Homage to Estella Canziani’s Abruzzi & Free Book Giveaway


One early C20th British writer & artist that I have always wanted to step into the shoes of is Estella Canziani, who visited Abruzzo in the summer of 1914 and bound her incredible impressions  of the region in her book Through the Apennines and the lands of the Abruzzi: landscape and peasant life.  One golden day I have promised I will treat myself to a first edition, currently in excess of $350+ on ABE!

In this day & age of innumerable online resources to aid our global wanderings, I am constantly amazed at Estella Canziani’s journey, deep into the mountains, winding up into small hilltop towns and onto Campo Imperatore. She joined the British Folklore Society in 1910 which no doubt piqued her curiosity and inspired her quest to “record legends and traditions before they died.” Even though she was with her Italian father on this trip to Abruzzo, in a region where dialect is still strong, you wonder how did they manage to travel and paint in the heat that can engulf late May through to ferragosto.

Like so many people today she was taken in by locals, who still remain famous for their hospitality and kindness.  It was never regarded as an imposition, a mind-set that even hunger, poverty, the horror of two World Wars and the social transformation brought about by a new digital age have still managed to thankfully leave unchanged.

Every time I re-read these words that she wrote it perfectly encapsulates how I feel, ensconced here in our little village, though obviously no longer peopled by peasants…

“The modern world was a far-away dream, and my thoughts dwelt on our present mediaeval surroundings, the amethyst hills, and the crimson sunset, and these simple peasants whose confidence we had gained and who were now our friends. Outside in the moonlight was the distant range of mountains, the faint whisper of the night breeze in the stone-pines, and beyond?”

A romanticised perspective perhaps, wilfully evading the wearying reality of Italian bureaucracy on daily life, but we can all shrug that off for a time when looking at dancing fireflies.

The Roman photographer Giorgio Marcoaldi and ever-so-lovely anthropologist Annunziata Taraschi, who was kind enough to lend us recipes from her highly recommended recipe book L’antica cucina teramana. Segreti, ricette, piatti della tradizione Contadina, have got together to step into Estella’s georgic footsteps and revisit her watercolours via photography in a new hardcover book Un Viaggio nel tempo Abruzzo.

View a slideshow of the book

This photographic journal over the last 20 years reflects on the natural and anthropological heritage of the Apennines that Estella conveyed nearly 100 years ago.  Giorgio visits many of the landscapes she captured, using the exact angle, horizon and light in over 100 shots in his book.  He meets contemporary examples of many of the traditional artisans that she described; how strange it is to view those when you have visited their studios. Annunziata dresses those who model in the footsteps of perhaps their great great grandparents as shepherds, mothers, grandmothers, widows and children.   As Annunziata says “not only do these images evoke the past but offer solutions that still apply today, showing us a new line of civil progression”.

The translation would have benefited possibly from a good once-over by an proof-reader whose first language was English, and perhaps leaving some of Estella’s English language texts & captions as they were without translating them twice, but the book is stunning and engaging, and would make the perfect companion to that elusive true first edition…

The book was launched with a small exhibition at perhaps Abruzzo’s smallest but most intriguing museum, the Museo delle Genti d’Abruzzo.

For those fascinated by the beautiful jewellery, charms and amulets against the evil eye that are worn across the region, and described wonderfully by Estella, it’s definitely worth making a visit to the museum, particularly as you can cross-reference with the examples on display there. The exhibited archive of photos also includes images of children still wearing these heavily superstitious protectors against all manner of evil, from the 1950s.

Un Viaggio nel tempo AbruzzoExhibition Dates

16 June – 20 July 2013,  Museo delle Genti d’Abruzzo, Pescara

10 August – 1 September 2013 Calascio (Aq)

17 August  7-8 September 2013  Castel del Monte  (Aq)

Buy Online

The book is available to buy for €20 plus shipping from CEMultimedia Edizioni di Roma

Win Un Viaggio nel tempo Abruzzo

To enter our free prize draw for an opportunity to win a free copy of ‘Un Viaggio nel tempo Abruzzo’, available to be shipped internationally, simply fill in your details on the form below.  The winner will be drawn 8th July 2013.

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Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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Ciao Chow Linda
8 July 2013 03:44

Thanks for posting this Sammy. I was doing a google search trying to find out more info about her and your post turning up! So glad you wrote about this. I would love to own that book.

8 July 2013 13:30

Pleasure Linda, she was such an amazing, talented women, when I return to the UK I want to visit Birmingham Museum and see her art in the flesh.

Carolyn Marrone
2 July 2013 11:46

I must commend cemultimedia for wonderful service! I wrote from Australia asking how I could obtain a copy of the book. My daughter is in Rome for a day and Emanuele Coppola delivered the book to her hotel in Rome, returning later to pick up the money at the desk. Exceptional! Dying to see the book!

Life in Abruzzo
2 July 2013 13:58

Wow,don’t you wish that everything was this easy?!

19 October 2021 16:39

I have the book and agree with everything you say about it, just beautiful in every way! My mother in law comes from that region of Italy and my husband wrote her biography “Beyond The Aterno” as we are so proud of her and her family roots! We just can’t get enough of Abruzzo and her amazing people! Keep up the good work everyone, Natasha

Sam Dunham
Sam Dunham
26 October 2021 21:30
Reply to  Natasha

Hello Natasha

I’ve just looked it up as I missed that one. It looks great! If you ever fancy writing a review of it as her impartial daughter-in-law and wife to the author do let us know!

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