In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.

God save thee, ancient Mariner!

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Pescara is an Italian city in Abruzzo that takes its name from the Pescara River, a nearby waterway that has been used for commerce and fishing since ancient times. Today, fishing has once again become one of the city’s principal activities.

Many different types of fishing are practiced in Pescara, but the most difficult is anchovy fishing, where fisherfolk use “lamparas” (small boats with a single bright light) to pull in their catch. Anchovies are attracted to the surface by the light.

The fishermen depart the harbor in mid-afternoon; they arrive off the Adriatic coast, near Croatian waters, by evening. Soon after the sun sets, the fishing boats head towards the schools of anchovies. They wait until nightfall to begin their catch. Then, the fishermen prepare for the long night.

This kind of fishing needs a flat sea and a moonless night. The anchovies are attracted by three “lamparas,” at which point they are enclosed in a net. As the net rises from the water, the captain’s shouts break the silence. The shouts are repeated by the other fisherman, creating a chorus. Then it’s time to judge the catch.

For this project I tried to capture the courage and the power of these fishermen. This is not a job for everybody, but only for those that love, respect and fear the sea: those who leave their families alone every night. When they take to their boats, though, they are part of another family.

—Francesco Cilli