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Il caso “Africo”. From the Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archive
Curated by Paolo Woods
Scientific supervision by Barbara Costa
Photo research by Serena Berno and Silvia Cerri


In 1948, the Italian magazine L’Europeo published a story on Africo, a town in the Calabrian Aspromonte where over 2,000 people lived in inhuman conditions, a place that had become emblematic of the “Southern question.” In March 1948, the journalist Tommaso Besozzi, along with Valentino (Tino) Petrelli, one of the leading photographers at Vincenzo Carrese’s photojournalism agency, Publifoto, arrived in Africo. Only 7 of the photos they took there were published, but those made history, piercing through the indifference of a country that, while mired in countless contradictions, was struggling to dig itself out from beneath the moral and material rubble of a devastating war.
When, in 1951, the town was completely destroyed by a flood, the outrage generated by the reportage helped to spur the government to find funds to build a new town. Although “Africo Nuovo” completely obliterated all that remained of the original village, the memory of the old town, Africo “vecchio,” still remains, inextricably bound to that photographic reportage, which today is being exhibited in its entirety for the first time by Intesa Sanpaolo.


Valentino Petrelli (b. 1922, Fontanafredda di Pordenone; d. 2001, Piacenza), known as “Tino,” joined the Publifoto agency in 1937. It was there that he would spend his entire career.

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