Visions of Italia | Photography by Lisa Venticinque

Several years ago, I set out on an journey through Italy in order to explore my roots and bask in the splendor of what many consider to be the most beautiful land on earth.  In years past, I’d already fallen in love with Florence, Rome, and other places in the North, but I’d been waiting my whole life to explore the South, the fabled Mezzogiorno; after all, I have a seriously Sicilian surname and countless memories of my Calabrian grandmother proudly explaining away her hard-headiness (“We’re calabrese— we’ve always got that testa dura!“).  To visit the South felt like a calling.

For this excursion, my sister and I met up on the streets of Palermo and spent the next few weeks winding our way through some of the most remarkable terrain I’d ever encountered: the raw, natural beauty of the Southern landscape and its crumbling city structures; the romantic charm of the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri.  We zig-zagged from Naples to Rome and the surrounding Lazio countryside villages; through Tuscan fields and into cities that were the gems of the Renaissance; through Liguria and the areas around Cinque Terre.  Along the way we made many memories around wonderful people, amazing food & wine, laughter, random adventures, and a nonstop succession of breathtaking views.

Italy, like much of the world, is currently in a state of rapid flux.  Everything is changing, and quickly; the environment, the population, the culture, and the very concept of what is “Italian”.  However, beneath the surface of a changing Italy, it is the landscape that remains a clear and steady testimony to Italy’s essence, telling the story of the many generations of people (mostly laborers) that brought shaped to the country’s spectacular architecture, impressive city designs, beautiful works of art, cobblestone streets, and hand-crafted stone structures.  Even more evident and magnificent are the millennia of natural forces that formed the mountains, the sea, the dramatic skies, and the rolling green hills into the Italy so widely recognized and beloved.

Although my main passion and practice is portrait photography, through this project I recognized that Italy’s landscape tells a story that runs much deeper and more profoundly than the more temporal surface.   People, politics, culture, language, ethnicity— all of those elements are ephemeral compared to the stories made evident in the natural simplicity and grandeur of Italy’s beauty.  I hope that these images lead to you feel some of the sense of wonder and awe that I experienced as I traveled through the land that hasmoved my spirit and captured my heart.  

About the Artist:
I am a freelance photographer based in St. Paul, MN.  I hold a B.A. in Photography from St. Olaf College, and and M.A. in Media & Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London, where my focus of study was documentary media.  I have spent nearly two decades as a portrait and event photographer, and I have been privileged to have worked around the world.  Photography, travel, and people are my passion. and my life’s mission is to tell stories through my artwork.  I invite you to contact me if you’d like me to tell the story of you and your family through photography.

I am currently working on a major portraiture and research project exploring the origin story of the Sicilian surname Venticinque; literally meaning ‘twenty-five’, it is a rare and unusual name, and it carries an interesting and somewhat mysterious history.  The project is called #VENTICINQUE, and it is going to be fascinating.  I invite you to visit the project website and sign up for updates so you can follow along with me on the journey.

Professional Website for Portrait & Event Photography: