In 1940 American novelist Ernest Hemingway bought the Finca la Vigía, a villa on a hill in San Francisco de Paula, 15km southeast of Havana, where he lived continuously for 20 years. When he departed, tired and depressed, for the US in 1960 soon after the Castro revolution, he generously donated his house to the 'Cuban people.' It is now a museum and almost unchanged since the day he left.
To prevent the pilfering of objects, visitors are not allowed inside the house (La Casona), but there are enough open doors and windows to allow a proper glimpse of Papa's universe. Inside the house there are books everywhere (including beside the toilet), a large Victrola and record collection, and a disturbing array of trophy animal heads.
A three-story tower next to the main house contains a tiny typewriter, a telescope and a comfortable lounger, and offers suitably inspiring views north toward the distant city. In the heavily wooded grounds below you'll encounter the swimming pool where Ava Gardner once swam naked, a cockfighting ring and Hemingway's beloved fishing boat, Pilar, grounded on what was once his tennis court.
In 2019, in a rare show of Cuban-American cooperation, a restoration center was built on the site to preserve Hemingway's work.
To reach San Francisco de Paula, take metro bus P-7 (Alberro) from Parque de la Fraternidad in Centro Habana. Tell the driver you're going to the museum. You get off in San Miguel del Padrón; the house entrance is on Calle Vigía, 200m east of the main road, Calzada de Guines.