A journey of the soul, a journey of the gaze that stops spellbound in front of the sacred images of the Oltretorrente district. Niches of devotion and faith where you don’t expect them and which move you with their intensity: each month symbolized by a different photograph, the Madonnina close to the Child in Borgo Parente, on the February page; the blue sky of Mary’s dress in the fresco at the end of via D’Azeglio, which stands out against a fuchsia pink wall, to seal the month of May; Father Lino walking, bent over and covered in snow, in the bronze statue in Piazzale Inzani, right on the first page, a symbol of a faith that never stops, in the rigor of his commitment to others.
The photographic calendar created again this year by Gabriele Tridenti, obstetrician-gynecologist at the Santa Maria Nuova hospital in Reggio Emilia, specialized in youth problems, but also a passionate photographer, in love with his neighborhood, is entitled «Devotion in Oltretorrente». ‘Overstream. “Why do I do this? Out of a sense of belonging to this community “de dla da l’acqua”, where I live, because I really like taking pictures, because I observe the world with curiosity», explains Tridenti. «At the beginning – he continues – I wanted a calendar that reflected the succession of the seasons, and the photo was always taken in the corresponding month. Now, year by year, I want to document an aspect, landscape, artistic or social, linked to the neighborhood».
Month by month, the story you don’t expect and that Tridenti reveals with delicacy and absorbed silence, debunking many clichés on the Oltretorrente of drug dealing, pushers, dirt. The love portrait of the neighborhood speaks through anti-rhetorical images and tells of silent steps in the streets marked by sacred images, of villages where you just need to look up to feel protected by cherubs and little angels on the walls of houses in the colors of rainbow. A dialogue with the sacred, welcoming and simple as the neighborhood is. From the mural bas-relief in Borgo Grassani, in January, with the warm tones of the earth of Siena to represent the supernatural, to the Lourdes grotto behind the chapel of the Ospedale Maggiore, with the flowers of devotion left by the patients, in March, at the vigil of Easter in Annunziata, with the crowd of believers in the soft and welcoming light of the evening, in April, up to the statue of Sant’Antonio, also in Annunziata, to which a believer turns trustingly opening her arms, in June: here are the places a little ‘ secrets frequented every day by the inhabitants, perhaps with the distracted gaze of habit and everyday life, but which Tridenti makes us discover as unexpected and dazzling gifts. Page after page, we stare in amazement at the Madonnina of Borgo Carra, destroyed in the Fascist land reclamation, which is now in the church of Ognissanti, symbolizing the month of August, so shiny and white in the summer light, the dress flying in the wind and the Playful child, or Giotto’s Maria, now in the church of Santa Croce, “saved” from a destroyed village whose memory has been lost, but who still lives thanks to the image of the month of July.
Precisely beyond the stereotypical images of the Oltretorrente, beyond the easy rhetoric of degradation: no, Gabriele Tridenti gives us back a neighborhood with a hidden sacredness, but willing to reveal itself to the attentive gaze of the photographer and ours. In Borgo Guasti di Santa Cecilia, a Madonnina appears behind the grate, almost veiled, observing and embracing all passers-by (September). And then the end of the Orthodox mass, in the church of Santa Maria del Quartiere, in November, in which a woman seen from the back converses with the priest, under the protective gaze of Mary and the Child.
Duomo de d’la da l’acqua
A declaration of love for the Oltretorrente cathedral: the Annunziata church closes the calendar with the month of December, celebrated with the Crib. Simple and without frills, as colorful as those made in the houses of the neighborhood at Christmas: Mary and Joseph staring at their Son, the miracle in their eyes and in ours. Gabriele Tridenti gives us all of this back, without frills and with truth. And with his images he returns to the Oltretorrente-and its city-sacredness, history and wonder.
Devotion in Oltretorrente Some images taken from the calendar of Gabriele Tridenti, gynecologist and great photography enthusiast. Below, the author, who lives in Oltretorrente.