Cristina Faramo is deeply engaged in a spiritual journey brought to life through her photography. Her subtle and intimate photographic investigation on natural and urban landscapes; on men and women features, is the outgrowth of a personal exploration and research on the existence and the power of Nature. Her work has been exhibited in festivals and published worldwide in magazines such as Stern, Vision, Burn and Rolling Stone. In 2009, “In The Mood For Love,” a project that explores the intensity of human relationships, was nominated as a finalist at the Emerging Photographer Fund by the Magnum Cultural Foundation.
The driving force pushing her towards the discovery of places and faces around the world comes from the same source of the passion that keeps her tied to her land. Born in Catania, Sicily, on the hillside of Mount Etna, Cristina Faramo has dedicated one of her most intrinsic and profound photographic projects to a pilgrimage aimed at the volcano’s summit.

“Quod est inferius, est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius, est sicut quod est inferius: ad perpetranda miracula rei unius” – Hermes Trismegistus
The alarm went off at four in the morning; it was still dark, but that was the best way to have the sun accompanying me on the ascent. I grabbed my Leica M, some fruit and water, put on trekking shoes and a wind jacket – the tools I needed to face the lava flows and the wind that blows on Etna. I took off along one of the paths that go up the eastern side of the volcano, as I wanted to see the sun illuminate the side of the mountain right under my eyes.
“When the sun rises, the top of the mountain is illuminated, but the valley is still overshadowed. It represents how at the same time the human condition contemplates the divine light while those below are still immersed in darkness. In the universe everything is one. As reasoning falls into this unity, it represents a formidable instrument of research.” – G.I. Gurdjieff
In the beginning I started off focused and did not stop. I was able to take some shortcuts, which were steeper and more tiring, but I kept climbing my way up with graceful agility. Around me there was no other human presence. September is one of the best months to ascend the Etna; there are fewer excursionists and the temperature is warm enough for a pleasant journey.

Chestnut and oak trees started to thin out, making room for an endemic plant typical to Etna: the Spino Santo. Also known as astragaleto, it encircles the volcano like a dark green crown and confirms I have reached 2,000 meters. The rest of the ground is bare and dark. Here and there, a few bushes are blooming with small yellow and purple flowers. I took a short break to drink some water and eat a fruit, but that was not where I wanted to shoot, so I continued on my way taking a path leading upwards. My steps were slower and the air got harder to breathe.
In the silence I could hear my breathing and feel it taking full control of my body and mind. I could sense the uprightness of my breath and feel all the fatigue. The ground at this point was practically deserted and dark, interrupted only by moss and lichen, the only vegetation that can grow in such extreme conditions. There, the basaltic lava is stained grey and yellow-orange.
I am at the top. The wind blows on the naked body of Etna making me feel cold and naked as well. The air wipes out the volcanic smoke composing a lunar scenery and I gaze upon the Etna like a lover stares at his partner after making love. The feeling is calm and passionately detached, but at the same time there is a profound intimacy and understanding of being part of the same miracle. One with the universe, one with life.
Going up my Etna I reconcile with the deepest truth of existence, from the base to the top. In silence and completely absorbed with this huge mountain, I am part of the unity. Under my feet I feel the strength it carries within, the rudimentary fire, the sacred flames from where the world began. In Sicily we are born with “the volcano on our heads.” We are born with a fire inside of us and this energy that dominates our lives throughout the centuries.
-Cristina Faramo
To see more of Cristina’s work, check out her website.