Balkan Express

Balkan Express, photo essay by Michele Mattiello

From Venice to Istanbul by train, through the Balkans.
My intention was not to see Istanbul, but the experience of travel to reach it, to lose myself.

Reading a short story by Paolo Rumiz, it inspired me to travel to Istanbul by train.
One day, in late January, I decided to take a backpack, my camera and without any booking I started my journey from Venice to Istanbul.
A small kind of adventure.
I went to Trieste by train, and then to Ljubljana
The next day, I caught another train to Belgrade, and the night after I travelled again by train to Sofia.
Finally, the last night train, the Balkan Express, which led me to Istanbul.
Cold, and continuous snow storms, looking for an hotel, talking to strangers in smoky bars, meeting people and get in their homes, just to share a few moments of their lives.
This is the photographic story of what I saw through dirty windows of the trains, on the streets, inside homes.
Full story at

Q&A with Michele Mattiello

Photography is…
Desire. And a good excuse to make new experiences…

Photography and writing…
I like stories that evoke images, and photographs who evoke a story, but one does not have to explain or describe the other.
Photography and writing must be evocative more than descriptive.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
Antoine d’Agata

Tell us a little about yourself
I’m curious, restless, stubborn and never satisfied.

MattielloMichele Mattiello (, 1964, Italy. I started shooting and begain darkroom practice in the 90’s. In 2003 I began to work with an ONLUS to make reportages on their activities. After this project, which lasted 5 years, I decided to focus on exploring the intimate sphere of people and body languages. Later experiences with other photographers lead me to deepen this research. I am not interested anymore just about representation, I try to express the intimate relationship with my subjects, showing the emotional state of the moment.


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