A very different Italy.
To get your week off to an exotic start we thought we would share some writing from our Italy issue. Please enjoy Etna Moments, written by Ed Henry and Photographed by Renae Smith. You can buy the Italy issue here.
On an island off Italy’s boot you quickly learn that if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.
When you think of Sicily, what comes to mind?
The answers I received were split between those who hadn’t travelled there and those who had. The former would mumble something vague or hesitant - “it looks nice,” or “the birthplace of the Mafia right?”. The latter would gush a living eulogy for an island that captures the imagination and remains lodged there well after the holiday’s end. Now that I was visiting, I was suddenly a member of this club, the cognoscenti if you will. And in keeping with the island’s own warmth and generosity I will extend an invite, or provide a window at least, into this rocky triangular mass in the Mediterranean.
A whiff of context: Italy and I have history, from a grandfather who called it home to friends scattered across the North. I have had the privilege of seeing this country from many angles and so my objectivity is questionable. But this was my first jaunt to Sicily, and for my (much) better half, her first trip anywhere south of the Alps.
Sicily is a place that Italian mainlanders very consciously visit, such is the distinct identity that the island enjoys. Not forced, it is forged through the rich history that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Sicily is distinctly Italian, and the architecture and gastronomic traditions are on full display, alongside other axiomatically Italianate amusements. But it’s been combined and entwined with Greek flavours and Arabic influences, not to mention Spanish rule, and much more besides. I say this not to intimate a deep knowledge of the island but because it’s there for you to see, smell and taste. To the visitor more accustomed to the waterways of Venice or the sleek Milan cityscape, Sicily offers a warm, rugged and almost rough embrace.
Trains do snake their way around the island, but your own set of wheels is thoroughly recommended. For a fully immersive experience, we plumped for a Fiat 500 (new model), but it wasn’t available, so they gave us one with a retractable roof. Oh fine, if you must. A less composed traveller would have squealed with excitement.
From Catania on the Ionian Sea we pointed the car north and meandered up the coast to our first base: Taormina, which is in no way defined by its undoubtedly touristy centre. We used the town as a launchpad for the surrounding area, and were handsomely rewarded. I do caveat that point, and indeed all of this article, by saying that we travelled in June. Intentionally so, as the temperature is a happy 30oC at this time of the year, rather than a sweltering 40oC plus. More crucially, we avoided the period between late July and the end of August which sees the mainland descend upon the island for tanning and indulgence.
Once installed in our apartment (more immersive than a hotel), we spent days visiting nearby beaches, sunning ourselves on Spisone, sea kayaking around the grottoes and walking up Isola Bella. Later we trundled down the coast to Siracusa, a functioning commercial city. Whilst it does have spots for archeology enthusiasts, and some top eating experiences, the big draw is the historic centre, Ortigia. To be blunt, it’s stunning. An afternoon walking around Ortigia’s backstreets is sheer joy, the main square a deep white, dominated as it is by the Duomo - I didn’t think places like this existed anymore. Ortigia itself is an island off an island, so if you walk for much more than ten minutes in any direction you’ll come upon the azure abyss that surrounds it.
At this point you think you’re aesthetically there, at the apotheosis, and that you can relax with a cool beer. Not so, or Noto so - if you will. A winding 40 minutes’ drive away is Noto, which would scream UNESCO heritage site, if only it weren’t so tranquil. The cathedral gleams in the Mediterranean light, the numerous supporting cast of churches and palaces resplendent under the sun. It’s a visual feast, and if you’re into architecture, it will probably satisfy more needs besides.
The best way to wind down from such an experience is to step into one of the local ice cream shops. Not just any gelateria, mind. Where do you think the best gelato is? That place in Soho? Don’t joke. San Crispino in Rome? It’s up there. But the number one and number two are within 50 metres of each other in Noto. A locale called Caffè Sicilia sounds like a tourist trap, but it’s not. It does to your mouth what the rest of the town does to your eyes. I’ll leave it there, and say to you go. Go.
The inner island is matched in beauty by what you find on the coast - picturesque beaches lapped by clear blue waters. They all deserve a mention, but only one gets that honour. Riserva Naturale Orientata Oasi Faunistica di Vendicari, as the names suggests, is a nature reserve, one where you can walk through ancient ruins, jump (cautiously) from rocks into the cooling waves below, or tiring of that, find your own spot on the pristine stretch of coastline.
Subsumed in the beauty of the landscape, we avoided Sicily’s cities apart from a brief drive through Catania. This city has more to offer than suicidal driving, but it’s a different trip. Its vibe is long weekend, not a week unwinding in the sun. The single greatest thing about the city however, is the elephant in the room of this piece so far. Mount Etna, which stands behind Catania, dominates the skyline up and down much of the coast, which means that you can have your own Etna moment no matter where you are as it’s visible from, well, everywhere. The classic way to take it in is from the amphitheatre in Taormina, although others prefer to see it in contrast with Catania’s urban grit. We found our Etna moment when looking down at the valleys and beaches from picture- perfect Castelmola, a hilltop town you wouldn’t believe existed until you saw it. The only thing towering over us? Etna herself. The millennial traveller is accustomed to mountains, au fait with tropical climate and quite frankly used to white sand. A volcano is a treasure of nature not often seen. If you leave Sicily in any doubt, you won’t arrive home with it; as the plane climbs into the sky it skims Etna just above her peak.
The food. Oh yes. I’ve saved the food for the end so as to contain it, for memories of my trip, as with much of life, are marked, or should that be stained, by what I ate at the time. The food here excites and subverts and is as much of an experience as any of the vistas. You farewell Sicily with a new found love of aubergines, you’ll remember how wonderful tomatoes can actually taste and best of all, you’ll discover that fish needn’t be dry, bland and deep-fried.
Sicilian food is independent of mainland Italian cuisine. The two styles are not unrelated, but think of Sicilian food as a proud cousin. The same historical and imperial forces responsible for Sicily’s formation, have brought similar import to its cuisine. This is not to say that classical Italian strands are not evident: my travelling companion’s dish of the tour was the definitive Pasta alla Norma served at La Piazzetta in Taormina. Named after the work of one of Catania’s most famous sons, this dish became almost a standard for restaurants up and down the east coast.
Not every meal can be indulged in print, but it would be remiss not to pull out a couple of highlights. Osteria da Carlo was a gem hidden in Ortigia. We had the legendary six- course fish menu, for the grand sum of €35, washed down with the best bottle of €5 house plonk I’ve ever swilled. If it swam in the sea nearby, then it was on that menu. You order sea bass, and not one, but two of the fullest, freshest fillets turn up, naturally served in the juice of the finest fruit Sicily has on land: lemon.
Flavours on the island, like the setting, shall not date. Consistency, textures, even viscosity are all different, all exciting. Entirely Sicilian. As Sicily’s perhaps most prominent literary son, Giovani di Lampedusa, proffered: “Sicily is Sicily - 1860, earlier, forever”. Long may she be, and proudly too. More’s the better for me, as I will be back soon.
Each issue of Lodestars Anthology ends with a series of collectables, 200 word features on people, places and ideas that work together to make our featured country truly grand. Here is a selection of our Italian collectables; with food integral to this vibrant country, of course they come with plenty of flavour ... and a dash of Campari. You can purchase the printed magazine here.
Stand in a room basking in the glow emanating from Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Wander around the Piazza del Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with your neck craned upwards, staring at the behemoth archway, carvings and dome glass skylights. Get dizzy. Sit down and order a shakerato and collect your thoughts. Spend 25 minutes in a souvenir shop selling AC Milan and Inter Milan jerseys, trying to remember which one your boyfriend wanted, let alone which player’s number. Almost get into an argument with the shop keeper when you get the colours of each team mixed up. Spray every fragrance in every small boutique on yourself while (window) shopping along the Via della Spiga. Get lost (literally) in the historic Brera district. Partake in a culinary experience, dining on a saffron-infused risotto alla Milanese while a fleet of 30 Mini Coopers congregates in the piazza right outside. Take a sip of wine and kiss the tips of all five of your fingers at once, to complete the postcard-perfect scene you’re currently living out.
If on a summer’s day you find yourself standing in il Mercatale, the large piazza-turned-bus terminal beneath Urbino’s ancient city walls, look up. Against a sky of childish blue you’ll witness an orchestra of swallows filling the air, engaged in dizzying acrobatic feats above the city’s Palazzo Ducale. The juxtaposition is brilliant - a silent, staid Renaissance structure frozen beneath a sky abuzz with avian daredevils.
Urbino rises almost organically from the hilly landscape of the northern regions of Le Marche. The vibrant centre of a constellation of small, walled towns that freckle the countryside. One cannot understate its Renaissance significance. A city of art and learning, its court served as the inspiration, and later, the setting for Baladassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, the definitive 16th century account of courtly life. More importantly perhaps, Urbino is the birthplace of the Renaissance master Raphael.
Urbino’s labyrinthine streets are dotted with churches, oratories and chapels with the 15th century UNESCO listed Palazzo Ducale standing, as it always has, in the city’s heart while the 16th century university ensures students breathe life into Urbino long after summertime tourists have absconded.
D. W. Grunner
Comprised of 17 ingredients, in homage to the 17 districts of Siena, panforte is Tuscany’s most famous cake. Candied fruits, including cedro and orange peel, along with lemon zest, blanched almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios, are combined with flour, cocoa, sugar, honey and spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, coriander seed, cloves and white pepper - which are heated together, before being poured into a pan lined with rice flour paper to form a flat, sweet, sticky, dense cake.
Siena’s town archives attest to the fact that this fruit and nut cake has been made here since 1205. Legend has it that religious crusaders carried rounds of panforte with them on long journeys and that the cake was used as a form of currency in medieval times, paid each year in February to local monks and nuns. In 1879 Queen Margherita visited the town and in honour of the visit her moniker was added to the name, and thus panforte made to the traditional recipe, by bakers like the third generation Marabissi family in Chianciano, is now called ‘panforte Margherita’. A popular Tuscan Christmas gift, it is served after meals with Vin Santo, the local dessert wine.
Campari - bitter, aromatic, happiness in a glass. My ardour for the aperitif took me on a pilgrimage, a 27-hour commute from the Antipodes to the company’s headquarters in search of the secret recipe. A drink is the first order of business. Camparino, perhaps Milan’s most famous, and certainly best positioned bar on the edge of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, is the birthplace of Campari; the famous liquor originally mixed, barrelled and bottled here in the cellar. Today, as everyday, aperitivo is served. Campari soda is the most requested aperitif. Although respect must be paid to Italy’s Negroni and Aperol Spritz.
The next morning at Campari’s now headquarters, Paolo Cavallo, director of the onsite museum, tells me of the company’s decision to open the exhibition space. “Our machinery is much less sexy than our ad campaigns,” he says. When I press Paolo for the recipe he is quick to respond. “It is a complicated formula of lots of different herbs, aromatics and citrus.” In the history of Campari only two people have ever known the recipe at any one time. “One family member and the CEO,” he says. “And I’m neither.”
SAILING IN SARDINIA
Sardinia is a sailor’s paradise with over 1,000 miles of coastline offering pristine white beaches, turquoise-hued coves, rocky promontories and time-forgotten fishing villages. Delicious food, heartfelt welcomes and a sense of tradition combine to make the yacht charter scene here one of the most popular in the Mediterranean - and with over 300 days of sunshine there is plenty of time to enjoy the natural beauty.
Being only 12 kilometres from Corsica, both islands can be chartered, with the plentiful and diverse anchorages ensuring endless possibilities. Modern resort harbours allow for the discovery of unique surrounding villages or a spot of upscale dining and boutique shopping.
Most sailors focus on the northeast coast. The Maddalena Archipelago is a national marine park and once a permit is acquired, crystal waters reveal a seabed peppered with life and an abundance of dive sites. In the bays and harbours of the sophisticated Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast), superyachts glide alongside skiffs on the shimmering sea, exploring luxurious towns and the intensely beautiful shore. There is freedom and adventure in sailing these warm waters, the extraordinary scenic setting a lure for all.
Here's a little piece we put together for Need Supply Co all about the wonders of undiscovered Italy. . . .
With our Italy issue set to arrive back from the printers next week, we thought it would be grand to a) give you a little sneak peak of what lies within the magazine and b) let you know where copies can be ordered.
For UK, EU and US shoppers (and for Australian's who are reluctant to wait an extra two months) you can order copies from:
For more patient Aussies and New Zealanders there is the subscription service offered by
Just click on the above names and you shall be taken straight to the relevant site.
Of course if you have any questions or are after back issues don't hesitate to get in touch be emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll lend a helping hand.
While travelling upon Lake Garda for the Italy issue of Lodestars Anthology (out later this month) we first noticed the photographs of Simon Bray, who just so happened to be snapping the same subject as us. Drawn to his beautiful use of light, and ability to make this perfectly popular corner of Italy seem amazingly calm, we had to ask a few questions about his work ... and Italy of course.
What do you love about photography?
I have a desire to create images and often I won’t be able to rest until I’ve taken them, so in that sense, each image serves it’s purpose in feeding that personal need; it’s a scratch that needs to be itched, very therapeutic. At the same time, I know that each image holds a varying level of potential. I love that an image can evoke something in a person, a response or an emotion, that will be so vastly different to what I, as the photographer, see, or what anybody else might see in it. We’re all made up of a combination of our own history, cultural influences, our social upbringing, the places that we’ve been and the people that we’ve met. That can mean that an image that I’ve taken may mean absolutely nothing to you, but there might be one image, for reasons known or unknown, that you connect with, that sparks something, a thought or memory, or that you just enjoy visually because of the colours, tones, composition or subject matter. Each image has that potential power.
I’ve also been thinking about imagery and timescales recently. Photography is a long game. I’ll often think about the fact that the images I take may well outlast me, and that as much value as there is in viewing them now, I hope that the generations that supersede me will find them interesting in many years to come.
Can you remember the first photograph you took?
Not as such, although the first time I got really excited about an image was a photograph I took of a hummingbird hawk-moth in the French Alps on holiday. I was probably in my early teens and using my first 35mm film camera. Getting the film developed and looking at the print, and seeing that I’d somehow managed to capture it’s motion and movement felt quite incredible.
What inspires your work?
I’d like to say that each location I work in acts as the pure influence for the images I create, but I know that’s not totally true. I’ll certainly feed off the elements before me, but there are so many subconscious factors behind the decisions I make, if I’ve seen a similar image before I’ll need to decide whether I want to embrace that and create it for myself, or try something different. I suppose everything I read about photography, and all the images that I take in will influence my sense of how to portray subject matter in both potentially helpful or unhelpful ways. To a greater extent, it’s the light that will inspire me. I won’t often stop to make a landscape picture except for the fact that the light is particularly interesting, and my discernment for that is certainly something that has developed over the past couple of years and something I’m trying to encourage.
How would you define your style?
One of the most significant factors is space. Living in a city, I’m constantly yearning for greater physical space, so once I’m somewhere that I feel that greater sense of freedom, I can’t help but let that come through in the images, which often manifests itself in the form of negative space using sky or water. I was discussing this recently with a friend, how I won’t be proactively making decisions about an image as I take it. Previously, I will have taken a lot more time to consider the image I want before I shoot it, perhaps for technical reasons, or just slow decision making, but now it seems to come far more naturally and I’ll work quite quickly. I think that’s how my personal style will be encouraged, simply through the practice of taking images, although I still feel I need to slow everything down a bit! I’m trying to develop my understanding of how to create more concise images that dig deeper, to avoid simple surface level imagery and I’m sure taking more time to consider each image will aid that.
Does travel influence your work in any way?
Absolutely. I live in central Manchester, which really doesn’t provide much to feed my desire to create landscape images, so it’s almost a necessity for me to travel. I really savour the opportunity to explore a new location with my camera. There’s an excitement that comes with visiting a certain place in a certain season and capturing it in it’s current state, knowing that other photographers will visit later in the day, week, month or years later and see it in a completely different way. Landscapes evolve and the light makes all the difference. I’m not usually able to return on multiple occasions, but in many ways it’s a privilege to preserve a place on any given day through my images, it forces me to work with the environment I’m in and create in the moment, avoiding any preconceptions of what I’d like to create, which can be distracting.
What makes Italy such an interesting subject?
It’s a popular holiday destination for a reason! The combination of the the incredible food, weather and variety of scenery make it such a special place for me. The area surrounding Lake Garda is an alpine wonderland. Exploring the mountains and lakes was such a privilege, so many breathtaking views, and even though it was warm, everything was washed in this amazing blue light, probably the moisture in the air, it made for some stunning scenes to photograph. I’d recommend visiting in the off seasons in order to appreciate the true sense of space without the crowds of tourists, because there are some stunning small towns and villages, where I could just sit and watch the world go by for days with a glass of wine and some fresh pasta!
Has there been a particularly memorable project either past or present?
I’m currently working on my first long-term project, a collaboration with a Manchester based artist called Tom Musgrove. We’re visiting a selection of the most stunning locations across the UK, and each creating a piece for each location, which we’ll be exhibiting side-by-side at a show in the autumn. It’s taken nearly 2 years already, and it’s been great to visit stunning places that are only a few hours away. Our most recent trip to Glen Coe in Scotland was just incredible, the scenery, the light, the people we met, the conversations it sparked, the whole experience was very memorable. I also get to watch my work evolve, which is very important, but the most influential element has been the development of my relationship with Tom, the opportunity to discuss the discourse of our work, our varying methods and explore the motivations behind each piece we create. Tom takes his time on each trip to sketch, which has really forced me to slow down and appreciate the changing elements and light within the landscape.
What is your dream subject?
I don’t know if I have one at the moment, maybe that will develop over time. For now, any scenic location that I have the chance to explore with my camera in my own time would be a dream come true! Every commission I receive or project that I set out to do furthers my work, it’s a fresh challenge that I want to fully embrace. I still feel like I’m defining my practice and as a result, my style or imagery, maybe one day that will feel more concrete, or maybe I’ll just keep trying new things!
If on a summer’s day you find yourself standing in il Mercatale, the large piazza-turned-bus terminal beneath Urbino’s ancient city walls—look up. Against a sky of childish blue, you’ll witness an orchestra of swallows filling the air, engaged in dizzying acrobatic feats above the city’s Ducal Palace. The juxtaposition is brilliant—a silent, staid Renaissance structure frozen beneath a sky abuzz with avian daredevils.
Urbino, literally little city, rises almost organically from out of the hilly landscape of the northern regions of Le Marche. The vibrant center of a constellation of small, walled cities and towns that freckle the countryside, Urbino remains, even to this day, unconnected to the intricate system of railways that wind through Italy like a path of steel veins, joining towns and cities to one another. Instead, one must either come by bus or by car. And, yet, this only adds to its charm. Approaching on a July morning, one winds down narrow roads adjacent to sloped fields ablaze with sunflowers until, unexpectedly, the city emerges. The nearly theatrical character of its appearance is intentional—the two towers of Urbino’s Ducal Palace were constructed on angle so as to meet the gaze of visitors and welcome them to Duke Federico da Montefeltro’s court. The dramatic effect—a visible manifestation of the Duke’s prowess—remains as potent today as it was hundreds of years ago.
The pomp and bragging rights are, after all, well earned. One cannot understate Urbino’s Renaissance significance. A city of art and learning, its court served as the inspiration and, later, the setting for Baladassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, the definitive sixteenth century account of courtly life. More importantly, perhaps, Urbino is the birthplace of the Renaissance master Raphael (nee Raffaello Sanzio) whose presence is felt throughout the winding city streets. Walking up the aptly named Via Raffaello from La Piazza della Republica, Urbino’s central square, visitors can duck inside the unassuming and humble birthplace of the artist, once home to his father, an artist and poet before him. For those brave enough to tackle the entirety of Via Raffaello by foot—a city whose central quarters must be taken in on foot, Urbino’s steep hills are not for the faint of heart—a small park dedicated to the artist awaits. From this point, on a clear day, one can spy the Adriatic in the distance, its pellucid blue meeting the sky and obfuscating the horizon. On summer nights, the city’s children gather to play hide-and-go seek, using the marble busts of poets and writers as well as the towering statue of Raphael himself as hiding places.
Urbino’s labyrinthine streets are dotted with churches, oratories and chapels, each unlike the other. One of the most striking, the fourteenth century Romanesque-Gothic Chiesa di San Francesco (dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi), rests within the small square near the bottom of Via Raffaello, Piazetta delle Erbe, which is home to a small farmers market throughout the week. San Francesco’s bell tower, speckled with grass, looms large above the small square. A journey through the adjoining winding and narrow alleyways will take you to a true gem hidden behind the city walls—l’Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista (The Oratory of Saint John the Baptist), a small chapel dating from the 1300’s whose walls are covered in frescos painted by the Salimbeni brothers.
The city’s Ducal Palace, a 15th century Renaissance structure and now UNESCO World Heritage site, stands, as it always has, in the heart of Urbino. Entering via the small square adjacent to the city’s cathedral, a vaulted passage way lets onto il Cortile d’Onore, the palace’s interior courtyard, a touchstone of Renaissance geometry and architectural equilibrium. Imposing high ceilinged halls with frescoed walls give way to smaller galleries and balconies that offer views of the surrounding hillsides. Most importantly, the Ducal Palace houses the National Gallery of Le Marche—a stunning collection that boasts works from the likes of Raphael, Piero della Francesca, Titian and Barocci. Perhaps the greatest treasure of Urbino’s collection is the 1470 canvas The Ideal City, attributed to Piero della Francesca, which hangs on the far wall of a smaller gallery and can be read as a portrait of Urbino itself.
In the summer, Urbino bustles. Its cobblestones streets are filled with tourists, wide-eyed with cameras in hand. International students flock to the city for exchange programs and language immersion courses, mingling themselves with the locals who are generous and known for their hospitality. Throughout these summer months, Urbino hosts literary and artistic events, academic conferences open to the public, and baroque and classical music concerts that go late into the night in the various courtyards throughout the city. Now in its second year, Urbino is also home to a unique and burgeoning program, Shakespeare in Italy, a fourteen day actor’s residence dedicated to exploring and celebrating the Bard’s fascination with Italy. The city’s fortress, tucked within a park commemorating the resistance to Fascist rule, which offers breathtaking panoramic vistas of the city from on high, was once home to the yearly kite flying competition. The height of summer celebrations arrives in mid-August, when Urbino hosts its annual Festa del Duca, a three day long celebration during which the historical center of Urbino is returned to the Renaissance.
Come the autumn and winter months, however, Urbino becomes a sleepy city filled with those who flock to its University—one mustn’t forget that, for all intents and purposes, Urbino is a university town, home to a 16th century university with, at any given time, to nearly 13,000 students. These students, both Italian and from across the rest of the EU, breathe life into the city, filling the squares and cafes long after the tourists have absconded.
Still, even in the face of its history, its plethora of cultural institutes, its rich and varied culinary offerings and, most importantly, its unparalleled beauty, Urbino remains a secret to many outside of Italy, drawn more to the majestic and fabled cities of Rome, Venice and Florence. Yet, though she be but little, she is fierce—spend a couple of days in Urbino and, as you watch her disappear in the rearview mirror while you meander down the same slender roads you travelled upon to reach her, you’ll find all your stay nearly impossible to forget.
The light here is ancient, the chaos older still— buzzing across the Appian Way, but one of the every that lead to the city eternal, suspended, you can hear her muffled roars, traces of a hungry mouth with frazzled mane a cracked throat craving aqueducts defunct, now long dry and thistle crowned. What could appear as more bereft than landscapes of rubble, marble stripped and sun burnt, awaiting still another ravaging? Yet therein is her secret held: there remains in these fabled ruins, bequeathed to us as though our coming had been foretold, a quivering palpable beneath the footfalls of our approach waiting to be given voice and body— for a city is never completed, only inherited.
Poem by David Warren Grunner and Photographs by Nic Rue.
We had a lovely chat with Italian-raised, London-based photographer Claudia Guariglia about her love of the lens, her subjects and the general power of photography. You can see more of Claudia's stunning shots in issue 2 of Lodestars Anthology, due out in March next year.
What do you love about photography?
I like capturing instants. I love how photography makes it possible to freeze something as a picture and keep it forever. It’s just an image, but still whenever I look at it, it will tell me something about that particular moment of my life, what I was feeling, maybe bring to my mind something I forgot. Time scares me a little, somehow, and with photography I feel like I can stop it every now and then, and get to keep memories, both of important steps in my life or just those everyday little things that maybe made me smile, or simply stop and think.
Digital or film - which do you prefer and why?
Definitely film. I do like digital of course, it’s convenient and quick, and allows you to do all sorts of things that I cannot do with film (considering I don’t develop it by myself).
Still, the feeling with film is completely different. I wouldn’t know how to explain it. I've tried many times but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m just so much happier and satisfied with my film pictures as opposed to when I shoot digital, I feel like they convey better my own vision of things. There’s something romantic to it, like film could actually really capture the atmosphere of every different moment, and this is actually particularly obvious with polaroids, as the colors tend to change depending on the temperature in which the pics develop. So, if for example you’re shooting outside and it’s winter, you’ll get colder colours, and that’s such a nice touch to it. It just adds some more value to the picture.
Can you remember the first photograph you took?
Not really, but I remember that when I finally got my own first camera, I was about 12. I used to take a lot of pictures of clouds. And the sea. Not very original, for sure, but I was born and grew up by the sea so I always felt some sort of connection with it.
Before that, I used to steal my dad’s camera whenever we went out just to look through the lens and play a bit with it, but it was so heavy and I was so little. I don’t think I ever did more than just that.
What inspires your work?
It depend. What I like most is taking simple, natural pictures, true depictions of what surrounds me, so I’d say I’m inspired by everyday life. I love capturing light, and I like interiors, so I’m inspired by new places - other people’s houses and the different way natural light acts in different environments or times of the year.
I also like fashion, so sometimes I’m inspired by that. New clothes, shops windows, something catches my eye and I either just want to capture it or feel the urge to create something out of it. I don’t always follow the same pattern.
How would you define your style?
True, I guess. I like taking care of composition, I like looking for the perfect framing and the perfect light, but at the same time I want my pictures to look real, true. The pictures I usually like the most (which are not necessarily the ones other people prefer, it goes without saying) are the ones I didn’t even plan to take, and they’re usually film, so there’s no post production.
I like taking self portraits, so those are important to me as well, but I have a different approach when it comes to taking pictures of myself. I still try to convey what’s going on through my mind and in my life, but they’re, obviously, less spontaneous, there’s more work behind them. Still, what I always try to have in my images is simplicity.
What do you love to photograph most?
I like taking pictures of whatever catches my eye. What I love are details, tiny little things that would maybe normally go unnoticed. So whether it be a portrait, still life, or whatever, I try to focus on those little things: hand gestures, maybe the particular way someone sits, details in the window of a shop or house, that tiny crack on a mug. Photography makes me focus more on what surrounds me, and I always had the weird habit of noticing apparently useless things. Capturing them in an image makes the picture alive, it helps telling a story.
How does travelling influence your work?
I’d ask “how does my work influences travelling”, actually. I probably give too much importance to taking pictures while visiting a new place, some people might think I don’t really enjoy myself, that I’m too focused on photographing everything rather than living an experience, and maybe they’re right, who knows. But I think photography helps me take in everything I see when I’m travelling, especially if I’m alone. I love taking my time to observe everything, slowing down when I want to, shoot some maybe useless, maybe not, pics, and so on.
Travelling is so inspiring, you get to see places that look nothing like the ones you’re used to, meet different people, generally take in something that’s new and exciting, and that somehow changes and enriches you. If I had the chance I’d be travelling all over the world non stop, and possibly I’ll be doing so sometime in the future.
Have you taken a particularly memorable photograph while travelling?
All the photos I take while travelling are memorable for me as they obviously remind me of a beautiful and exciting experience. The most memorable ones though usually have little or nothing to do with the place I was visiting, rather they focus on what I was doing or who I was with.
This photo (click here) for example, is a pic I shot in Seville, and even if it was a couple of years ago I still like it and find it an important and memorable picture as it reminds me of a certain, not necessarily amazing but still important moment in my life. Yet, I could have shot the same picture anywhere. Same goes for other pictures I took in England, Scotland, or other places I’ve been traveling to. It’s totally subjective, completely personal.
What is your dream subject?
When I say 'if I had the chance I’d be travelling all over the world' I mean it, so I guess my dream subject would be the whole world? I know it sounds silly and very generic, but as I like taking pictures of real life. I’d love to be able to travel the world, meet people, visit their houses, maybe taking portraits of them in their personal spaces. Seeing something new everyday, stop every now and then in a cafè or a small restaurant, capturing and making mine everything around me, carrying around just a film camera. That would be simply amazing.
Where can we see more of your work?
I have tonnes of pics on my Flickr page, even very old ones no one would probably want to see. You can find them here. I also have a tumblr, that I try to update as regularly as possible and a small portfolio on cargocollective.
Passing through Italy, France and Switzerland and circling the mighty peak that is Mont Blanc, the aptly named Tour Mont Blanc is one of the world's great walks. Passing scenes capable of inducing wobbly knees, a mix alpine cottages, glacial remains, snow capped mountains and valleys that stretch into eternity, the walk, which takes a week to complete, is for those predisposed to wanderlust. Aided by a mule called Coco and fuelled by a diet of bread and cheese (the wine would prove too heavy to carry), my own venture around the mountain has been etched into my memory - the thick forests, mirror-like lakes and towns abandoned by time are not something you ever really forget.
Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. Truman Capote
I shall forever adore this sinking, art-loving Italian icon. Synonymous with art, food and all things truly excellent, Venice is the sort of place that almost shouldn’t exist. You know, because it is just too many shades of perfect. This is my photographic ode to a northern corner of Italy I shall love eternally.