Simona Guerra  

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Freelance Consultant on Photo Archives


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the japanese publisher hakusuisha has just published a japanese version of my book 

 tokyo  September 2014

The Japanese publisher Hakusuisha has just published a Japanese version of the book

“Mario Giacomelli. La mia vita intera”
originally published in Italy by Bruno Mondadori in 2008.

The work covers, in the form of a monologue, the significant stages of the of Giacomelli’s work through the story that he decided to tell in the last months of his life. The Japanese publication is a natural consequence of the interest and curiosity that Western and Italian photography has received in recent years from the Japanese market and art collectors..

For further information please contact:

マリオ・ジャコメッリ著、シモーナ・グエッラ編/和田 忠彦、石田 聖子 訳






SENIGALLIA/SCANNO 23 November 2013

Scanno Boy © Simone Giacomelli

© Simone Giacomelli


After 56 years the name of an icon in the world history of photography has been revealed: the “Scanno Boy” is a picture taken by Italian photographer Mario Giacomelli during a visit to the Abruzzo region.

The picture portrays dark and out-of focus women in an almost unreal fairytale atmosphere, walking towards the observer with only one single and central object in focus: a boy walking with his hands in his pockets.
His name is Claudio De Cola and on October 19th, 1957, he was exiting the Church of Sant'Antonio da Padova like the people around him, after the Mass.
Through several researches in the archives and in the town of Scanno I managed to meet the parents of the boy, who is now in his sixties and does not live in Scanno anymore. His recognition, confirmed by himself, was also done by his parents and by his mother Teopista in particular, who produced several other pictures of the boy providing unquestionable evidence that he was the boy portrayed by Giacomelli. 

But there’s more than that: the two women in the foreground were also identified and, unfortunately, they are now dead. The name of the lady on the right seems to be Paolina De Crescentis, while the lady on the left is Sapienza Fronterotta. The latter wears a traditional scarf, of the kind worn in Scanno to cover one’s mouth during mourning.

Comparisons of images
© Mattia Gallo (

Claudio De Cola's mother
© Lisa Calabrese

Although she knew the photographer’s name and other pictures taken by him, the boy’s mother said she had only heard about this shot and expressed the wish to receive a copy to keep it with her other family pictures. She then added that, like the “boy” himself, she could not remember the day when the photographer came, but she clearly remembered the crochet bonnet that she had made with her own hands, worn by her son in the picture.

In agreement with Claudio De Cola I decided not to disclose his appearance as it is now, as a sign of respect for Mario Giacomelli’s work. Portraying the boy, now a mature man, would mean to destroy the magic aura that his image has always radiated. The out-of-focus ladies, the irregular pavement and the boy, silently looking at us, feel somehow mysterious, even disturbing at times. I think the story of this picture is still concealing many elements, both technical and historical, but there is no need to unveil them all if we want to preserve them.

My research on this photograph is the object of a book that I will be publishing soon. Since the very beginning of my work, many times I have asked myself if it would have been more interesting to look for him or to find him. I chose to simply look for him. Indeed, this is what Mario Giacomelli has taught me: photography is a way of life, a way to taste things, to feel joy and sorrow. He was afraid of old age rather than of death. Why? Because dying is like finding: everything ends there.

© Mattia Gallo (

The parents of Claudio De Cola (Scanno Boy) and Simona Guerra
(© Mattia Gallo.

I went to Scanno to work on my own story and write it, and through the finding of the Scanno Boy I can say I have encountered my own life. Many lovely moments I have been given by the simplicity of people’s life there, by the friends who have accompanied me, by all those whom I found there to welcome me. In Scanno the people are still lighthearted and warm, even with a stranger like me, who knocked at each and every door of the town with a picture in her hand asking if they had ever seen that boy.


About Mario Giacomelli

(1925-2000) He was an Italian photographer. He spent his entire life in Senigallia, a small town on the Adriatic coast where he worked as a typographer in the historical typography Tipografia Marchigiana. He dedicated to photography only in his free time and was ironically nicknamed “Sunday photographer”. His shots are very famous and important in the world history of art and photography. While initially it was through his well-known landscapes that he gained fame in Italy, he later started to be renowned also abroad, in 1963, which is also the year when the photograph of the Scanno Boy was showed within the famous exhibition “The photographer’s Eye” at the MOMA museum in New York.

 The parents of Claudio De Cola (Scanno Boy) and Simona Guerra
on the stairs of the church of Scanno, nearby 
Giacomelli shot the picture, in 1957
(© Mattia Gallo.
Giacomelli in Scanno while photographing the place
where he realized the famous photograph - 1957

© Renzo Tortelli)


A special thanks goes to:

Michele Smargiassi; Lisa Calabrese, Mattia Gallo and Andrea Balerci (the authors of the photos); Claudio D'Alessandro; Enzo Gentile; Renzo Tortelli; Simone Giacomelli; The De Cola Family.


Dedicated to Andreina, from Scanno.
So that her son comes back as she would like him to;
so that her town can choose not to desert this mother.





[grafica e webmaster: Lisa Calabrese]

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