An American in Italy

The Photography of

Julia Sapir

All the photographs and texts are copyrighted

During the year I spent in Italy I ate about a kilo of pasta per day and took a lot of pictures. These are all street roving pictures that wander across from Venice to Bologna and on down to the south of Italy, to the region of Basilicata where my good friend of Italian heritage claims her roots in the towns of Melfi and Barille.

I lived in Bologna on Via San Vitale. By ordinance of the city all of the buildings in the old center were painted shades of ochre and rust like the blood of oxen that glowed in the sun.

Russet buildings led to the University that I attended when the weather was fair but not too fair.

Most of the time I wandered the streets....

and watched the kids.

Carnival lasts a month in Italy, from Twelfth Night to Martedi Grasso and the beginning of Lent. During that month shop windows are filled with cakes and sweets. Explosions of confetti appear on doorsteps, along the streets, and in the piazza. The festivityís climax occurs during the last week of Carnival in street parties and masquerades, wine, and revelry until Martedi Grasso. After that things somber up a bit and get dull for awhile until Easter. Venice is famous for its Carnival Celebration. Even the pigeons wear masks and ball gowns and the music plays on for weeks.

I went south for Easter into the mountains of Basilicata. In the town of Barille the Easter Celebration begins on Good Friday as a procession recreating the passion of Christ parades through the streets. Pious members of the community are chosen each year to represent Christ, Mary, Judas, and other characters that figure in Johnís book and they march down the streets of mourners.

Roman soldiers led the shackled Christ under his crown of thorns past three points: Christís fall, his encounter with Mary, and the mounting upon the cross all accompanied by the dolorous music of a funeral procession.

Towns in the region of Basilicata are perched on the tops of hills. Built into one side of Barille are wine cellars, each belonging to a different family, each with a different color door......

...from the roof top of the cousinís home we watched the snow fall on one horizon and the sun shine on the other.

Seven More!

The Sassi di Matera were inhabited up until quite recently. Now they are abandoned by all but a few slow moving tourists and winter weeds. Libera is on the right. She and her husband Enzo guided us through the ancient streets and then refused to let us buy them lunch.

It was the afternoon in Venice during carnival time. I was sitting on the steps of the train station, squinting in the sun. This kid was running around like mad in a bear suit until his dad finally nabbed him and hauled him off.

Venice has miles of narrow streets to lose you, and by this time I was irrevocably gone. I just remember the burnt color of the building against the sky and the washline three stories up.

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