Every month we bring to your attention a tiny part of the wonderful West Coast of Mallorca. This month, we turn the spotlight on High Deià, as we call it, which runs from roughly behind the village library to the Belmond La Residencia hotel.
High Deià is the part of the village blessed with the most sunshine. Which is why it’s not surprising that homes here tend to cost more than elsewhere in Deià.If you’re not familiar with the climate of Deià, you might feel that it’s unnecessary to pay a premium for sunshine on an island drenched in sunlight for most of the year. But there’s no doubt that High Deià gets considerably more than anywhere else in the village.
Look at the lovely Can Toniet. Apart from possessing its own special charm, Can Toniet is bathed in sunshine for hours at a time. Which does wonders for one’s sense of wellbeing.
And there are the outstanding views, whether of the mountains or across the village, its church illuminated at night, and out to sea. One of the great luxuries of life in Deià is to do nothing but gaze at the view, lose yourself in the drama of the landscape and attempt to conjure up history.
When I decided to write about this part of the village, I got in touch with Tomàs Graves – a constant source of arcane knowledge about Deià. He shared what he knew of the fascinating story of Can Fusimany, one of the oldest buildings in the village. If any of what follows seems garbled or implausible, please feel free to blame me.
The name Can Fusimany comes from the words Força i manya or ‘strength and dexterity’, probably the nickname of the original owner. The house is in several parts. There’s another Can Fusimany in the village, the house a few doors down from the town hall, the one with a large garden, next to the post office, which was probably the ‘town house’ associated with the large house.
I’ve heard the big house called Son Fusimany which is the normal way of naming a large estate: Son being ‘that which belongs to so and so’ and Can means ‘where so and so lives’.
In the big house, to the right of the main door is a small apartment or house which belonged to one of Deià’s two clergymen. Then around the corner, to the right, is another apartment.
The main house belonged to the well-known landscape painter and portrait artist Juan Miralles, who died in 2010 at age 98. His family still owns it. I remember in the early 1960s an exhibition/happening was held in the courtyard, probably organised by Miralles, and the theme was camels. The event was one of the first where Majorcan and foreign painters exhibited together. I also think that Daevid Allen and another Aussie musician played some avant-garde flute and percussion! I was only about 10, so I can’t be 100% sure. I do clearly remember the paintings of camels exhibited around the courtyard. Norman Yanikun painted a huge version of the Camel cigarette package.
Can Fusimany also has an utterly intriguing association with the notorious 18th century Italian magician Count Allessandro di Cagliostro, real name Giuseppe Balsamo. To borrow what author Somerset Maugham said about the South of France, Cagliostro may well have been one of the first to make Deià occasionally ‘a sunny place for shady people’.
Cagliostro was a magician, occultist, alchemist, clairvoyant, student of the Kabbalah, prime mover in Freemasonry, forger, swindler and Cthulhu knows what else. His secret sign was Ouroboros, the snake that bites its own tail – an ancient symbol found all over the Mediterranean.
He was also imprisoned in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace. This took place in 1785 and involved Louis VXI of France and Marie Antoinette. She was ruined by gossip implying she took part in a scheme to defraud the crown jewellers out of the cost of a diamond necklace. The scandal helped bring about the French Revolution.
The authorities couldn’t pin anything on Cagliostro. But, when he was released, he was exiled from France. After fleeing to England, he ended up in Rome. He was sentenced to death by the Pope for being a Freemason. The death sentence was commuted to life in prison and he died in the Fortress of San Leo in Italy.
It’s claimed that Cagliostro was the model for Goethe’s Faust. The Beast 666, Aleister Crowley, believed he was Cagliostro in a previous incarnation.
(Incidentally, I recently read that Crowley claimed his fear-inducing adopted name actually meant sunlight. ‘Call me “Little Sunshine”,’ he said at one of his many trials. These are the truly chilling patterns that emerge when one starts researching into anything occult.)
Cagliostro wasn’t all evil, apparently. According to Faust.com, ‘he treated thousands of poor people in clinics throughout Europe and refused payment. He was enormously popular among the common people – sometimes the police were needed to control the crowds around his clinics.’ Unfortunately, he wasn’t a trained doctor.
Discovering that Cagliostro spent time in Deià is, for me, mind-boggling. All Tomás knows about Cagliostro’s supposed time at Can Fusimany is that he had connections with a Mallorcan family of Italian descent. Centuries later, in the 1970s, a relative of the poet Claribel Alegria was staying at Can Fusimany and broke a mirror that Cagliostro had supposedly left behind.
Cagliostro was known to practice mirror-gazing, or scrying. This is the art of gazing into the mirror or other reflective surfaces – like a crystal ball – to try and see visions and foretell the future.
If you know anything about why and when Cagliostro came to be in Deià, please let me know.
Now you have a little of the essence of High Deià’s charm. You can be drenched in sunlight, drunk on glorious views and only a short walk from the heart of the village while being absolutely immersed in a unique, literally magical history.
Next time you have a moment, why not find a vantage point in High Deià from which to take in a sunrise or sunset? Imagine all the strange pairs of eyes that have looked down over the tumbling olive terraces towards the sea, up at the vast amphitheatre of the mountain bowl or at the humble village church on its mount over the centuries.
Feel the past tapping you on the shoulder.
If you’d like to know more about our selection of homes in High Deià, contact Maria. Should you want to rent a home in High Deià, please get in touch with Nikol. Email Maria and Nikol at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0034 971 636 427.