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Feelings from a very unique road trip MINI Clubman tour in Tuscany

When we arrived back in Milan, back from the one-week GQ-Mini Clubman tour in Tuscany, everybody had that strange sensation. No, it wasn't the go-kart feeling of the MINI. Nor was it the Chianti or "le bistecche" (massive dino-steaks that outside of Tuscany are (wrongly) known as Fiorentina). It was a subtle feeling of loss. Do you remember the first day home after summer camp? When you live so much that you feel it will never happened again? Well, something like that ...

It all began in July 2007 when MINI awarded this incredible experience as part of the ITS#PHOTO MINI prize. A photo tour around Tuscany looking for uniqueness. The main characters of this adventure were:
Gianni Berengo Gardin, famous reportage photographer of Contrasto; Maria Giulia Giorgiani, up-and-coming photographer and graphic artist selected from the PHOTO finalists of ITS#SIX.
Around them lots of other important characters:
Angelo Pannofino, GQ journalist; Alberto Novello, freelance Photographer; Donatella Pollini, Gianni's assistant; Pablo Chiereghin, Responsible for Eve Production; Corrado Govoni,Eve Production Assistant; Matteo Cracco, cameraman.

The plot started with a "coast to coast" from Milan to Gaiole in Chianti, the region from which the famous wine comes from. From the very first day, what should have been a relaxing tour around Tuscany became a tour de force between endless white countryside streets and meal marathons, supplied by the traditional cooking of this region.

A typical day for the troupe was always pretty intense. Wake up at 7.30. Breakfast at 8.00. Then 200 km of "light hunting" looking for landscapes around the "Crete Senesi" or the "Val D'Orcia". Lunch break at about 2pm. And once again, driving another 200-300 km, stopping randomly when the union between the hills and the cypress trees were giving us the impression that that could have been the right shot.

The two photographers were the main directors of the expedition. Gianni Berengo Gardin was challenging himself searching for landscapes he had already photographed in the past. By doing that, he was giving new meaning to the traditional Tuscan landscape. A search for formal beauty deeply connected with the passing of time. Black and white pictures that, starting from the romantic allure of the timeless landscape, developed into a contemporary search for documentary details. Maria Giulia Giorgiani was concerned about facing a documentary project for the first time. But she still did not forgo on her romantic and fairytale style of photography. As she quietly approached the subjects she was already imagining the soft creatures that would have been juxtaposed on her landscape pictures. She was just trying not to disturb them or wake them up.

Aside from the landscapes, one of the topical moments of the tour was when we all were sitting round the table, most of the time just after opening the first bottle of wine. Gianni, with that strange accent of someone who has lived too many different places, started to tell us about his past. About his life during World War II, about the dreams and wishes of his childhood, about his start in photography, in Venice a long ago, about his portraits of Hemingway, about his masterpieces like the photo of the "vaporetto" in Venice. Always quiet and elegant, Gianni looks like a wise man with a great sense of humour that he uses to point out how attached to his life he is.

Giulia, on the other side of the table, with a shyness of a person who is thinking about clouds and sunflowers, was imagining her transparent creatures travelling through history. Her attitude was a perfect balance between silence and curiosity. Between a smile and a dash with her red ballerina shoes on, Giulia looked quiet and happy. A positive attitude that exudes the young creative energy of someone who still has something to say in the photography field.

These two photographers, so different in age and style, had been involved in an adventure that has been as light-minded and passionate as a real road trip. Angelo Pannofino in his intense reportage for GQ describes Gianni and Maria Giulia as the Giant and the Little Girl.

At the end of this experience a lot still has to happen. The pictures of the Giant and the Little Girl will be officially presented in an exhibition for the Week of Photography at the Forma International Centre for Photography in Milan from 29 November 2007.

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