Alicudi lays in the Tyrrhenian sea, north of Sicily. It is the smallest and most remote of the seven inhabited islands that form the Aeolian Archipelago, known as Aeolian Islands. Named by Greek settlers after the mythological treasurer of the winds Aeolus, they are the result of volcanic activity over a period of 260,000 years.

Appearing like a large volcanic cone protruding from the sea, Alicudi has an impressive structure. The village starts developing from the tiny port going uphill. There are no roads, only a stairway network and footpaths. Donkeys are the only form of transport. Electricity arrived here about 15 years ago. Historically, Alicudi must have been a brutal place to live with locals making a living from fishing and from farming the rugged slope. Nowadays it numbers around 80 inhabitants. Many have emigrated and some of the houses were deserted.

The first time I came here, it was out of curiosity. I was following a friend who knew the place well. The island enchanted me. A mixed feeling of euphoria and melancholy overwhelmed me. In front of my eyes the beauty of this small place surrounded by sea. In my heart I could feel the isolation that helped remain authentic.

The locals didn’t look open or friendly, with their faces tough and sun scarred revealing a life full of struggle on this difficult place. They were forming an unknown world, speaking a language I didn’t. I decided to challenge myself. I visited and revisited Alicudi longing to get to know it.

Attracted by the Arcudari faces (sicilian dialect), I started making contact with them by asking to take their portraits. Day by day, my bond with the island was growing, revealing me much more than the obvious. I needed to go beyond that. Approaching my subject with sensitivity and empathy, I was able to perceive and compose a portrait of an island both wild and fragile.