Li­ving in church

A FOR­MER CON­VENT IS THE HOME OF THE PHO­TO­GRA­PHER MAS­SI­MO VI­TA­LI. IF IT EVO­KES HIS IMA­GES, IT HAS TO DO WITH LIGHT AND SPACE.

AD (Italy) - - English Texts - words pho­tos MI­CHE­LE NE­RI — MAS­SI­MO VI­TA­LI

This de­con­se­cra­ted church from the 14th cen­tu­ry, in Luc­ca, is the home of Mas­si­mo Vi­ta­li, a lea­ding con­tem­po­ra­ry pho­to­gra­pher, and it re­minds us of his ima­ges, for one simple rea­son: it is a matter of light and space, of

reality and the di­fe­rent view­poin­ts nee­ded to por­tray it. Vi­ta­li was born in Co­mo in 1944, but has re­si­ded in Tu­sca­ny for 18 years now. He mo­ved in­to this house seven mon­ths ago, with his wife An­net­te Klein, a jewel­ry hi­sto­rian, and their son Ot­to, 16. The re­no­va­tion was su­b­ject to con­strain­ts, li­ke the need to con­ser­ve the ori­gi­nal open plan, and the con­cerns of the he­ri­ta­ge au­tho­ri­ties.

Was the choi­ce of this house in­fuen­ced by your pro­fes­sion?

«Yes, be­cau­se as a pho­to­gra­pher I need va­st spa­ces. Thanks to the stair­ca­ses, the box crea­ted inside, the win­do­ws that are not at a uni­form height, this house ofers many van­ta­ge poin­ts, di­fe­rent per­spec­ti­ves».

What do you know about the history of this church?

«The buil­ding is from 1364. In the pa­st it has seen it all. It was used by the Com­pa­gnia del­la Cro­ce, who­se mission was to com­fort pri­so­ners on the ver­ge of exe­cu­tion. It be­ca­me a church in 1760. La­ter it was re­pea­ted­ly ex­pro­pria­ted, but so­me things we­re con­ser­ved. Du­ring Fa­sci­sm it was a gym­na­sium. Af­ter de­con­se­cra­tion in the 1940s, it was bom­bed. Then it be­lon­ged to a Mi­ster Ros­si, and the gar­den be­ca­me a par­king lot. Then I ca­me along. I li­ked the big gar­den».

What is part of the re­no­va­tion you li­ke the best?

«I have ma­na­ged not to conceal the layers of time, from the inscription “believe, obey, fght” behind my bed, to the par­ti­cu­lar to­ne of the vault, bet­ween blue and gray, so Tu­scan in the eve­ning. To avoid tou­ching the walls I had to fght against eve­ryo­ne, the work­men, the ar­chi­tec­ts, my wife. I hid the elec­tri­cal sy­stem un­der the foor, behind pla­ster­board walls, nee­ded to erect the two in­ter­nal struc­tu­res».

The har­de­st part?

«The time re­qui­red for ex­ca­va­tion, inside and out. The pou­ring of concrete, the mon­ths of work on the gar­den. It took a year and a half: the ar­chaeo­lo­gists mo­ni­to­red eve­ry ope­ra­tion, sto­ne by sto­ne...».

The re­no­va­tion was done by the ar­chi­tect Pao­la Sausa of the Mo­mus stu­dio in Luc­ca. What was her most im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion?

«She found the si­ze for the three-sto­ry woo­den cu­be (con­tai­ning the master be­droom, a ba­th and ser­vi­ce spa­ces, ed.). The stu­dio al­so ma­na­ged to ex­plain the project to the he­ri­ta­ge au­tho­ri­ties. That’s the ad­van­ta­ge of wor­king with in­tel­li­gent lo­cal people».

The im­me­dia­te sen­sa­tion?

«Si­len­ce».

The strong point?

«Light. They knew whe­re to put win­do­ws in chur­ches. The light comes

from abo­ve, and mo­ves th­rou­ghout the day. The efect is ve­ry spe­cial».

Your son’s room is on a loft in front of the cu­be. No cei­lings, ju­st the vault of the church. Wa­sn’t that ri­sky, with a tee­na­ger?

«Yes, but it wor­ked, in the end».

For photographers home is of­ten a re­fu­ge to re­turn to af­ter long trips...

«For me it is mo­re than that: it is my fr­st real home, whi­ch I have cul­ti­va­ted, pre­pa­red and ow­ned».

I HAVE MA­NA­GED NOT TO CONCEAL THE LAYERS OF TIME, FROM THE INSCRIPTION “BELIEVE, OBEY, FIGHT” BEHIND MY BED, TO THE PAR­TI­CU­LAR TO­NE OF THE VAULT, BET­WEEN BLUE AND GRAY.

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