At first glance, Sirmione is a slender strip of land stretching for about 4 km into the waters of the southern Lake Garda. It's a small world born from the thaw of a glacier, standing firm against the erosive forces of nature. Described as the "pearl of Lake Garda" by the poet Gaio Valerio Catullo, it welcomes over a million visitors each year, drawn by the enchanting colors and magical atmospheres that have inspired poets throughout history. A visual imprint so profound that it has endured over the years, transforming a small fishing village into one of the most sought-after and photographed tourist destinations in just a few decades. This substantial volume of images often results from brief visits, spent over a weekend or just a few hours, shared with countless other lives and perspectives. Similar experiences inevitably lead to similar photographs.
Can photography be an effective storytelling tool in a place crowded with images?
I attempted to answer this question by exploring a different Sirmione, one that is more intimate and perhaps closer to the idea of beauty passed down by poets through the centuries. Over the course of two weeks, I collected the stories of its "guardians" of beauty: individuals deeply connected to Sirmione who, by choice or destiny, protect its historical, cultural, natural, or spiritual heritage. I observed them in their daily lives, and from their gazes and narratives, gratitude for a territory that captivates with every sunrise and sunset shines through.
Therefore, my visual synthesis is an attempt to provide a face to Sirmione while avoiding, as much as possible, the creation of a faded reflection of the original. Furthermore, my photographs aim to give credit to those behind the scenes, the caretakers of its beauty, the keepers of its stories and traditions, and the protectors of its vulnerabilities. To those who ensure this wealth can be shared, narrated, and photographed daily.
Custodi is also a book published by Municipality of Sirmione and Magnum Photos.