Reportage photographer and writer, born in Italy, 1981. I have been working on social, environmental and conflict issues in Egypt, China, South America and Ukraine. Shortlisted at the Sony WPO Award 2013, Travel PRO cathegory. Available for assignment worldwide, on short notice.
The Donetsk Psychiatric Hospital number 1 is located in the district of Petrovsky, close to one of the frontlines in the armed conflict between Pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces that surround the city of Donetsk.
In early December the building came under artillery fire, and many of the windows have been damaged. The clinic is now dealing with cold winter temperatures, down to -25°C, and with shortages of food and medicine.
Doctors in the hospital not only check on the patients’ mental conditions; they are constantly working alongside patients and staff to heat the hospital, making sure no one is exposed to the severe cold. Empty rooms are filled with dry wood, and patients and staff alike work round the clock chopping wood and feeding fires.
The current situation is dramatic, as the administration does not have funds to repair the infrastructure and relies on donations from the church or private citizens. Many of the patients do not have the option to leave; some face too serious complications, while others do not have any relatives that can take care of them.
The ceasefire that started on December 9th has recently collapsed, and fighting has resumed between the two sides. Grad rockets and mortar shells are again falling close to the hospital and the people living inside.
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The town of Dali lies on the banks of the Erhai lake, at the center of the Chinese province of Yunnan. Dali’s Old Town district can be dated back to the fourteenth century, the time of the Ming dynasty. It holds the ancient city wall and traditional houses that are typical of this Chinese region.
In the first half of August, the local Yi and Bai minorities celebrate the Torch Festival to commemorate Atilaba, a legendary character who, according to local beliefs, drove away locusts using torches made from pine trees. It is the largest local festival, and each minority celebrates it on a different day, according to its own calendar.
Most of the people here celebrate with their families. Family members gather for a big dinner before taking the traditional walk on the streets holding torches. Restaurants and hotels prepare for this day by buying huge food supplies to serve thousands of tourists who come to Dali to attend the rituals.
People in the Old Town start their day very early to prepare for the Torch Festival. Street vendors set up their stands at six in the morning to serve the huge numbers of customers.
Pork and chicken butchers slaughter animals brought from the countryside, letting blood run copiously to give a scene that some might not be able to stomach.
By nine in the morning markets and streets are bustle with people selling and buying food, toys, decorations, and torches for the celebrations that will start at night.
A huge number of tourists, both Chinese and foreigners, contribute to the confusion and make it a challenge to walk the streets of Dali on this day.
The smell of all kinds of food starts to spread everywhere, and it is difficult to avoid stopping here and there to have a taste of some local snacks while waiting for the sunset.
As soon as it gets dark the locals leave their homes and light up the big torches they have set up right in front of their doors, or dance in circles around bonfires in the town’s main squares.
Others walk down the road and, following the tradition, hold small torches while throwing a mixture of sawdust and pine resin at other people’s torches to start a flare. This is a way to wish friends and relatives well; throwing resin powder on an old man’s fire symbolizes wishing him long life and good health.
Nowadays the rituals have changed. The younger generations probably got bored with the ancient celebrations, and decided to add their twist. They run around town with bags full of sawdust and take people by surprise by throwing it on their torches to create a flare and scare them.
They indiscriminately attack friends and strangers, and the festival suddenly turns into a of street battle between teenagers. Luckily, flames subside quickly and do not harm those who fall victims to the teenagers’ pranks, even if they might look on fire.
A large number of policemen and firefighters stand by on the streets to keep the situation under control and make sure youngsters do not go too wild. As soon as they leave, though, the game starts again and goes on till late, especially in hangouts like the Bad Monkey. A group of foreigners got together there to enjoy the festival – they got drunk and lit up the road in front of the bar during the whole night.
In the suburbs of Cairo ain't difficult to see wooden towers rising above the buildings. They are huge bird cages, where some locals breed and feed their pigeons. These men train their fowls, in order to command their flight with a flag, and teach them to perform tricks at the sound of a whistle. From time to time the breeders challenge each other : the aim of the game is to "steal" birds from the rival's flock, when the pigeons are flying.
This series is a portrait of another side of Cairo, a gaze into the daily life of the suburbs of this city, that goes on beyond the revolution and the politics. These pictures have been taken by chance an year ago, when working on a different project, and they gave me the idea for a this new story, that I plan to complete during this summer.
Pictures from the bus,along the road that follows the NuJiang Valley in Yunnan, China, which is the most remote of the Three Parallel Rivers that make up the homonymous UNESCO reserve.
The NuJiang is a river that springs from the Tibet plateu down to Yunnan, and later on to Myanmar (Burma where its name changes to Salween. Here it marks the border with Thailand and then flows into the Andaman Sea.
It's one of the longest undammed rivers in the world, and it's part of the Three Parallel Rivers reserve, a UNESCO Heritage site that includes also the YangTze River and the Mekong (which chinese name is Cang Lang).
It's one of the places with the richest biodiversity in the world, and it's home of 7 out of the 26 ethnical minorities that live in Yunnan.
Human development and tourism are greatly endangering the area, that is also target of a dam project even bigger than the one realized at the Three Gorges, in the Hubei province.
Here is a series of pictures taken from some of the minibuses that everyday travel up and down the valley, from the bottom town of LiuKu up to BingZhongLuo and QiuNaTong.
The places and the faces of this forgotten valley, a road trip into a traditional China that is slowly disappearing.
A spent cartridge of a 100mm anti-tank gun was found in the fields close to the hospital. It is now used as a flower pot in the office of Dr. Vladimir Ivanovich.
One of the hospital's patients stares out a window while a nurse helps him to eat. This man died a few days before New Year's Eve, at the age of 36. Doctors said that for people with his condition it's a miracle to survive for such a long time.
One of the doctors sits in his office, where several beds have been placed after the shelling. Part of the windows exploded, and at the moment the hospital has no money to repair them. With temperatures falling below -20°C, the situation is becoming more difficult than ever.
Patients smoke on the hospital's enclosed balconies.
Stas, a patient at the hospital, cries because he wants to go back home. In his life, he has been in a psychiatric institution several times, but in the last decade he has lived a perfectly normal life. Since the war started, his conditions worsened again, and he had to be re-hospitalized.
The locker containing the hospital's medicine is half-empty, as at the moment the hospital is lacking the funds to resupply with drugs.
Dr. Valentina Alexandrovna, together with a nurse, visits patients in their room, where the window has been repaired with plywood. Because of the cold, many patients wear heavy clothes and caps even when indoors.
A view of the chapel of the hospital. The windows have also been damaged in this room, and at the moment there are no funds to repair them. With outside temperatures falling below -20°C, it's impossible to celebrate mass.
A volunteer hairdresser gives a haircut to one of the patients, while others wait for their turn in their beds.
A view of the field facing the entrance of the hospital. During shelling that took place in December, grass and trees have been completely burned. Some of the Grad rockets also fell very close to the hospital, damaging the structure.
A patient smokes on the balcony of his ward while looking out from the grating. Cigarettes and matches are kept by the nurses, who give them to the patients at scheduled times.
Patients eat their lunch in the main room of their ward. The hospital is also have food-supply problems, as funds are very scarce. It mainly relies on the local church and private citizens who help as much as they can.
One of the patients wears gloves while sleeping in his room after lunch. This is part of the daily schedule for patients, and it's very important for them to follow it, as it helps to keep them stable.
A patient stares into void in the darkness of his room, illuminated faintly by the flashlight of a doctor who is checking that everything's alright. The window, which was damaged during the last shelling, has been repaired with some plywood and a blanket.
Doctor Vladimir Ivanovich checks the stove that is used to heat the ward under his responsibility, while a kettle is heating up. During the colder days all the patients can be seen sitting around the stove, warming up their hands.
A patient brings a pot filled with food to her ward. Everyday some patients can go to the kitchen building, together with a nurse, to pick up their lunch. It's one of the few moments when patients are allowed to exit their wards.
The wall surrounding the hospital has been partially destroyed by shelling that hit the area in late August and again in early December 2014. The roof of the kitchen is now gone, and the main building has also been severely damaged, with destroyed windows and scars from shrapnel.
Patients cut wood, taken from the trees that fell during the shelling. Several hundreds of kilos of wood are stored in one of the rooms, and are being used for the stove that heats up this part of the hospital.
One of the corridors of the hospital has been filled with beds after shelling destroyed the windows in many of the rooms, making them unusable because of the cold.
Doctor Yevgeniy Ivanovich, director of the hospital, looks out his office window.
A view of the park outside the hospital, covered with snow. In January the temperatures fell sharply, and the situation for both nurses and patients became more and more difficult.
A young man during the Torch Festival celebrations in a public square at the center of Dali throws pine resin on his torch to make it flare .
Tourists light their torches in front of the Bad Monkey bar at the center of Dali.
Tourists and locals dance around a fire during the celebrations for the Torch Festival in Dali.
A man throws pine resin dust on his girlfriend's torch during the celebrations for the Dali Torch Festival.
Two friends light up their torches from a bonfire in the the street during the celebrations for the Dali Torch Festival.
A young man is wrapped in flames after his friends threw pine resin on his torch.
A young man plays with fireballs attached to chains on the streets of Dali's Old Town, creating a spectacle for locals' and tourists' cameras.
A young boy holds a lit torch during the celebrations of the Dali Torch Festival.
Teenagers play with fire, turning the traditional celebrations for the Dali Torch Festival into a spectacular but harmless battle.
Policemen patrol the streets of Dali's Old Town during the Torch Festival to make sure that nobody gets hurt.
A young man dares his friends to throw sawdust on his torch during the Dali Torch Festival.
A young man during the Torch Festival runs holding a large lit torch.
Tourists and tourist guides dressed in traditional costumes dance around a fire during the celebrations of the Torch Festival in Dali.
Dali residents and tourists light their torches from a fire during the traditional Torch Festival.
A huge torch burns in front of a hotel in Dali's Old Town. After dusk, torches can be seen burning in front of most of houses in town, following the traditional rituals.
A man is seen selling torches of different sizes on the streets of Dali's Old Town. The bags in front of him are filled with a powder made by mixing sawdust and pine resin, which is used during the celebrations.
A woman buys meat in the morning before the Torch Festival festivities begin.
A tourist guide takes her lunch break on a bench. The festival has become a popular attraction for tourists traveling in the region during the festival.