Entry Title: "A Winter' s Tale"
Name: Mattia Vacca , Italy
Category and Expertise: Photo Essay and Feature Story|Deeper Perspective, Professional


Entry Description: In a green valley, amongst coniferous forests and alpine pastures, the village of Schignano embeds itself in the mountains that face Lake Como. One of the most ancient traditions of Schignano is surely the Carnival. The parade, full of allegories and symbols, depicts the farewell of the men, who have to leave village one again towards their migrant destiny. The Carnival sinks its roots in the past, when the men used to leave their homes and families for nine months a year, the end of the Carnival thus enacts the departure of the men and the solitude of the women.

Story: In a green valley, amongst coniferous forests and alpine pastures, the village of Schignano embeds itself in the poor mountains that face Lake Como. Few people live in the village, but they are happy and handsome, although their faces are marked by toil of country life, made of farming and handicraft, the only resources left after years of economic crisis. One of the most ancient traditions of Schignano is surely the Carnival, which is celebrated every year in a very peculiar, nay, unique way. Three are the main figures of this feast: ‘Il Bèl ‘, the handsome, wealthy and buxom character, who has made his fortune emigrating; ‘il Brut’, the ugly, the poor and unfortunate; ‘la Ciocia’, the only female figure, for ever tied with a rope to ‘il Bèl’, who with her incessant litany moans about her condition of slave. The Carnival period starts in December and ends on Shrove Tuesday, and walking around the tiny streets of the village one may run into the various masked figures. The feast culminates with the parade on Shrove Tuesday, when all the protagonists silently compete with the display of their clothes and their pantomime, each one trying to render and make the best of the spirit and tradition of the Carnival. The parade, full of allegories and symbols, depicts the farewell of the men, who have to leave village one again towards their migrant destiny. The Carnival of Schignano, in fact, sinks its roots in the past, common to many villages of the region, when the men used to leave their homes and families for nine months a year. They only took an empty suitcase with them, with the hope to be able to fill it up for the day of their return back home. The end of the Carnival thus enacts the departure of the men and the solitude of the women. A spontaneous festival, anarchical, with no rules nor written laws, that continues to live only thanks to the people’s spirit and to the artisans who cave the characteristic wooden masks.

About the Artist:

Mattia Vacca is a photojournalist and a documentary photographer. He graduated with a BA in Science of Communication and a MS in Cinema and Journalism. Since 2006 he covers daily news events in northern Italy for Corriere della Sera. His work has been pubblished on major Italian daily newspapers and internationals magazines. His work has been honored with numerous awards, including Sony World Photography Awards, Royal Photographic Society, Unesco Humanity Photo Awards, Renaissance Prize, New York Photo Awards, International Photography Lucie Awards, Foto 8 Summershow, Phodar Biennial, Hasselblad Masters.