Light Tellers – What Italy Is interview with Simone Enei

Simone Enei is the protagonist of the third interview of What Italy Is for the new column of Collater. al dedicated to Italian instagramers.

Nature and mountains lovers today, we are (particularly) talking to you. This month What Italy Is interviewed Simone Enei, who defines himself a photographer and explorer of the natural environment, starting from the woods at the bottom of the valley up to glaciers and rocky peaks. He painstakingly holds his breath after he has raced on the ridges to enclose his experiences in a photographic shot and sometimes even in the form of words.

Simone recommends you to read his interview by listening to Helios’s “A Mountain of Ice”.

From your Instagram profile and short bio we can understand that you like to stay in the midst of nature, especially in the mountains. How did this passion come about and how important is the concept of exploration for you?

My passion for nature, and then for the mountains, was born in the years of adolescence when together with one of my dearest friends we were used to wake up before dawn to cycle to the hills behind our houses and then admire deer and other animals graze at the first lights of the sun. As time went by, the boundaries widened, I began to look upwards and upwards, from here the transition to hiking and then to mountaineering. Exploration for me is a fundamental concept, it is not only a physical act, it is inner growth.

What is the trip you are most attached to?

Life itself. I love to think that it is a long journey without departure or arrival destinations.

How do you decide your next destination/exploration and what do you bring with you?

It may seem trivial, but what most influences the decision of a possible destination is the weather. Mountaineering is closely linked to the conditions of the sky, walls, snow and ice, so I often find myself deciding on the destination at the end of the day, based on weather forecasts. Despite this, it is sometimes the unexpected or the uncalculated that triggers the most interesting circumstances, especially at the photographic level.

3 tips on places that you have visited and deserve a short, medium and long lasting “trek”.

A beautiful place easily reachable by anyone with half an hour’s walk is the Lake Arpy, above the San Carlo Hill, in the territory of Morgex, Valle D’ Aosta. In its waters, it reflects part of the marvellous Mont Blanc mountain range, from the Dente del Gigante to the Grandes Jorasses.

 A medium and long excursion (with some tracts a bit exposed) is the beautiful circular tour on Monte Giovo, between Modenese and Lucchese starting from Lake Baccio and arriving at Lake Santo. The ridge that you travel along offers beautiful views.

 An hardest climb, which requires technical knowledge of mountaineering as well as climbing and high altitude training, is Punta Gnifetti, top of 4,554 mslm. between Italy and Switzerland. On this peak stands the highest mountain shelter in Europe, Capanna Margherita, and the view of the Cresta Signal towards the village of Alagna is truly breathtaking. From here, the eastern wall of Monte Rosa precipitates towards the village of Macugnaga, forming the only wall of the Himalyano type (it is 2600 meters high and 4 km wide) present in the Alps.

Do you feel more photographer or explorer?

As a child I used to photograph my explorations and discoveries with throwaway cameras. Landscapes, animal traces, plants and natural details were my favorite subjects. To this day the situation has not changed, I continue to photograph my experiences and the places where I live. I cannot separate photography from exploration, I think they have been and continue to be two things that are closely interrelated.

Who inspires you, what is the photographer/artist you most admire?

Among the artists and photographers that most inspire my work and my poetics there is certainly Hamish Fulton. His making art solely through the experience of walking was the starting point for my graduation thesis entitled “Traces of the Error”. I totally embrace his theory of art:”An object cannot compete with an experience.

To this day, what is your greatest satisfaction?

My greatest satisfaction is that I have given up on reaching the Mont Blanc peak just a few minutes after reaching it because of the unease of my friend and fellow cordate. I think that ethics is very important in mountaineering and I consider the ropeway as a link that goes beyond the simple concept of minimizing risks in the mountains. It is sharing of joy and successes as well as pain and renunciation.

What do you dream for yourself?

My dream is to be able to wake up, open the window and see woods and mountains first of all. That would be a wonderful routine.

Instagram: how do you use it, what do you like most and least about this platform.

 I have been registerd in Instagram since 2011 and have always used it to tell through images the experiences I live and the places I visit. This kind of sharing with people from all over the world, but also with people close to us, is what I appreciate most. On the other hand, I do not like the increasing tendency to use the platform for promotional purposes, which in some cases I find really sad.

If I asked you to recommend us an Italian place to photograph, what would you answer?

I would reccomend you to visit the Lagorai mountain range through an excursion (there are of all lengths and difficulties). It is a little-known area, far from mass tourism and still wild, which offers unique views. I find that it reaches the peak of beauty in autumn, when the bright colours of larch trees, meadows and rocky peaks are reflected in the numerous lakes present.

Could there be a life for you, away from the mountains?

 For a period of my life I lived and worked in Iceland and one of the main reasons why I returned to Italy is the strong lack that I felt far from the mountains. With their ridges, silences, colours and inhabitants, the Alps and the Apennines are my soul’s places and I cannot do without them.

What is Italy for you, out of the commonplace?

The most beautiful and varied country in the world, for landscape and culture.

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Interview by Giulia Dini
All images © Simone Enei

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