Amalia Sperandio’s Capture of Early 20th Century Life in Abruzzo

Abruzzo is famous for its citizens who have emigrated all over the world in search of work. Some return every year, others every so often and a few to retire.   Others return early when life gets in the way, with their children who were born far away. 

These super-talented individuals who are Abruzzesi by blood, yet not by birth assimilate and reveal a little more about why their parents first left at various epochs through history.  They are unofficial ambassadors and keepers of the region overseas.  One of the first of these is the fabulous, pioneering photographer Amalia Sperandio.

Born in 1855 in Corfu to an Abruzzese mother (from the village of San Marco di Preturo near L’Aquila) Amalia and her parents later moved to Napoli after the unification of Italy where they made a living as book sellers. 

When her father died Amalia moved back to San Marco di Preturo with her elderly mother. Times were hard, but the Leosini family supported her and she developed her photography skills.

If you have been to L’Aquila in recent years, you may have seen some of the many great photos taken by Amalia displayed in the streets, most notably Belvedere Amalia Sperandio

Taken between 1903 and 1916, these images are really evocative, that sensitively capture the harsh ‘real life’ of the poor, something very ahead of its time.  Amalia was quite a ‘blogger’.   She printed these as postcards and sold them too! About 200 of her photos exist, many featured in the 2018 book ‘Memoria e Diletto. Scatti inediti sull’Aquila e dintorni tra ‘800 e ‘900‘. Does anyone have a copy? Do you recommend it? Here are a few of my favourite photos from Amalia…

Peter Austin
Author: Peter Austin

A shed building, bass playing, wine drinking, mountain loving guy who adores photography and bought a home in Abruzzo 2 decades ago.

He's also an Associate Member of the Life In Abruzzo cultural association and moderator of the Life in Abruzzo private Fb group

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