I was born in Prato in 1952. I took my degree in Persian language and literature at the University of Venice (Ca’ Foscari) in 1975 and taught Persian language and literature (1975-2018) and Conceiving and Producing Photography (2010-2018) at that University. In 1987 I became full professor of Persian language and literature at Ca’ Foscari where I was director of the Dipartimento di Studi Eurasiatici from 1990 until 1996 and from 1999 until 2005. In August 2019 I was appointed as Professor emeritus of Persian language and Literature at Ca’ Foscari.
I wrote numerous publications (in several languages and in different countries) concerning the classical and contemporary Persian literature with contributions in little-studied fields of Iranian studies (rhyme, obscene poetry, Indian style with a special focus on Bidel, computer-assisted analysis of ghazal, semiotics applied to poetry, lexical statistics, relationships between Persian landscape and Persian poetry). I have carried out an intense translating activity, with a special interest in Indian-style authors. In 1982 I won the Leone Traverso prize – in the section for a first work of the Città di Monselice awards – with the translation of theQâbus-nâme (Kay Kâ’us,Il Libro dei Consigli, Milan, 1981). I was the first to introduce Abbas Kiarostami’s poetic works to Western readers with the translation of Hamrâh bâ bâd (A. Kiarostami, Con il vento, Milano, 2001), which was followed up by a translation of the second book of poems by the Persian film-maker (A. Kiarostami, Un lupo in agguato, Turin, 2003).
At the same time as my university studies, I have carried out an intense photographic activity initially devoted to the Persian landscape.n My first one-man show of photographs was at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in October 1976. A year later I showed my works at the 14th Sao Paulo Contemporary Art Biennial, Brazil, and at the Diaframma gallery, Milan. In 1978 I graduated with a diploma in film-making and direction of photography from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Rome. Since then I have held exhibitions in various Italian cities (Milan, Venice, Prato, Bologna, Bolzano, Montemurlo, Quarrata, Borbiago, Bari, Rome, Barolo, Mestre, Cuneo, Turin, Tatti, Massa Marittima, Marina di Scarlino, Padova). In May 2005 I organized an exhibition at the Silk Road gallery in Tehran together with Abbas Kiarostami (who was awarded an honorary degree by Ca’ Foscari University at my prompting) In September 2007 my photos of Iran were shown at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. In October 2007 I showed my photos of Iran together with photos by Abbas Kiarostami and 56 other Iranian photographers at the Centro Culturale Candiani in Mestre-Venice (catalogue: Iran people roads landscapes, Venice, 2007).
My explorations of the Persian landscape have been featured in magazines (Atlante, XVI, 130, 1975, pp.40-49; Il Diaframma-Fotografia Italiana, 219, 1976, pp.27-34; Sarzamin-e man, 36, Tehran, 1388/2010, pp. 77-85; Âyiné, Revista Internacional de Culturas e Sociedades Islâmicas, 1, Verao, 2013, pp. 68-122), miscellaneous (Le tante strade del paesaggio persiano, in Oltre la soglia: Iran, cultura, arte, storia, Venice, 2005, pp.146-153; My New Iran: from Hormuz to Cham: A Neo-Pictorialist Photographic Journal, in Deyhim-e haftâd, Mehrnâme-ye Mohammad Ja‘far Yâhaghi, Tehran, 1397/2018, pp. 1-49) e libri (Golsciane raz, Milan, 1976; Verso Nondove/Tânokojâ, Tehran, 1984; Un giardino nella voce, Florence, 1995; Tâ shaqâyeq hast/While poppies bloom, Tehran, 2005; Solitudini persiane, Bari, 2006; Riflessi di Persia/Reflections of Persia, Venice-Tehran, 2013; A Gulf, a Strait and a Sea – Iran 1975-1995 -, images of Bandar-e ‘Abbâs, Qeshm, Hormuz and Châh-Bahâr, Venice, 2013).
The photos of the latter book were shown in Hormoz (Iran, 2013), Belo Horizonte (Brasil, 2013), Venice (Italy, 2013), and Qeshm (Iran, 2016).
Although initially, my published photographs have concentrated on the Persian landscape (Iranian critics have claimed that my book Verso Nondove/Tâ nakojâ initiated a new way of seeing and representing the Persian landscape, which also influenced Iranian photographers), I have actually taken photographs in over forty countries.
Books of photographs taken outside Iran are: Il libro di Lenin (Venice, 1992), Venezia alle finestre (Venice, 2006), Marco Foscarini. Una scuola pubblica a Venezia (Venice, 2010), Nostalgie, c’est pour toujours, omaggio ad Andrej Tarkovski (Venice, 2012), Un mondo d’acqua/A World of Water (Massa Marittima, 2015). The photographs of Venezia alle finestre were shown at the Real Academia de Espana in Rome (December, 2006–January 2007), at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice (May–June 2007), at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran (February–April 2008), at the Pavillon auf der Freundschaftinsel in Postdam (June 2008), at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (April–June 2009) and in various galleries in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria (2013–2016). From 27 September 2017 Venezia alle finestre is a permanent exhibition at the liceo italiano Gorna Banya, Sofia, Bulgaria My photographs have also illustrated four books by other authors: Cesare Feiffer, pensieriparoleopereomissioni: sull’architettura storica e il paesaggio, Milan, 2011; Handbook of the Department of Asian and North African Studies, Venice, 2012; Daniela Meneghini–Paola Orsatti, Corso di lingua persiana, Milan, 2012; Marco Lucchesi, A flauto e a Lua, Rio de Janeiro, 2016.
From 2014 to 2016, in collaboration with the city library of Massa Marittima, I organized three photographic courses with a primary and a middle school of Massa Marittima, producing three exhibitions and catalogues (Il travertino incantato 2014, Le forme calpestabili 2015, Le facciate parlanti 2016).
In 2016, I was artistic director of the under-35 project for the Toscana Foto Festival.
In 2018, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, commissioned me to publish a book of photographs to mark the 150th anniversary of the university:In Domo Foscari. Memorie e immagini di un ateneo, Venice, 2018. . For this book, I received the Hemingway award 2019 for photography.
In 2022, with the volume Niccioleta. Fotografie e Memoria di una comunità mineraria (Massa Marittima, 2022), I won the award for best Public History project of the year from the Italian Association of Public History.