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“It was comforting as a young child to have her so close.”




As a child, Laura Mattioli would play outside her school and call up to her mother in their home across the street.

Each day Mattioli’s mother came to the window and responded with a wave and a smile.

“It was comforting as a young child to have her so close,” Mattioli responded

Little did Mattioli know, years later she would go on to travel the world – Spain, Denmark, England, the United States and Brazil - separated from her mother. Throughout her journeys, however, she always had her Italian culture and language to help remind her of home.

It was difficult for Mattioli, 26, to be away from her mother and friends in her hometown of Pesaro, Italy, her homepage. She comforts herself by teaching the Italian language, bringing her back to her cultural roots.

Many young Italians who venture beyond their ancestral homes don’t return to live as adults. But Mattioli has returned to Pesaro to be with her family, bringing back lessons from around the world.

In Pesaro, she has the bare necessities, and she is happy because she is surrounded by relatives and friends who love her and because her roots are there. But this doesn’t mean she wants to stay forever.

She was seventeen when she first left the country. Mattioli and a friend stayed with a family in London looking after their three children. It was Mattioli’s first time on her own.

“I learned that life is beautiful,” she said.

After six months in London, Mattioli returned to Pesaro briefly. Then she went to Brazil.

In Brazil, she learned to speak Portuguese and settled in the capital Sao Paulo for two and a half months. She taught Italian in a private school.

Mattioli found Sao Paulo to be much different then any other city she had ever visited.

“It has the second largest population in the world, it rains frequently and the people who live there drown themselves in work, although the workaholics are not really Brazilian,” she said.


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"I learned that life is beautiful."

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The Brazilian people that Laura came to love and know live in tiny shacks on the beach. They showed her how unnecessary the materialistic items that we surround ourselves with truly are. Mattioli saw the real way to enjoy life, to be thankful for the air that fills her lungs and for the people in her life who love her.

“I got to lay on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world,” Mattioli said. “I swam with dolphins and learned how to make macrame jewelry.”

Through Laura’s journeys she has attempted to diminish the linguistic barrier that separates cultures.

Mattioli attended Linque e Letterature Straniere, the University of Foreign Languages in Urbino, Italy. She received a degree in English and Spanish, so that she could teach foreigners and students in public schools.

Mattioli received a scholarship to study abroad at SUNY New Paltz in New York. As an exchange student she was required to teach one Italian class and in return she was given room and board while she continued her education.

While studying in New Paltz in 2001, Mattioli vacationed in New York City for a weekend. She visited the twin towers of the World Trade Center three days prior to the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Knowing that her only daughter had planned on staying in New York City, Mattioli’s mother was left in a state of panic after the attack. Despite many phone lines being down, Mattioli was able to contact her mother via e-mail to let her know that she was safe.

One of her dearest friends in New York, Diana Seiler, was a photo major. Seiler taught Mattioli the basic functions of a camera and taught her everything she needed to get started in photography.

The day Mattioli returned to Italy she joined a group where she could learn more about photography. She and one of her childhood friends from Pesaro, Daniela Paolini, built a darkroom in Mattioli’s home. There they experiment with different mediums and developing techniques.



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“I have a photography book that I read to learn more,” Mattioli said. “However, in photography experimenting is a good way to learn.”

Laura’s favorite part about photography is watching the image appear when the paper is placed in the developer.

“Knowing that I am able to create something is amazing,” Mattioli stated. “What someone doesn’t like, someone else considers a piece of art."

Mattioli also traveled to Valencia, Spain, to take pictures and study Spanish.



During her university years, she went to Denmark on an exchange program to take a class on Shakespeare. As she was unfamiliar with the Danish language, she settled for a job as a house cleaner.

Being in a foreign country without close family or friends can be difficult, but Mattioli managed to get through her loneliness by learning about herself.

Mattioli returned to Italy for short periods between journeys, trying to earn money for her next adventure. And every time she returns to Italy, she has a new outlook on life. Mattioli is currently planning to work towards her masters degree that would expand her teaching qualifications.

“I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life,” Mattioli said, “but ideally I would love to spend the summer in Pesaro where I could teach Italian and spend the winter months in Brazil where I would own a juice bar on the beach.”


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Cagli Project 2005

Story by: Cassie Robinson

Photos by: Berit Baugher

Video by: Monica

Webdesign by: Taylor Mikolasy