Like in a fairytale landscape


A personal tribute to the great Danish storyteller: Hans Christian Andersen

Walking, exploring, reading, travelling, photographing... all activities that have one thing in common: being enchanted by the world in its magical and enchanted appearances, with the eyes and heart of a child, always ready to be seduced by things simple, and from the narrative through which our soul interprets the world, which is never as it seems to us.

We must not even underestimate that we could be living in a great deception, it is a concrete possibility to take into account: in a world made only of appearance, the terms of real and unreal, real and fairy-tale, real and fantastic, could perhaps even interchange , and certain worlds dreamed of in myths and legends could be more "true" than what we today materialistically mistake for "reality and concreteness". Let us never underestimate this possibility, or perhaps it would be better to call it an opportunity.

For a few days I wanted to post this photograph, taken at the Cerreto pass, a suggestive view of the Lunigiana immersed in the fog after sunset, with this car stopping for a moment on the side of the road to admire a fairy-tale landscape on the border between two kingdoms, but I lacked the right poetic vein to frame it. Just today I came across these lines describing the very famous fairy tale writer Andersen, and that's when the spark went off, a thousand thoughts about the landscape and its narration were set in motion, immediately seeing a parallel, an affinity of content, between the words I was reading and the concept of travelling, photographing, imagining, and this photograph seems to me to touch on all these themes.

I quote Knud Ferlov, professor of Danish, in his preface to the Italian edition of Andersen's fairy tales published by Einaudi in 1954:

"Andersen himself says of his fairy tales: they were in my mind like a grain, all it took was a breath of wind, a ray of sunshine, a drop of bitter grass, and they blossomed. Andersen, tireless traveller, guest of the European courts, of the noble Danish castles, a migratory bird never satisfied with exotic birdseed, he fed on all literatures and all landscapes. [...] The various aspects of the countries he visited come to life in his books: Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Scotland, the East; but the roots of his poetry are in Danish land, he is perhaps the most Danish of all writers. Deep down in his heart he will always keep the world of his childhood, [...] the source of his poetry always remained that fantastic world that revealed itself to him when, as a child, he listened, during long vigils, to the stories of poor people. Andersen's greatness and originality derive largely from his faith in that world of ghosts which express the fears and hopes of life [...].

In a certain sense, Andersen is the first of the impressionist writers. Often, neglecting syntax, he lets voices and disjointed sounds speak. But in the midst of that noise, the profound words of the Danish soul can be heard, similar to a song. [..]

It is an indefinable complex [...] characteristic of that small town on the plains, without pronounced profiles, where color almost does not exist, but shades dominate."

And all this discussion also adapts very well to a certain way of taking photography and looking at the world around us, in always trying to capture the magic of places, and interpret them through the enchanted and suggestible eyes of the child within us, and through a heart always filled with our oldest and most sincere emotions.

Photographing is ultimately a narration of the world and a narration of ourselves, a search for one's own truth and identity; taking photographs is an enchantment but, above all, it's to be enchanted.

And to conclude on the subject of narration and photography, I always use the very apt words of Knud Ferlov: "Because Andersen is not only a great enchanter, but he is also a great sage, whose philosophy can greatly benefit our time. Tagore was not wrong, when visiting Danish schools he said: Why do you have so many subjects? Only one would be enough: Andersen".