Starter for ten: where did James Joyce write Dubliners? Nope that would be far too obvious, in actual fact it was in Italy, and in its most north-eastern corner Friuli Venezia Giulia to be precise. It’s a beguilingly beautiful part of the world that has captured the hearts of a host of towering creative figures: Ernest Hemingway built a house there and the film director Pier Paolo Pasolini spent much of his life in the region. Stretching from the Alps down to the shores of the Adriatic Sea, Friuli boasts incredible landscapes and yet seems overlooked by the hordes of tourists who descend on Italy every year, making it one of the country’s best-kept secrets.
Vice’s travel channel One For The Road is launching a series of films exploring this interesting area, having sent Berlin-based filmmaker Pia Hellenthal to immerse herself in the culture in the best way possible; by spending time with the people who call Friuli home.
In the first instalment The Fisherman and The Lagoon, Pia travels to the coast and meets a local fisherman called Witige who lives on an island off the Grado shore. It combines some beautiful cinematography with an engaging portrait of Witige, a man who redefines the term “local character.” It celebrates his humble lifestyle without being patronising and Pia makes for a good guide; open-minded and hopelessly charmed by the fisherman despite herself.
What’s particularly impressive about the film is that not that much happens in its ten minutes – a length of time beyond the finite attention spans of online audience it’s often claimed. And yet as viewers we’re never bored; it’s excellently paced and Witige has enough wit and wisdom to keep us entertained.
Head over to the Vice site to watch the film and keep an eye out for the rest of the series which will be released over the coming weeks. It may just make you itchy to follow in the footsteps of Joyce, Hemingway et al and discover this region for yourself.