These photos of the Dolomites will change your look at the well-known mountains

“Iconemi. Memory of Places” is a project of three creative person from Feltrino and Primiero Dolomites dedicated to the links between a local person and the place, and vice-versa.

For this they use a word “iconema” — a new description of a phrase “genius loci”.

Feltrino and Primiero are two contiguous alpine areas, situated on an ancient regional border between Veneto and Trentino, similar in altitude and customs, two windows on the Italian Alps.

I asked one of the creators to tell about the idea from his own words.

Nicola Chiavarelli
An architect and owner of Studio architetto Chiavarelli in Fiera involved in the restoration and recovery of historical architecture. Teacher of sustainable renovation techniques at Trento. Host of La Casa del Noce.

— I live and project in and for the Alps, trying to save the memory and the genius loci.

Earlier this year (2020), Aku, in its recurring appointment dedicated to the mountain and its values, chose me to take care of the Iconemi project, from an idea of their cultural attaché Teddy Soppelsa who supported me by an excellent young photographer Ruggero Alberti.

Teddy told me: “With photos and texts “explain” what an iconema is…” I didn’t know this term before!

Iconemes are personal perceptions of places. My work has consisted of making clear the suggestion evoked by this word.

I proposed the comparison between two realities, Feltrino and Primiero, to make the concept more readable — a direct and effective comparison. With seven themes of its own, characteristic of the single reality. For Feltre you see the Piave, the Birreria Pedavena, the Cittadella, the fees of Lamon, the houses of Sovramontino, the Passo Finestra, San Vittore. For Primiero: Le Pale, the snow, the hotels, Passo Cereda, the timber, the migration, the border

On these uniques themes we worked with Ruggero, to capture him — with his mechanical eye — the genius loci with the character linked to the place/soil/context. And I combined the synthesis of the story.

The result is known. It gave me great satisfaction.

It is as if we had succeeded in capturing, stopping, and transmitting to the observer all the dignity of the choices of those who have told us their perception of those places.


Primiero is the territory surrounding the town of Fiera di Premiero in the province of Trentino in the region Trentino — Alto Adidge/Sudtirol in the Dolomites. Main villages except Fiera in the region: San Martino di Castrozza, Siror, Tonadico, Transacqua, Sagron, Mis, Canal San Bovo, Caoria.

Primiero Dolomites in Iconemi project
Germano from Ronco Cainari © Ruggero Alberti

“I was born here at home on the border. In the hamlet now there are eight of us, there used to be a school with thirty children. There on this hill, here Castello and beyond the Canal valley. Thirty kilometers. Every day a good hour on foot to the farm… but health is all.”

Primiero Dolomites in Iconemi project
Germano from Passo Cereda © Ruggero Alberti

“In contrast to the ’70s, I’m walking in the groove my parents traced. Again and again with tenacity. Switzerland can also be here today.”

Primiero Dolomites in Iconemi project
Simone from Maso dei Fumeri © Ruggero Alberti

“With my maternal grandfather delivering up to the Boie di San Giovanni, I was a child, it was my after-school. Pros and cons are equal, in the open air, rain, wind, and cold won’t change my life.”

Primiero Dolomites in Iconemi project
Moris from Moris © Ruggero Alberti

“My great-grandparents went to Austro-Hungarian Bosnia in 1911, I came back here with my grandmother to visit the sisters, “polenta” every Saturday. Back in 1992, starting from scratch. It’s a circle in life, it gives you no respite.”


Feltrino is the territory surrounding the city of Feltre in the province of Belluno, region of Veneto in the Dolomites. Main villages in the region except city of Feltre: Fonzaso, Lamon, Arina, Sovramonte, Santa Guistina, Mel.

Feltrino Dolomites in Iconemi project
Barbara and Laura from Feltre © Ruggero Alberti

“Old Feltre is a plunge into the past, a pleasure for the eyes away from today’s hurry. Here you live well, many choose the citadel for their wedding album photos.”

Feltrino Dolomites in Iconemi project
Claudio from Arina © Ruggero Alberti

“Land of freedom this. I no longer wait until Friday to finish the week like my 20 years before, in a shed on the plain. Now I grow beans, saffron, and raise sheep. We’re back full time.”

Feltrino Dolomites in Iconemi project
Pierino from Aune © Ruggero Alberti

“When I was five years old I hid while the Germans were burning the village, up there near the Crot de Mugnègo, on the Tonal mountain.”

Text: Ivan Kuznetsov

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