Le Case dei Sette Mulini, Panarea

Le Case dei Setti Mulini, Panarea, Sicily

This is one of the most beautiful houses in the Aeolian Islands, the volcanic archipelago located off the north eastern tip of Sicily. It was originally a cluster of houses (“The Houses of the Seven Millars”) it was acquired in the early 1960s by the leading art dealer Erika Brausen and her companion the model Toto Koopman.

Erika founded the Hanover Gallery in London, which launched the careers of many of the greatest 20th century artists including Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti.  Toto’s beguiling Dutch-Javanese lineage and exotic beauty led her to become the most famous model of her time, as well as the favourite of photographer George Hoyningen-Heune, featuring in many of his most iconic images. Read more about Toto.

Together they re-built the rooms and laid out the gardens and interconnecting pathways as they are still today; with luscious fig, almond and lemon trees, along with many species of flowering cacti and bougainvilleas. As much as anyone else, they are responsible for making Panarea into the alluring jet-set destination it became, bringing to their house as guests many of their illustrious and aristocratic friends and clients from across the globe.

When she was in Panarea alone, around the mid-1980s, Toto would often invite us out for dinner, and she would regale us with stories of her earlier years in Panarea. Although well into her 70s by then, she still loved the company of younger people and it was so fascinating for us to listen to her.

Both Erika and Toto died between 1991 and 1992, and the house now belongs to a family from South Africa who have faithfully restored it to its original splendour, as can be seen in the images here.

This feature is available to purchase as a set, please contact me me for information, or any individual image as a limited edition, framed fine art print.

The images are also available for any commercial or editorial use.

fashion photograph of Toto Koopman from 1934 by George Hoyningen Huene

A fashion photograph of Toto Koopman from 1934 by George Hoyningen Huene