Photo Essay

On the Streets of Italy

Caring for Grandchild

As an American writer and a passionate amateur photographer, shortly after I moved to Italy, I got caught up in watching, writing about and photographing Italians interacting with family members and friends within their community. Looking at every image in this essay, I not only see traditional and non-traditional role playing, but relive the back-story associated with each. I hope by sharing those stories, along with what I see in each shot, will enrich your unique interpretation of all of them.

Just before I captured Three Women in Marta (a lovely little village on the southern shore of Bolsena Lake) these women stood facing each other and talking expressively, as the smells of good Italian home cooking wafted above. I've come across similar scenes in other Italian villages, where women are busy doing or taking a break from their traditional household chores.

I snapped Main Street in Monte San Savino (a charming village atop a hill dominating the valley of Esse torrent in Tuscany) just before a downpour. This shot speaks to me of all the times I've seen groups of elderly Italian men socializing, women friends shopping and touring together, and loving couples who've been together many years.

The image of Mother and Daughter in Spoleto (one of Umbria's most beautiful and historical towns) makes me smile and tugs at my heart in more ways than one. The adorable little girl loved posing for me and showing off her outfit and the mother was delighted that I wanted to take pictures of them. I so enjoyed watching these two lovingly interact before asking if I could photograph them. For me they represent the best of relationships between mothers and daughters and bring to mind the special bond I have with my daughter.

Break with Children I captured while exploring a street in popular Cortona, where much of "Under the Tuscan Sun", both the best selling book and movie, takes place. In this shot a father is spending a playful moment with his kids during a break from work. Time and again I've witnessed and captured Italian fathers joyfully playing and snuggling with their children.

Volterra Contrast speaks to me of the unsettling contrasts within this Tuscan hill town, as well as traditional and more modern roles. There's the affectionate couple with their child and then the solo father with his kids. Not sure what to make of how the single dad is pushing the stroller. Is he being playful or begrudgingly spending time with his kids? Is he in fact a single dad or just giving his wife a much needed break?

I snapped Caring for Grandchild on my way back from a long walk in San Rocco, the small Tuscan village where my husband and I currently live. Of the gender role playing I've witnessed in Italy, I'm most surprised and delighted by the number of grandfathers out and about having fun with their grandchildren. Without a doubt it helps keep grandpas young and gives added stability and love to the grand-kids.

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9 responses

  • eithne mythen

    eithne mythen gave props (2 Sep 2009):

    love this essay and how your thoughts add so much to the shots, voted..

  • Kim Bullock

    Kim Bullock said (2 Sep 2009):

    Wonderful photos and essay. So wish I could see some of these places for myself!

  • Fred Downes

    Fred Downes said (2 Sep 2009):

    Wish my snapshots could look like your photographs - or at least something like them. Add the descriptions in the essay and it is twice as great.

  • Dinendra Haria

    Dinendra Haria gave props (2 Sep 2009):

    Lovely essay and great photos. Gets my vote.

  • Rob Roy

    Rob Roy (Deleted) gave props (3 Sep 2009):

    Great essay and photo collection, Deb!!

  • Judy Wanamaker

    Judy Wanamaker (Deleted) gave props (15 Sep 2009):

    I love the way your essay answers questions that would have been asked about the people in your splendid shots. I think this one should be published, Deb. voted.

  • Joy B

    Joy B gave props (18 Sep 2009):

    Love your essay! I love your emotional connection to the people in your photos - it shows in the way you take the photographs.

  • Karen Foto Fiddler

    Karen Foto Fiddler (Deleted) gave props (26 Sep 2009):

    Voted yes! Your story gives such insight!

  • Michaela K.

    Michaela K. gave props (12 Oct 2009):

    my vote

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