Mattia VACCA, Emanuela Mirabelli (text), Silvia GHERRA (Book Design)

A Winter's Tale

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"In a green valley, amongst coniferous forests and alpine pastures, the village of Schignano embeds itself in the poor mountains that face Lake Como.

One of the most ancient traditions of Schignano is surely the Carnival, which is celebrated every year in a very peculiar, nay, unique way. The Carnival period starts in December and ends on Shrove Tuesday, and walking around the tiny streets of the village one may run into the various masked figures.

The feast culminates with the parade on Shrove Tuesday, when all the protagonists silently compete with the display of their clothes and their pantomime, each one trying to render and make the best of the spirit and tradition of the Carnival. The parade, full of allegories and symbols, depicts the farewell of the men, who have to leave village one again towards their migrant destiny.

The Carnival of Schignano, in fact, sinks its roots in the past, common to many villages of the region, when the men used to leave their homes and families for nine months a year. They only took an empty suitcase with them, with the hope to be able to fill it up for the day of their return back home. The end of the Carnival thus enacts the departure of the men and the solitude of the women. A spontaneous festival, anarchical, with no rules nor written laws, that continues to live only thanks to the people’s spirit and to the artisans who cave the characteristic wooden masks.“ (free translated text, © Mattia VACCA)


"In una verde conca, tra boschi di conifere e silenziosi pascoli, incastonato nella montagna povera che si affaccia sul lago di Como, al confine con la Svizzera, si trova Schignano. La più antica tradizione di questo borgo senza tempo è il Carnevale. Lo spettacolo, ricco di allegorie e simboli, rappresenta l'ultimo saluto degli uomini al villaggio prima di ripartire verso il loro destino di emigranti. Il Carnevale di Schignano, infatti, affonda le proprie radici nel passato, comune a tanti paesi della regione, quando gli uomini abbandonavano la loro casa e le loro famiglie per nove mesi l'anno. Partivano portando con sé solo una valigia vuota, nella speranza di essere riusciti a riempirla per il giorno del ritorno. La fine del Carnevale decreta, così, la partenza degli uomini e la solitudine delle donne. Una festa popolare spontanea, anarchica, senza regole né leggi scritte, che sopravvive solamente grazie agli abitanti che la animano e agli artigiani che scolpiscono le caratteristiche maschere in legno." (© Mattia VACCA)

2015 Moscow International Photography Awards, 3rd prize category Documentary PhotoBooks / Russia
2015 IPA Int. Photogr. Awards, Honorable Mention category Documentary Photobooks / USA
2015 IPA Int. Photogr. Awards, Honorable Mention category Selfpublished Photobooks / USA
2015 PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, Honorable Mention category Documentary PhotoBooks / France
2015 Athens Photo Festival, Finalist Photobook Show / Greece

About the photographer (* 1978 in Como, Italiy):
Mattia Vacca is a photojournalist and a documentary photographer. He graduated with a BA in Science of Communication and a MA in Cinema and Journalism. He has been covering news events for the Italian national newspaper Il Corriere Della Sera for more than a decade.
His freelance work appeared on several national and international magazines and newspapers such as Il Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Indipendent, France Soir, Daily Mirror, BBC, Vice, Private Photoreview , Etiqueta Negra, Sette, Vanity Fair, Sportweek, Wu Magazine.
Throughout his carreer he has been awarded with numerous awards, including the Sony Photography Award, Royal Photographic Society Awards, Unesco Humanity Photo Awards Renaissance Prize, New York Photo Awards, Moscow Photo Awards and the International Photography Awards.


"'A Winter's Tale' ist ein Fotobuch über den Karneval von Schignano, in der Nähe von Como. Die Karnevalszeit beginnt hier im Dezember und endet am Faschingsdienstag mit einer Parade.
Mit dieser Parade wird an die Männer gedacht, die früher im Frühling für neun Monate auf die Wanderschaft gingen und Geld zu verdienen. Das Ende der Karnevalszeit inszeniert so die Abfahrt der Männer und die Einsamkeit der Frauen. Das Fest wird spontan und anarchisch angegangen. Die Tradition sichert Handwerkern der Region ihre Arbeit, die die Masken eigenhändig herstellen.

Mattia VACCA hat das traditionelle Fest, das weniger dem opulenten Karneval Venedigs ähnelt als der 'Alemannischen Fastnacht', in klaren Bildern festgehalten. Sie zeigen die zum Teil sehr ernsthafte Lust an der Verkleidung & Mummenschanz." (© Richard G. SPORLEDER)