Aunt Janna – An Italian Housewife

“I was born between the two World Wars in a hamlet in the Tuscan interior, it was December, felt as cold as hell, I had a deformed foot and was penniles… So I was born lucky!”


Janna is an Italian housewife that seems to come out of a Neorealist film of the 50s. She has spent all her life raising her 3 children and taking care of her husband. From when she gets up in the morning, she starts a busy routine of laundry, ironing, and cooking.

Always busy with household chores, she rarely leaves her place if not to visit the ice cream shop around the corner:

“Every Sunday my grandmother would give me some coins. With that change I used to buy an ice cream and go to the cinema to seen Laurel and Hardy’s movies. Now there are no more cinemas close to my house but there is a nice ice cream shop – that’s why I stopped watching movies but still eat ice cream!”

Janna is not well informed about the outside world. Big political issues rarely engage her, but she has a joyful spirit and a down-to-earth, wise attitude to life:

“Before I got married I didn’t know how to cook but with three kids and a husband I was forced to learn. Now I’m a really good cook. Throughout my life I’ve eaten a lot of vegetable soup because I was born at a time when the only things you could find to eat were bread and vegetables. Could this be the reason I’ve reached the age of 82?”

Her poetry of small things, as I like to call it, has always been a great inspiration to me: “You want some advice from me? Work, be honest and hope to stay healthy. Also… don’t forget – try not to fear anything, not even death.”

About the author:

Michela Carmazzi is a London based artist from Italy working as a documentary photographer, scriptwriter and filmmaker. Her work explores the relationship between memory and people. She is editing her first photo book: “Aunt Janna, an Italian housewife”. The photo project has been selected at the Renaissance Photography Prize 2017, MIFA2017, IPA2016 and it will be exhibited at the Getty Images Gallery in London 10-21 October 2017.

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