Italy for Le Monde d’Hermès

Sean Rocha went to Abruzzo on assignment for Le Monde d’Hermès to photograph (and write about) the unusual wooden fishing platforms off the Adriatic coast known as trabocchi, which the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio had likened to giant spiders on the sea. The origins of these delicate, fantastical structures are obscure: some say they were brought by Sephardic Jews and others, looking further back, point to the Phoenicians; to Sean, they seem most directly related to the so-called ‘Chinese’ fishing nets in Cochin, India. For Hermès, a beautiful structure made of natural materials, respectful of its context, and serving the most elemental and essential of functions seemed very much in keeping with the spirit of the House.

Sean has been often to Italy, first visiting in 1992 and then more recently spending many months in Liguria and Emilia.  At various points, Italy had seemed like God’s land, with an island-chain density of cultural riches that speaks of the isolation of hilltop towns in close proximity and of the political rivalries that produced such competition in splendor.  Italy remains even now, many visits later, an essentially inexhaustible experience, though the rivalries are now as often about showgirls as about Caravaggios and its theatrical political culture, when viewed without a romantic’s glaucoma, can seem in need of divine intervention.

Click here to see the tear sheets of the article about the trabocchi published in Le Monde d’Hermès in Spring 2011. Outtakes from that assignment are belong, along with a selection of photographs from other visits to Italy.

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Trabocco at night, Abruzzo, Italy, photo by Sean RochaTrabocco supporting struts, Abruzzo, Italy, photo by Sean RochaTrabocchi perch like spiders on the rocks, Abruzzo, Italy, photo by Sean Rocha