…or rather, a robert capa exhibition in florence, of the allied landings in sicily and southern italy in 1943 and 1944. it is currently at the national photography museum, the mnaf, until 23 february (according to this site it will be the last one in this location since a new museum is opening elsewhere – watch this space!), and i recommend you go (although the 7.5 euro entry fee is a bit steep if you ask me.)

the exhibition is relatively small, but that is because the original collection of photographs is not that big itself. only 78 of the 937 photos in the collection ‘master selection iii’ portray the fighting in italy in 1943-44. they specifically involve the invasion of sicily in july 1943 and the landings at anzio in february 1944.

‘this was the first time i had followed an attack from beginning to end,’ wrote capa, ‘and i managed to get some good pictures. they were simple pictures and showed how dreary and unspectactular fighting actually is.’ there is something of the mundane, of the unspectacular, in capa’s photos. and yet, the power and emotion they generate sends tingles up your back.

some famous extracts include this one:


‘in july 1943 the allies landed in sicily, starting the liberation of italy from fascism. between 1943 and 1945 they fought against german troops and italian fascist troops from the repubblica di salo’, slowly moving toward the north of italy.’ caption from the magnum photo site.

this on is also pretty famous:


couldn’t find a good caption for this one… but it involved american soldiers taking a break, in sicily i think, in the ruins.

some of my favourite ones, however, included these three:


in this photo, an italian prisoner of war is following the others towards the camp. things seem pretty chilled, however, which definitely says something about italian-american interaction.


this old lady in the ruins is equally spectacular.

and finally there is this one:


‘naples. october 2, 1943. women crying at funeral of twenty teenaged partisans who had fought the germans before the allies entered the city.’ caption also taken from the magnum photos site.

what is truly powerful, though, about this photograph, is capa’s own comments about the scene he was photographing:

‘these were my truest pictures of victory,

the ones i took at that simple schoolhouse funeral.’

naples, october 1943.


piazza maria santa novella

(7.5 euros, and lasts until 23 feb 2014)




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