Museo Ernesto Hemingway’s Finca Vigia – A photo guided tour by AJ Twist

By AJ Twist / Posted May 23, 2013

If you are planning a visit to Havana or are already there, including the Museo Ernesto Hemingway as one of your activities is a must. Sure you can pop into the Bodeguita for a mojito or La Floridita for a daiquiri (and a photo by the bronzed statue of Hemingway while you’re there), but a trek to the Finca Vigia, the “lookout farm”, where Hemingway lived for twenty years, is the real deal. In the meantime, here is a brief tour to give you a taste.

Photo 0140: A three-story birthday gift. Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary Welsh, had this three story tower designed  in 1947 as a surprise for Hemingway’s birthday. Hemingway never liked it for writing as he found it too quiet and, instead, it became a sanctuary for the many cats that roamed the property. The top room has a beautiful view of the valley leading to downtown Havana including the Capitolio building and the Havana Bay.


Photo 0118:

(Same tower as per photo 0140 but from different angle.)

Photo 0147: The pilgrimage begins here. The main entrance of the Finca Vigia.



Photo: 0179: Painstaking details. An example of the meticulous restoration work.

Here are the exposed layers of paint used over the history of the home to restore the exterior to its original color.


Photo 0184: For whom the bell tolls. Visiting guests, of which there were many, were greeted with Hemingway clanging this bell that lies at the home’s entrance.


Photo 0188: If these walls could talk.The interior of Hemingway’s living room. Note the bull-fighting posters and trophies. The security guards enjoy the tranquility.


Photo 0191: Old man and the water. A tour guide describes the well and water source. Note the beautiful tile work.


Photo 0203: Oh, behave. A detail from the living room. On Hemingway’s chair lies a stick that he used to keep the dozens of cats in line. Note also the well-stocked bar albeit much drier than it was during its heyday.



Photo 0208: Two gazelles. A security guard watches over Hemingway’s writing room and bedroom. Note his Royal typewriter on the bookcase where he wrote standing up due to chronic back problems.


Photo 0217: A local hero. A detail from Hemingway’s bathroom. Legend has it that this frog put up such a heroic fight against one of the Finca Vigia’s cats one day that Hemingway decided to have it preserved to honor its efforts.


Photo 0220: Books, books and more books. Hemingway’s study. Part of Hemingway’s Finca Vigia legacy was in his vast literary collection that was in the range of five thousand books.


Photo 0224: Don’t bother me. A detail from Hemingway’s desk. Hemingway hated to respond to the many letters that would make it to the farm so he had a rubber stamp made for his responses.

On it was “ I never write letters”.


Photo 0235: Room with a view. The ‘writing room” in the three story tower that was never used for writing. Instead some safari mementos were out on display. Mary Welsh would sunbath on the roof on occasion


Photo 0245: Black lies here. One of the gravestones from the dog graveyard on the property. Cats did not receive the same dignities, evidently.



Photo: 0251:The Pilar. Hemingway’s famous marlin fishing boat, the Pilar, dry-docked on the property. Mary Welsh had given the Pilar to Gregorio, Hemingway’s ever-faithful captain and companion.


Photo 0255: A sacred journey. The stone path leading up to Museo Hemingway’s Finca Vigia in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.


All photos taken by A.J. Twist. Copyright 2013.

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AJ Twist

A.J. Twist is a Montreal-based writer and photographer. He is a frequent traveller to Havana,Cuba as well as many other exotic urban destinations.