The Mountain of Truth: how a Swiss nudist colony became the cradle of European counterculture
When Ida Hoffman set eyes on Monte Verità for the first time, the leaves were just beginning to turn. It was the first Autumn of the 20th century and she and five of her companions, one of whom was her lover Henri Oedenkoven, had been travelling around northern Italy and southern Switzerland with an eye to purchase a large piece of land to transform into a refuge for the unconventional, the forward-thinking, and the revolutionary.
Located in the mountainous region of Ticino, Monte Verite, was exactly what Hoffman, a German pianist and author, Henri Oedenkoven, a Dutch entrepreneur, Jenny Gräser, a concert singer, her husband Karl, a lieutenant, and Lotte Hattemer, a Berlinese teacher and academic had been hoping for. This abandoned vineyard was both fertile, astonishingly beautiful, and very remote, sitting far above the now-miniaturised port town of Ascona. It would be here, in this kingdom-in-the-clouds, that these five free-thinking founders would establish a utopian colony, whose residents would go on to shape 20th-century art and culture.