform, psychology, mythology, dance, music, literature). 

Casa Selma: air-light hut of the vegetarians of Monte Verità in 1900, where other documents on the life of Monte Verità are kept.

Chiaro Mondo dei Beati wooden house in the style Monte Verità, restored in 1986 to present the painting Paradise imagined by the painter Elisar von Kupffer, on a large panoramic circular canvas.

input: en. 6.- /groups, students, military and retired fr. 4.-

Chiaro Mondo dei Beati Wooden house in the Monte Verità style, restored in 1986 to present painting the paradise imagined by the painter Elisar von Kupffer, on a large panoramic canvas.

Fondation Monte Verita

Adresse : 6612 Ascona, Suisse

Musée : Tel.+ 41 91 791 03 27
Fondation : Tel.+ 41 91 791 01 81.

Site web :
Email :

Opening hours :
April/May/June/September/October: Tuesday-Sunday 14.30-18.00
July/August: Tuesday-Sunday 15.00-19.00

Tarif :
Adulte : fr. 6
groups, students, military and retired fr. 4.-

We are no longer at the stage of a community life experience as in Monte Verita. Leaving power systems is our choice of civilization. Pages in direct relationship with the development of our life networks

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The Moso people, a World without father or husband 

16 June 2022

The Moso people were declared a model people on the 50th anniversary of the UN.The Moso people straddle Yunnan and Sichuan, the foothills of the Himalayas, China. Who is the Moso people? This page was posted on 21/11/2003 and updated on 10/01/2005. We thank the film team for sending us these two photos to illustrate […]


The Forbidden and Taboo Origin of Human Knowledge

3 July 2022

the spiritual and intellectual knowledge of ancient Egyptian, Aztec and Inca civilizations that contradicts the Bible and remains forbidden in Western Judeo-Christian culture.. The spiritual and intellectual knowledge of ancient Egyptian, Aztec and Inca civilizations that contradicts the Bible. The world’s oldest city destroyed by earthquake In Bolivia, at an altitude of 4,000 meters, lies […]