The Photography Legends That Explored 20th Century Abruzzo

20th century abruzzo

Our handy list of Italian and international 20th-century photographers who explored and captured Abruzzo so perfectly through their lens and the books to find their work where possible.

“The lens showed Scanno’s women as queens, living classical sculptures, who retain their individuality, but at the same time become icons”

Of course, artists never stopped painting Abruzzo, but as photography and cameras developed in the 19th century, the trend of less art and more photos began. At the turn of the century, members of the British School at Rome were interested in the historic and archaeological sites of the region. For Ashby and his associates, the camera was an important device to capture their finds. But they were also interested in the strong traditions of Abruzzo, something that had already disappeared in much of Europe. They felt it was their job to capture this too.

In the 1920s we see an artistic element coming into play with the beautiful pictures of Angelo Vetta, these images are not captured for science or history, but to express something of the people and their lives. As the decades roll on, we see many photographs made for guide books that remain clinical but accurate, and also the development of the artistic side of the craft.

Hilde Lotz-Bauer leads a stream of others (many of them more famous than her) to Scanno to catch a lost world with their lenses. People hone the art of ‘catching the moment’ and by the 60s & 70s we are seeing pictures by the likes of Pepi Merisio and Norman Carver that convey strong emotion as well as representing the people and places of Abruzzo. All this before the digital camera had been invented…


Peter Paul Mackey (1851-1935)

– Photo Date 1896
– Magliano de Marsi and Monte Velino

Magliano de Marsi and Monte Velino 1896 Peter Paul Mackey

Thomas Ashby : Viaggi in Abruzzo 1901/1923, BUY THE BOOK


William Harrison Woodward (1856-1941)

– Photo Date 1908
– Women of Scanno on the Way Home From Pratola Peligna

Thomas Ashby : Viaggi in Abruzzo 1901/1923, BUY THE BOOK


Thomas Ashby (1847 – 1931)

– Photo Date 1909
– The Livestock Market, L’Aquila

Thomas Ashby, livestock market, L'Aquila 1901

Thomas Ashby : Viaggi in Abruzzo 1901/1923, BUY THE BOOK


Angelo Vetta (1885 – 1954)

– Photo Date 1920s
– Monelli Abbruzzesi

Abruzzo e Molise by Vincenzo Balzano, 1927, BUY THE BOOK


Hilde Lotz-Bauer (1907-1999)

– Photo Date 1936
– Scanno

Orme di Donna 2012, BUY THE BOOK


Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004)

– Photo Date 1951
– Scanno

After the War was Over, 1985, BUY THE BOOK or  Europeans, BUY THE BOOK


Folco Quilici (1930 -2018)

– Photo Date 1960s
– A Woman of Assergi

Woman of Assergi



Mario Giacomelli (1925 – 2000)

– Photo Date 1957
– Scanno

Mario Giacomelli, Scanno, 1957

Photographs from 1954 TO 1984, BUY THE BOOK


Renzo Tortelli (1926 – 2019)

– Photo Date 1957
– Scanno

Visit his website for book details


Mario Fondi (1923-2012)

– Photo Date 1960s
– Portocannone

Abruzzo e Molise, 1970 (UTET), BUY THE BOOK


Pepi Merisio (1931 – 2021)

– Photo Date 1969
– San Pio delle Camere

L’Abruzzo nell’Italia di ieri, 2011, BUY THE BOOK


Norman F. Carver Jr. (1928 – )

– Photo Date c1970
– Castelvecchio Calvisio

Italian Hilltowns, 1979, BUY THE BOOK


Written by Peter Austin, Moderator on the LifeInAbruzzo Facebook Group

“Abruzzo fan and photographer for the last twenty years, I got in the region’s art, history, culture, and nature through being there and collecting books!”

Read Pete’s Other LifeInAbruzzo Posts

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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