THE BLOG
09/05/2014 11:22 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Tour of Hemingway's Cuba

Anyone with a serious desire for an intimate look at Cuba would do well to sign up for a tour sponsored by the intrepid Finca Vigia Foundation in early December.

It's the first-ever such expedition for the group, and it's designed to raise money to preserve Ernest Hemingway's legacy there.

So, yes, that means his home, his 12-acre estate and even his beloved Wheeler fishing boat, Pilar, will be an integral part of the adventure.

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Ernest Hemingway's Living Room, Finca Vigia

"People who like his writing would love his house," says Mary-Jo Adams, executive director of the foundation. "He lived the last 22 years of his life there, and accepted his Nobel Prize there. He left thinking he'd return -- his letters, books, record player, jazz and opera records are all there."

The tour's itinerary has been organized in collaboration with the travel service provider Cubapuentes, which holds a People to People license from the United States Treasury. The organization's president, Silvia Wilhelm, will serve as tour leader.

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Havana Harbor, with El Moro fort in background

"Silvia was born in Cuba and knows the country well," Adams says. "Her connections in Cuba are extraordinary."

Indeed. The tour includes the colonial city of Trinidad and the French-settled city of Cienfuegos, with talks by local architects and historians. Also planned is a walking tour of Havana's plazas, led by architect Ayleen Robaina, from the city historian's office.

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Havana Cathedral and the Plaza de la Catedral

Small hotels are the order of the day. "They're beautiful -- they used to be single-family homes, with maybe 15 to 20 rooms," she says.

And most meals will be in paladars, or small restaurants in private homes, some of them big and quite ornate, with fine chefs.

All in all, it's an experience designed to expose the Cuban people to their American counterparts on an intimate level, and vice versa.

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A musician makes his way across a plaza in Havana

"The Cubans will discover that Americans are very nice, very interested and very curious" she says. "The Americans will see how resilient, how smart and how intellectually proud the Cubans are."

Which is precisely why, it would seem, that Hemingway and the natives of the island got along so well for two decades, some 60 years ago.

Limited to just 18-20 people, the tour is scheduled for Dec. 5-12. For more information, email Adams at execdir@fincafoundation.org.

J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications. He also edits and publishes an online design magazine at www.architectsandartisans.com.