Rome with Marta Scotti

‘It is important for me to celebrate and show the poetic fragments of everyday life.’ Here, the photographer shares how life in Rome continues to nurture her creative inspiration – whether that’s from wandering its bustling streets or observing the quiet beauty on a hilltop rose garden.

The Poetry Of Life

My work focuses on subjects found in my everyday life that communicate a sense of peace which I have always treasured above all else. I find myself drawn to a subdued, soothing palette, often leaning toward pastels, as if the images do not wish to speak too loudly. The task I set myself is to communicate a subtle reflection of the things we are used to looking at passively, giving them new meaning to impact the eye of the beholder – a flower, a wall, a raw plant, a sunset, two hands, a bottle. Unnoticed aspects of the everyday. I shoot mainly on film. Although it is slower and more difficult to master, the authenticity, depth of colour and radiant light that only film can capture is absolutely fascinating me. 

As the photographer Imogen Cunningham said, ‘the formula of doing a good job in photography is to think like a poet.’ Another inspiration of mine is Wislawa Szymborska, the ‘Mozart of poetry’. In her Nobel speech, she spoke of the extraordinary importance of everyday life: ‘In the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.’ I feel such an affinity with her words and believe that anything reality offers us will no longer be wholly good or bad once transformed into poetry.

Rome Is Home

‘R(h)ome.’ Here I have my family. We love to meet, call, play, walk, dine and do absolutely nothing – but together! What I find magical about this city is that you can smell its magnificent history. Wandering around Rome you find something interesting on every corner. Narrow old streets with boutiques, colourful flowers tumbling down from balconies, a Bernini sculpture or Borromini’s architecture waving from the distance. It inspires me everyday. And the beauty is, I always discover something new. I can never say I know Rome completely because its story is ongoing. An open-air museum where the ancient meets the contemporary. 

I’ve never forgotten what a friend of mine once told me: ‘Fare una passeggiata’ which translates roughly to ‘taking a walk without any destination.’ Something I experience only in Rome. 

Rome has a particular colour and atmosphere. Its light and texture are what draw my attention most, especially during the early morning and late afternoon. Those magic hours have the most peaceful atmosphere here. Rome is chaotic: it’s not easy to live here but in some strange way it also helps you to feel balanced. In Rome I feel alive: I like how free, expressive, friendly and emotional the people are. If they have a good day, they shine; if not, they don’t pretend!

I like to escape to the Botanical Garden in Trastevere, a serene space that is not only a botanical garden, but also an archeological area. I used to come here with my friend and her children: I loved talking to them about flowers, teaching them to observe and enjoy all the differences and uniqueness of nature: no flower or tree is ever the same as another. There are four greenhouses there, each one houses various plants not native to the Italian ecosystem – cacti from America and Africa, and lush trees and flowering plants from the Amazon Rainforest. When you enter these miniature ecosystems you feel you have travelled all the world’s most exotic places. The garden is home to 60 different types of coniferous trees, including an extraordinary Afghan palm tree that grows horizontally. How incredible and unique nature is!

I love the Japanese Garden most of all: its tranquil environment, calming waterfalls, beautiful magnolia trees and delicate shrubbery. I almost forget that I am in one of the busiest cities in the world. I also love to walk amongst the fragrant aromas in the rose section that sits atop a small hill. At the highest point, you can spot wild roses which have only five petals and grow exclusively in May. In this labyrinth of beauty, I am easily (and gladly) lost in the allurement of nature.

Nature Paints For Us

As John Ruskin said, ‘Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them.’ Nature helps me to contemplate. And to contemplate means to stop and try to go beyond the surface of things. Stopping and contemplating nature is discovering that reality is always a little more than what one sees. I’m a person of great faith and trust there is something sacred in reality that overflows from the simple image. It requires you to be there, right at that moment with your eyes wide open to capture the ‘more’, the ‘beyond’.  

Photographing nature restores me in my down moments. I take my camera out with me and walk around in search of brighter things and seek to find beauty in the world. There is nothing more therapeutic than this. After all, what remains in the end is only the poignant beauty of reality.

On Capturing The Maternal

To me, maternity is ma-eternity. It’s a bond that unites the mother and child forever. It tells of sacrifice, care, tenderness. I’m captivated by pregnancy: how incredibly magical the female body is, capable of creating, carrying and giving birth to a new life. I like spending time with friends and their children and capturing those authentic moments. Nothing is constructed. I like the purity of the gaze, the desire of living that knows no limits, the simplicity of the children. To photograph those moments above all else renews that sense of amazement, as if I was observing as a child again.

In 2021 I got involved with charity Missioni which assists in helping the most fragile parts of humanity: children, the elderly and people who are not self-sufficient. I photographed a group of 120 young volunteers in Baia Mare, north Romania. They gave themselves without reservation. All dynamic, passionate and brave, helping in the construction of dormitories for families in need. Their spirit of unity and the way they supported each other was unforgettable.

Follow Marta’s wild-inspired life @martascotti

Find out more about the Missioni project @missioni.onlus