We talked to a visual artist and fashion and lifestyle photographer who was born and raised in South Tyrol: meet Jasmine Deporta.
Mysterious hypnotising portraits, analogue photography and more, visual artist and fashion and lifestyle photographer Jasmine Deporta’s grew up in South Tyrol. Although now currently living and working in Lausanne, Switzerland, she is always drawn back to her region, soaking in natural inspirations from its flora and fauna – something that has certainly helped her carve her own photographic style. Here she tells us all about the multifaceted beauty of her region of origin, from its combination of two different cultures – the Alpine-German and Italian – to its landscapes, rich and varied in contrasting ways.
You were born and raised in South Tyrol, what makes this place so dear and special to you apart from your roots?
South Tyrol is multifaceted and rich in contrast in many ways: the landscape goes from Alpine to Mediterranean, from high mountain peaks and deep coniferous woods, to vine-covered hills, plains and palm trees. Originally mountain farmers, people here are resilient and diligent but interspersed with a certain easiness - a combination that might be related to the two different cultures, the Alpine German-speaking and the Italian, that meet here and merge to something unique. I grew up in the mountain restaurant of my parents, which is inevitably where my gravitation towards food and my interest in food culture and hospitality derives from. The culinary landscape in South Tyrol is vast and full of authentic, hearty and refined food, with both Alpine and Italian influences. An invitation to indulge! All of this sums up to a great living quality that is priceless.
Alongside the sometimes kitschy side, the mountains also have an ominous, arcane and misty aspect - this contrasts and the manifold facets make South Tyrol special to me.
Has it inspired or informed your photography in any way?
Photography has always been a very personal and intuitive way for me to reflect on my surroundings and interpersonal relationships, it is introspective and profoundly related to themes such as womanhood, identity and how sociality is performed. Inevitably my cultural background and rural upbringing influenced not only the way I work but as well the aesthetic. So, for example, it triggered a fascination towards trivial, ‘everyday’ objects, symbols and their aesthetic that often appear in my pictures. I’m a person that is characterized by contrasts, and so is my work. For one thing, it is feminine, then again it expresses a certain rawness. What I like is to play with those contrasts and to shift the emphasis from hidden to more obvious and vice versa. Being brought up surrounded by tall mountains, yet in a tiny village, is a testament to my ambivalence.
Apart from Villa Arnica, where would you suggest one to stay during summer? and winter?
The Bühelwirt in Ahrntal and Weisses Kreuz in Burgeis are great for both, winter and summer!
The beauty of South Tyrol also lies in its Great Lakes, which ones are your favourites? any hidden gems or photo opportunity here?
There are some famous classics like the Lago di Braies, which depending on the time of the year can be quite crowded and touristy. My favorite ones are mountain lakes, I enjoy the cold water and it is great for a refreshing dip on warm summer days! The Laghetto di Fiè /Völser Weiher Lake is a natural swimming lake with great panorama at the foot of the Sciliar. A more secret spot and accessible via a short walk through the forest is the Göllerlake / Lago del Colle. Some of the best lakes are accessible only If you are up for a hike to reach them, like the Lake Sorapis / Lago di Sorapis with its surreal turquoise blue water.
What are the best hikes or biking tours you’ve gone on?
The area that I know by heart is where I grew up: the Villnöss Valley. It has hikes for all kinds of levels, a great choice of huts and amazing views. Whenever I can, I visit the Gampen Alm. The family-run mountain hut is beautifully located amid green alpine meadows (aprox. 1/1.5 h walk) and serves great and authentic South Tyrolian cuisine. If you are keen to expand the tour you can hike to a small peak called Zendleserkofel which is 1 hour from the hut. The steep path to the top will be rewarded with an incredible 360° view on the surrounding mountains and the valley.
The best places serving traditional tyrolese cooking?
I love the Kircherhof in Albeins/Albes and the Kürbishof in Altrei which are great examples for well done, authentic farm to table dishes. For a special evening I warmly recommend the Unterwirt in Gufidaun, the Gasthaus Jäger in Sirmian and the 1477 Reichhalter in Lana (be sure to reserve your table in advance!). All of them serve culinary delights that are inspired by traditional recipes and are exemplary for a sophisticated yet down-to-earth cuisine.
If you are in South Tyrol in autumn be sure to try Törggelen’, a tradition to celebrate the new wine and the harvest. Traditional ‚Buschenschank‘ farmhouse inns serve homemade, hearty food in their old paneled ‚Stube‘. One of my favorites is the Oberpartegger in Villandro / Villanders - get the tasting menu for a full experience and be sure to try the homemade ‚Schlutzkrapfen‘ and if you fancy, the blood sausage.
The places to hide at for some time relaxing away from urban life?
I enjoy the solitude of the Zirmerhof in Radein, a historic hotel at 1560m far off from busy streets and a place where the luxury is space, time and simplicity. It is great for lunch or to have an afternoon tea on their terrasse. Their rustic alpine huts and the generous meadow houses not far from the main building are like a hotel room in the outdoors.
The best or the wildest activity you've done that can be done only in the mountain?
Climbing a peak for sunrise. Some years ago I did a peak tour with a group of friends - we climbed the 2875 m high Peitlerkofel. It was one of the days I will remember forever. It takes a bit of endurance and courage to hike up in the dark and it is not for people suffering from vertigo or being inexperienced in hiking. But it is a once in a lifetime experience to be above the clouds, on top of a mountain and watch the sun slowly rise. Good knowledge of the route and the place or at least a very conscientious study of the tour and special caution are essential to be able to travel safely in the mountains at night and in the morning - ask for a local mountain guide at your stay or find one here.