In 2015, Tuscany set the record as having the highest number of centenarians in Italy with as many as 1,500 individuals reaching the impressive 100-year mark. Inspired by this information, Giuseppe Della Maria created the Portraits of Tuscan Centenarians project, taking two years to learn about these long-living persons and their secrets to reaching the centenary mark. The rare opportunity to collect their life experiences was the motivation behind the project, emerging into a reconstruction of 20th-century Italian history. 

 

 

“I encountered stories such as a man who met Pablo Picasso, a noblewoman from Florence who met Gabriele D’Annunzio, centenarian twins from Lunigiana separated by the Second World War,” Giuseppe explained. “Then there were the farmers, miners, artisans, retailers, lighthouse keepers, partisans and fascists, evacuees and those who miraculously survived the bombings and the floods of Florence and Grosseto. What emerged was a miscellany of ordinary and extraordinary persons who were born and lived in Tuscany.”

 

 

Born and raised in Cagliari, Giuseppe has always been a keen photographer. Learning the basics in his father Attilio’s advertising agency, he subsequently specialized in society, sports, advertising and documentary photography. His day job is at Florence’s STUDIO G’ART44, where he provides a range of photographic, graphic and video services. 

 

 

“Each interview has been a journey in its own right and I listened to each individual’s life story as I photographed them. It was like taking a ride on the ‘train of life’, trading significant and sentimental moments from their past. The train stopped for a second to let me off and at that very moment of saying goodbye, I took the picture, in the dim light of the carriage, in an ambience reminiscent of Caravaggio’s paintings, with the person free to look either right at me or outside, towards the light.”

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