Italy just turned 150. UNA VITA is a tribute to the Italians who lived half of its history.
Loosely, two lifetimes fit in 150 years. The first one extends from Italy’s unification in 1861 to the 1930s. The second from the mid-1930s to today. A person living in the second period has experienced a profoundly different Italy than one living in the first.
In the past 75 years Italy has changed radically. One of the biggest drivers of this change has been the heavy and ongoing migration from small rural towns to large urban centers. The Apennine mountain range that runs through the backbone of the Italian peninsula is sprinkled with beautiful historical towns that used to be the lifeblood of the country. Today no one wants to live there anymore.
In July 2011, my friend Veronica and I traveled across Italy to collect photos and stories from the last inhabitants of these endangered towns. We drove for two weeks, from Piedmont to Apulia, intentionally avoiding big cities, highways, and popular itineraries. We took backroads and country lanes, visiting towns that are rarely, if ever, included in tourist guidebooks. In these towns we came across the elderly of Italy.
We met a generation whose age roughly corresponds to that of Italy’s ruling elite but whose stories are profoundly different. We met ordinary people with extraordinary life stories. Stories of suffering and longing, daring and thriving. UNA VITA is a tribute to their lives and memories.