Proud, hard working, honest people still work terra firm on the isle of Sicily. Not many as before, but I've been lucky to have found one such family years ago. This has been a deeply personal project for me during the last 27 years of my life and every trip to my ancestral homeland, I travel with them and photograph what they do best, which is cultivate nourishing food from this area of rich, mountainous volcanic soil. Yes, they now have modern day rotor tillers and use jeeps instead of mules to traverse the one lane gravel road, void of guard rails, and you can see clearly that within the hills deep crevices there are large spiny cactus plants sprinkled throughout. It is a white knuckled, extremely bumpy ride to reach the property, but among the crumbling rock terraces their farm still thrives and produces food that they sell in the markets of the small villages below, and most of the work is still done by hand.
My camera has been documenting this rural and simple way of life that will and has been changing for years. The people who have been living and pulling the fruits from this terrain are named: Giovanni, Mario, Maria, Giuseppe and Francesco. These are only the few I've met, and two of these souls have departed from this earth since my last visit. Mt. Etna looms in the distance, the Sicilian sun filters through the fruit and olive trees and the air smells fresh and earthy. It is a place where I feel most comfortable. Tracing back my family history, I've been able to discover that it has been since the early 1700's that my ancestors have farmed these same rolling hills. My mother has told me countless stories of the olive harvests and all the elderly remember the beautiful horse my father had.
This families small piece of countryside or "campagna" is unique in that among the terraces is a huge plateau where they have fruit trees, animals and vegetables. Maria is now a hearty 77 years old, and about as tall as I am! I looked at her massive hands covered with dirt as she was unearthing red onions from their underground home and asked her if she ever wore gloves. She said "no" for they were to much of a nuisance. As she bent over once more to continue with her task, I asked her if her back ever bothered her. She stopped working, stood straight and said with a large smile, "Sometimes."
Just a few short weeks ago I returned and these are some of the images I've managed to freeze in time.......
Maria was a treat to photograph and the onions she gave me to cook with were absolutely delicious. I wish her continued health and happiness at doing what she loves to do!
She loves her chickens and they run freely around the property. Not sure if I would grab one like she does here.
All Images have been registered with the
Copyright Bureau. © 2012 Santa Fabio
No Reproduction Rights Granted.
The air is refreshingly clean and with delicious fruit dripping from trees waiting to be picked.
My favorite fruit has always been figs.
This rustic way of life is vanishing. Not many of these hearty souls remain to farm the rich soil. The evidence is that most of the ancient rock terraces that have been built are now falling prey to the elements and the once sculpted terraces are melting into the hills and the terrain is reverting back to it's natural state.
Except for here!
Images taken with a Nikon D800
© Santa Fabio
Detroit People & Commercial Photographer