Enrico Milanesi has recently published a photographic project online which was situated in and dedicated to Fontecchio Terme, an ancient thermal bath complex which has been active since Roman times (since the time of Plinio il Giovane), only a few kilometers away from Città di Castello.
Thanks to the therapeutic properties of the sulfuric water, “Il Bagno di Fontecchio” encountered a remarkable growth – economical, touristic and naturalistic – during the second half of the 20th century, even if the main building dates back to 1868 based on a project by the architect Guglielmo Calderini. The pool portrayed in the photo was built in the ‘50s. It was the first one in Città di Castello.
Enrico, why the Terme di Fontecchio?
«Because a little bit like everyone who is from Città di Castello, especially those around my age, I’m attached in some way to this place, by its unique romanticism and the naturalistic beauty in the first place. I have personal memories: I think of when the hotels of the town were filled with people who would put on their bathrobes and go directly to the thermal baths. It would have been nice to do a photo shoot of that too».
How did the project originate?
«I’ve had it in my head for a while. Then towards the end of December I had a bit of free time and I dedicated myself to taking pictures.
It has been a walk in total tranquility with the camera in my hands. I also wanted to have a particular weather context, a particular kind of misty atmosphere. Because the mist softens everything, it hides and it creates mystery».
Mystery, ancient beauty or hope of a new birth: what did you want to communicate?
«The shots have been taken, willingly looking for a sort of decadency, of ancient beauty, just following a vintage style that could even create emotion, thanks to the post-production work. I’ve followed my main idea, that is, taking pictures of the local reality which is closer to me. Honestly I wanted to communicate a sensation of “abandon full of hope”.
Right now Fontecchio is a place that has fallen into disuse but still beautiful, and could always bloom again».
I know it could sound like a question that is too broad, but you, who have lived the transition from analogic to digital, how do you see photography today?
«For me jumping on the digital train has been very important, it’s been like discovering a great resource, in fact I’ve never left it. In the end Photoshop was the dream of the analogic operators of the past. The risk is that everything flattens itself, that photography flattens itself.
Sadly, looking around, I see little capability of critique and few artistic paths; there isn’t much desire to create a photographic story. Sometimes it’s better to have a bad picture and a good project rather than vice versa».
Are you inspired by anybody in particular?
«Not really but I have clearly impressed in my mind the works of photographers of international caliber, such as Vasco Ascolini, Monika Bulaj and Ferdinando Scianna. They are authors that I’ve had the pleasure and the honor of meeting during my experience at “Citerna fotografia”. They achieve photographic results with staggering naturalness and talent».
Enrico Milanesi was born in Città di Castello in 1952; he’s divided his life between his job at the bank and the one as a photographer. Being associated with the Centro Fotografico Tifernate since 1980, of which he’s been president for 30 years, has helped him to cultivate his photographic stimulations. He’s active in both artistic photography and retrospective investigation, since 2000 he’s been the promoter of the online photo bank of Città di Castello (www.archiphoto.it). Since 2009 he’s started a photography festival in Citerna which is now one of the main and most original ones in the national photography panorama: Citerna Fotografia. He’s published several photographic books, such as “Industrial archaeology in the Tiber river upper valley”, “Gardens in the air”, “Eternal immigrants or new citizens”, “Urban dance” and “Hugging the Crucifix”.