To escape the crowds of tourists in Venice I headed to the offshore islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. When the ferry docked at Burano the church bell was tolling. I wandered around for the next hour or so with my two cameras; my trusty old medium-format Yashicaflex loaded with black and white film and my SLR loaded with colour transparency film. It was a sunny, crisp morning in autumn, perfect weather for taking photographs. I sat on a seat deliberating whether I would take the next ferry to Torcello or spend more time on Burano.
At that moment the double doors of the church opened and a coffin was carried down the steps and placed on a bier. The bell had tolled relentlessly throughout the service. As the people filed from the church they formed a line behind the coffin which was being wheeled along a narrow path. They were heading toward a timber bridge to cross to a small island where the cemetery was located. Most of the mourners were either teenagers or people in their early twenties; it was obviously the funeral of one of their friends.
A hush came over the bystanders waiting for the ferry. We all stood with bowed heads as the procession passed by. It was like a scene from a black and white Fellini film as they crossed over the bridge. This was a very moving experience and one I will never forget, but it was a scene that I could not photograph. After they had disappeared from sight I photographed where I had been sitting.
Yashicaflex 635, medium format, Delta Professional film 400 ISO.
Top ten in the ‘Italian Benches’ in The Other side of Italy group.