There is something lovely that happens when you ask to take someone’s picture, instead of merely trying to capture a moment on the sly. Your subjects give you a permanent gift when their eyes meet yours, when they stop what they are doing to say ‘Yes’ to your request for a photo, when they give you their energy to take home as a memory, along with the bits of information stored digitally in the camera.

In the Summer of 2006 I spent 5 weeks in Siena, Italy studying Italian. I was fortunate to find a small apartment to rent on Via Montanini, one of the main streets down which the medieval parades would march day and night for weeks leading up to the world’s most famous horse race – Il Palio.

The energy in this famous and beautiful Italian city – thick with visiting Italians and tourists alike, the views and vistas around every corner one more breathtaking than the next, the piazzas and restaurants and bars packed with people, the weather perfect – was like nothing I had experienced in the States. It was impossible not to take photos of everything and everyone. I tried to inhale it all in, afraid I would never have the opportunity to go back and to see it one more time, or, if I did, that it would never be the same.

One day I went for a walk after lunch and these two beautiful girls, who worked in a restaurant, were on their break as I walked by. They said Hello and smiled and I stopped in my tracks. I asked if I could take their picture together, they said “Si,” cuddled together in the doorway and  lit up for l’Americana with the camera.

That moment changed everything for me on that trip to Italy and I tried, from that time on, to ask for a photo whenever I could – except of the statues, of course. (Well, those were silent requests, silently granted, and became some of my favorites).

A few days before I was to leave for the States I went back to Florence, a city I could never get enough of, then boarded a bus to Arezzo, where I had never been. It was blazing hot in Arezzo. I arrived during Siesta and the streets were fairly deserted. Except for a few elderly people peering out their apartment windows, and a gentleman sitting under the pines in a park. In the end I was glad to have arrived during Siesta. It seemed the few people I was meant to photograph showed up just for me. 

I have not been to Italy in 3 years now and I miss it. But the energy of the people I photographed on that trip has stayed with me. When I look at them I can hear the sound of drums in the streets, I can see the medieval colors of the Palio costumes, I can sense the vibration of horses hooves against the ancient cobblestones, hear children laughing and playing, imagine the men gathering to chat in the neighborhood piazzas at lunch.

I can hear the silence of the trees, of old men and women being alone, of cats and dogs being, well, Italian cats and dogs.

I can hear the music of Italy.

And how beautiful the word “Si” is, when I would ask, “Posso farle una foto?”

La vita e bella…

Have a lovely weekend, everyone,


#blogsofaugust   #Italy   #Siena   #Arezzo    pio dal cin Jack C Crawford Meg Tufano