Hope boats in Lampedusa

Travel photography, photoreportage as an occasion for reflection.

I had the opportunity to visit Lampedusa island in the month of last October, and with the need to photograph a resort with my friend and good colleague Gianluca Lo Grasso, I also had the opportunity to spend some time on travel photography, something that was rarely used for various other commitments on different projects.

Since the days of the Mayor Giusy Nicolini, that is from the time of the first landings of the emigrants, I was intrigued by this small rocky island, knowing quite the opposite Tunisian coast, from Gabes to Cape Bon.

The news of the time recalled many episodes, more or less fortunate, between the landings that took place daily on the small stone tongue, and many times I tried to imagine the terror that women, men and children, people who often had never seen the sea before, they could try arriving at night on this coast, perhaps with the surf that pushed them on the rocks.

travel photography in lampedusa

The times have changed a bit since then, and the intervention of the NGOs to patrol North Africa has greatly diminished the danger of the trip, fortunately, even if to put a piece of institutional deficiencies has not been the best policy possible.

In Lampedusa today the phenomenon is much reduced, both because of the intergovernmental agreements with Tunisia, and also because of the displacement to the south of the migratory front, at the limit of the Libyan territorial waters.

lampedusa boat works

In the area of ​​the new port there is a large esplanade (this is the link on Google Earth), where the sailors haul fishing vessels and carry out their maintenance work on the hulls. Passing near, I was curious about this pile of shapeless shells, a real wooden and fiberglass mountain, of various colors, once vibrant and now faded.

Approaching to better understand, I see written on many spray-paint, C.P. and then a number, or C.C. number. And then, with Arabic characters, the names of the boats, some typical decoration, eyes, fish, moons, etc.

All these shells, some very small, less than 5 meters, have transported, piled up somehow, dozens and dozens of people, surviving the waves and the rocks in a sea of ​​ink.

lampedusa photography in travel

C.P. 324 …. the achronym of Harbor Master Office 324; C.C. 808, the achronym of Carabinieri Corps …… hundreds, thousands perhaps the hulls arrived on the cliffs, maybe at night, sometimes with the rough sea …. A small part now lies dead here, stacked in this common grave. More hundreds have already been disposed of ….

tourist destination photography

I can not avoid thinking of all that hulls missing from the appeal, their load of humanity, lost at sea somewhere between Kerkennah and Lampedusa. Thousands of people who dreamed nothing more than to be able to live.

A cemetery of boats is always something that puts melancholy in the heart of a sailor …. but in this case the cemetery of boats and the human one are tremendously close …

It consoles me to think that so many boats here, means that many have done it, and somehow have had a chance for their future. Travel photography is a way of knowing the stories and absorbing them intimately, often narrated by the protagonists and witnesses

fotografia reportage di viaggio a lampedusa fisherman

I hope that the next time I visit Lampedusa find time to stop with this sailor, and in front of a good glass can listen to the stories that certainly will have to tell.


foto © Gianluca Lo Grasso


All photos © Flavio Massari 2018

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