“Mount of Truth” (Monte Verità) at Ascona,
canton of Ticino, Switzerland “The place where
our forehead touches the sky” *)
The Italian speaking canton of Ticino (Republica e
Cantone Ticino), the most southern part of Swit-
zerland, is a canton of present Switzerland since
On its cantonal territory the Gotthard Pass is the
most important north/south passage crossing the
Central Alps. (As of coming December it will be
possible to pass underneath the Gotthard Massif
through the longest railway tunnel (57,1 km) in
less than 20 minutes.
At the upper end of the Lake Maggiore lies the
municipality of Ascona, with its well-known Mon-
In the 19th century the area around Locarno
and Ascona was a collection zone of anarchists,
freethinkers, poets, painters and other artists. (A
listing of all the persons having left their marks
cannot be considered within the frame of this
essay. As representative only the writer and poet
Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962) is mentioned.)
Many people recognize the principles and objec-
tives of the pioneers of Monte Verità as the origin
of today’s naturism.
How everything began
Summer 1899. In the former Austrian City of Vel-
des (today’s name Bled, now part of Slovenia),
the Flemish young person Henri Oedenkoven
(1875 – 1935) met his soul mate Ida Hofmann
(1864 – 1926).
Henri Oedenkoven, born in Antwerp, was the son
of a wealthy Belgian industrialist and ship owner.
He grew up in the conventional environment of a
spoiled and bored society class. Not worrying of
anything he enjoyed all the pleasures, the good
life without any responsibility and goal. Suddenly
he sees through the scam of civilisation. He calls
Ida Hofmann, born in Transylvania, taught in
Cetinje (today Montenegro) as an educator and
piano teacher, the princesses of the aristocracy in
the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now she is on va-
cation. She is depressed. She feels the discrepan-
cy between the society and the laws of nature.
Grief and resignation darken her life. She knows
no way out.
The two were looking around for other suppor-
ters. The Hungarian Lieutenant Karl Gräser enjoy-
ed special sympathy. He, too, had been in Veldes
during summer 1899.
Then Lotte Hartmann, a pretty mayor’s daughter
and Gustav Gräser, the younger brother of Karl,
also joined the group.
Looking for a suitable place
Oedenkoven, who had travelled a lot, suggested
a charming spot at the middle of the Lake Como:
Lenno. By foot and, for those days, dressed unu-
sually, the group made its way. Especially the
women attracted the attention of the people on
the way. This, because they dared to renounce a
corset and they let their hair hang down, the way
God had let them grow. The men had the courage
to walk in knee-less pants. It was Gustav Gräser
who was dressed particularly noticeable.
He was even less embarrassed than the others.
With naked legs, he had draped a long hair-made
tunic in a picturesque way. A wide leather lace,
looking like a diadem, restrained his abundant
but straggly hair.
Most of time the group was walking barefoot,
rarely they put on their sandals.
Once arrived at the planned site, they were not
sure whether they should buy the chosen proper-
ty or not.
Oedenkoven stayed, so to keep the place warm.
The others continued so to visit further places in
the Italian Lakes area.
Building the artists’ colony
It was during the year 1900 that the Five were
able to agree to purchase land in the area of Mon-
te Monescia near Ascona and to put their plans
into actions. They changed the name into Monte
Verità and founded a so-called “vegetal Coopera-
tive”. A settlement community, first on a vegan,
later on a vegetarian base. It was not the claim of
the new owners to be in possession of the truth
that was hidden behind this name change.
The new name rather should express the effort
to truly live.
They eagerly built, planted and began to practice
agriculture. These activities had been carried out
mainly totally naked. Needless to say, that this had caused quite a stir for the local residents and that the place became a popular destination for excursions. For the financing, later on a sanatorium, a hotel and a restaurant were built. tHe departure of tHe founders1920: various disagreements between the former founders and the newly joined supporters caused Henri Oedenkoven to leave Monte Verità. This together with his wife Isabelle. Oedenkoven had met the English lady Isabelle Adderley during the first years of war, and later had married her. Their first destination was Spain. An already purchased land had to be returned to the govern-ment, as a railway was planned to be built there.With the profit out of the sale, Oedenkoven immi-grated with his family to Brazil. As Ida Hofmann was unable to live without her soul-mate, she also joined the group. However, a planned new foundation according to the ideas of Monte Verità (Monte Sol) failed, due to climatic conditions. tHe beginning of tHe endInitially, the site was taken over by Robert Land-mann, (pseudonym for Werner Ackermann 1892 – 1982). But as he was unable to continue with the previous successes of the former founders, he decided to sell the whole site and to immigrate to South Africa (Swaziland).In 1926 the Russian painter Marianne von Weref-kin called the attention of the German banker Eduard von der Heydt to the former living colony, at which she herself had participated before. Ba-roness Werefkin eventually managed to convince von der Heydt to buy the legendary mount. Von der Heydt bought the land still during the same year for the amount of 160.000 francs (today’s value about one million euros) and reali-gned the grounds. But von der Heydt was not able either to recover the importance of the Monte Verità of its foun-ders. His greatest legacy was only the fact that he succeeded to set some accents as to architecture and museums. For example the newly built hotel in the Bauhaus style or his collection of objects from Far Eastern Asia.After his death in 1964 von der Heydt bequeathed the grounds of Monte Verità by testament to the canton of Ticino.In 1989 the Ticino Parliament transferred the property to a specially established foundation (Fondazione Monte Verità), which provides the fa-cilities to the ETH in Zurich for seminar activities. The existing premises haven been completed by a new auditorium, according to plans by the ar–chitect from Ticino Livio Vacchini (1933 – 2007).Monte verità todayDuring Spring 2006 a tea-park has been opened at Monte Verità. The tea plants (Camellia sinen-ses) can also be purchased here. A Zen-garden and a teahouse (in the Loreley building), where tea ceremonies and seminars on Green Tea are held, complete the park. During 2007/08 the only truly original hotel buil-ding from the period of the “New Building” in Switzerland has professionally been restored with the support of international experts. At this oc-casion all materials, but also the furniture (beds, tables, chairs and lamps) in the guest rooms have been restored and renewed. For this extraordina-ry performance the hotel received the ICOMOS award as Historic Hotel of the Year in 2013. The firm is member of Swiss Historic Hotels already since 2008. concLusionsAt the end the cohabitation failed only because of continuous tensions and conflicts among the people. As example one may state:The lack of Statutes, that means a formal and • binding regulation, accepted by all members.The lack of the smallest common denominator, • the rejection of the bourgeois worldproved to be a too frail basis for a sustained prosperity of the colony. Objectives and demands set too high. Conflict • between idealism and realism/pragmatism.The requirement of the vegan persons for a • change from leather-made sandals (animal product!) to vegetable-made footwear could not be realized, due to lack of equivalent plant materials.
3Oncologists discovered how the aggressive form of skin cancer infect other organsJerusalem/Heidelberg – The statistics are alar-ming: In average, every 52 minutes a person dies of a melanoma disease. In cooperation with scientists of Heidelberg, Israeli cancer resear-chers have now discovered how the aggressive form of skin cancer infects other organs. This could revolutionise the treatment of this often life-threatening disease, the Tel Aviv University announced on Tuesday. The researchers were able to show that ma-lignant melanomas emit tiny bubbles, called vesicles, to prepare other organs to receive me-tastases. Simultaneously they discovered chemi-cal substances that suppress this progress and “could hereby become promising elements of future medications”, according to statements by the researchers.Hope for reMediesRecently the Israeli scientists, in collaboration with their colleagues from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, published their results in the scientific journal „Nature Cell Bio-logy“. „We hope that our findings will help to Not all colonists were able to comply with the • demands by the vegetarians and to feed them-selves exclusively as vegetarians.Similar wise, not all the colonists were willing • to immediately and continuously refrain from luxury items (above all tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea) (abstinence).Publisher: Rolf Hostettler, President of the Naturist Association of Liechtenstein (LNV).