Photo Workshop with Manoocher Deghati: Settimana Santa – The Holy Week in the Valle d’Itria

April 4th – 14th, 2020

“A wonderful week spent at the Trullo Cicerone in the Valle d’Itria, Puglia, enjoying our shared passion of photography. Lessons, conversations, trips, tips and mentoring all made possible with the generosity of this man –  thank you for your time, wisdom and sharing your life’s photographic adventures and stories. Also a huge thank you to Ursula: your knowledge of the history and traditions of this area brought the ‘why’ in our storytelling to life. Together you create an amazing experience. Not to mention the wonderful food.”

Sally, Australia

The Holy Week is the week from Palm Sunday to Easter. It is packed with age-old rituals, customs and processions. Experience the Easter customs of Puglia!

Throughout Puglia you might have seen an effigy of the Quarantana, the lent witch, hanging in the streets. She is depicted as an old women dressed in the black attire of a widow. That is, firstly, because she is the widow of carnival, the festivity ending with the beginning of lent, and secondly because she reminds the passersby on the approaching passion of Christ. At the end of lent, on the eve of Easter, her effigy will be burnt, marking the end of fasting. In Martina Franca the effigy is even shot at before going up in flames.

The Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, the day commemorating the Biblical story in which Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to celebrate Passover there with his disciples. Entering Jerusalem, he was greeted like a king, people laid there cloaks onto the street so that the donkey would step on them, and waved palm leafs. In celebration of that day, palm leafs (or, in Italy actually, olive twigs) are blessed and carried in a procession through the streets. This happens all over the world.

With the nightly processions of Maundy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper, the peak of the ceremonies begins. The most famous one in Puglia takes place in Taranto, but the nightly Processione dell’Addolorata by barefoot, hooded members of several confraternities in Martina Franca, that starts at midnight and goes on unto early morning, is as impressive.

On Venerdì Santo, Holy Friday, the day of Christ’s death on the cross, after the official rites of mourning his death, in the late afternoon, the confraternities of Martina Franca get together for the Processione dei Misteri, carrying 13 statues through the old city in an evocative ceremony.

On Saturday morning, the impressive Processione della Desolata takes place in Canosa, north of Bari, which is outside the Valle d’Itria, but so remarkable that it is worth mentioning it nevertheless: women, and only women, entirely veiled in black, express their grieve for the death of Christ in a very sincere procession.

Easter Sunday itself, the day on which the resurrection of Christ is celebrated, is marked by a major culinary family feast. We won’t interfere with that and move on straight to Pasquetta, Easter Monday, which is celebrated by a sumptuous pick-nick in the open.

This ten day workshop in visual storytelling will be focusing on the traditions and rites of the Settimana Santa, the Holy Week, in Puglia, and the subsequent Easter celebrations. Puglia is a region of unparalleled depth of religious traditions, with plenty of local variations and peculiarities. Participants will visit and photograph beautiful towns and churches, as well as unique processions and ceremonies.

The workshop is designed for all passionate photographers. It focuses especially on developing mind and eye for developing a story, within a small group of participants under the tutorage of Manoocher Deghati, world-renowned photojournalist with more than 40 years of experience.

Manoocher has been photographing news, conflicts and social issues around the globe since 1978, starting with the Iranian revolution and subsequent war with Iraq in his native country Iran. After being exiled from Iran in 1985 he worked for several major agencies, magazines, and the United Nations in Central America, Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle-East. He worked for publications such as: Time, Life, Newsweek, GEO, and National Geographic. In 2002, after the fall of the Taliban, he founded AINA Photojournalism Institute in Kabul. After directing the photo operation for The Associated Press in the Middle East for four years, he is now freelancing from his home base in Southern Italy.

The programme takes place in the pittoresque Valle d’Itria between Martina Franca, Cisternino and Locorotondo, on our small-scale farm home and vinyard.

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The workshop will take place over a period of ten days, with shooting assignments, visits, and outdoor activities as well as some theoretical session.

Saturday, April 4th Arrival and welcome

Sunday, April 5th Palm Sunday in Locorotondo: benediction of the palm branches, the Quarantana (lent witch), traditional palm Sunday lunch

Afternoon: Slideshow and comments on photography and photojournalism

Review of portfolios of the participants

Monday, April 6th Morning: shooting assignment in Polignano a Mare

Afternoon: The role of art history in photography and editing: Why are pictures important for humanity? When and how did it all start? How does art history and our perception of aesthetics influence our choices in photo editing? Why is it important to be aware of it?

Review and discussion about the previous day’s photos

Tuesday, April 7th Visual story telling

Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment

Afternoon: The Medieval cave village of Lama D’Antico and its churches with Byzantine frescoes

Wednesday, April 8th Morning: shooting assignment in Ostuni

Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment

Thursday, April 9th Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment

The night of Maundy Thursday in Martina Franca: The night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the statue of the Virgin is carried by hooded members of traditional confraternities.

Friday, April 10th Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment

6pm Processione die Misteri, Martina Franca

Saturday, April 11th Holy Saturday morning: Processione della Desolata in Canosa: hundreds of women dressed in black, their faces veiled, hold a procession in commemoration of the sufferings of Mary, Christ’s mother.

Easter Eve: Il Sparo della Quarantena: On that evening the Quarantena (lent witch) is burned, marking the end of lent. Later that evening, as the beginning of the Easter liturgy, the Easter fire is lightened and blessed in front of all churches.

Sunday, April 12th Easter Sunday is a day of celebration within family, which is spend eating and drinking throughout the day. We will have a traditional Easter lunch.

Monday, April 13th Easter Monday / Pasquetta: Literally everybody is out on that day for the traditional, sumptious Easter picknick.

Evening: Review of the participants’ assignments and evaluation of the course

Tuesday, April 14th Departure


FEES: Ten day workshop per person, including ten nights accommodation: € 2,400.- The workshop fee is split into two payments, the first payment is due upon registration. This payment confirms your stay. The second payment is due upon arrival. Participants are responsible for their own insurance.

FOOD: The price includes breakfast, Palm Sunday lunch, Easter feast, and the traditional Easter Monday picknick.

SPECIAL REQUESTS: Please list any special needs or considerations (double/single room request, accessibility needs, food preferences, allergies…). Thank you!

HOW TO ARRIVE: The nearest airports are Bari (1 1⁄2 h drive) and Brindisi (45 mins drive). There are trains and buses connecting the airport with the respective city centres. From there trains leave to Locorotondo or Martina Franca. Rental cars are available at both airports, as well as taxi services. We strongly recommend to organize your own transportation for the period of the workshop.

Manoocher speaks English, Italian, French, Spanish, Farsi, Azeri, and Turkish.

“It has been an amazing 10 days experience. I’m so happy that I have the chance to photograph the Holy Week processions, such a unique experience.”

Chenyun, UK

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