Sometimes I have tried to tell how a village can die.
There are stab wounds of different kind that men inflicted over the time.
In these days, I wonder how the smell of summer sun is impregnated in the windows with broken glass in some abandoned street of our ancient wards, or how its intense light shines on the stones usurped by violent hands.I also think of all the dust that has accumulated on the memory of our Fathers when I browse the pages of Physics Appula of Manicone or those of Maso's Maselli's daughter.We preferred the cement, we were defeated by mildew and moth-eaten, we abandoned the shepherds, we no longer hear the noise of the mullet hooves.
But beauty has not left us yet, it has not run away forever.
It's there. It was small, sometimes even miniscule, but it still exists.
You can still touch it, you can spin around it, you can still see it scattered on a plain, you can smell it, you can also see it walking along the streets. With the beauty you can talk to, sometimes you see it wearing an apron sitting in front of the doorway, sometimes it blends water and flour. In some cases, you can see it singing, while sometimes it is doing its best to arrange something for everyone.
Beauty is silent. It's courageous. It resists.
Here is the story of Pasquale D'Apolito who decided to open his photographic studio at the gates of the historic centre of Vico del Gargano, in the heart of the Gargano National Park.
I can rip just a few words from his mouth, because he prefers to tell his story through his machine that always hangs on his neck, as if it were a natural appendage, and his backpack.
Pasquale took his first photo, when he was six with his father's Pentax MX analogue. His favourite subject was his grandfather. As soon as her father left home, he began to look into her drawers looking for the best photos to collect. That was not just a game, because, after finishing his studies, Pasquale went to the photo school John Kaverdash of Milan and then got a master degree at the Luz Photo Agency. He moved to Palermo committed to a collective of photo journalist. Then, he went back to Umberto boulevard in Vico del Gargano, ready to realize the idea of a studio, that day after day took shape and name: of 'Studio 28 mm, like his favourite lens, that forces you to be very close to the subject, in order to make a photograph, and makes you perceive every stretch, every wrinkle, as if one eye looked at another eye, grasping each element.
Photography for Pasquale is a source of happiness, as well as a continuous research and experimentation, and you can understand it when you look at him taking a picture. "It makes me feel alive and useful," he tells me.
This is the story that can be read behind a sign of a shop, a story that was born far away, and that has begun to write another page, orienting itself between the millimeters of a wide angle lens, ready to tell the beauty of our Earth. I feel a deep admiration towards those people like Pasquale, who decided to open a shop in a small village.
That’s true, a small village may die in different ways, but it is also true that it can try not to die.What stories make a country live? This story is one of those.
I think stories like this must be told, read and supported; these are the stories that celebrate the best part of us, the part that does not give up, the one who creates it. I think about the "artisans", in the broader and metaphorical sense of the term, of this area close to the sea, like Francis or Paul young carpenters, Pasquale and Vincenzo with their tobacconist in San Menaio, Andrea the blacksmith, Maria and her paintings, Leonardo and Martina with their restaurant, Ileana and her travel agency, and then Grace and Salt Room and others. Everyone with a name and with a story to tell.
I think about all of them and about the other stories hidden in the alleys of the Gargano, with the lights of the "always-lit" shops, like lighthouses in the middle of the sea, which in a thousand storms try to trace a course.
by Francesco A.P. Saggese