Can You See all the Broken Beauty? (30 Photos)

Merryn and I have just returned from a holiday to the southern Italian town of Gallipoli. Having seen photos of it’s sixteenth-century Old Town built on a limestone island linked by bridge to the mainland, we were excited to visit.

At dusk the Old Town lived up to all the brochures’ descriptions.

A place of old-style charm with not a McDonalds in sight…

With friendly locals, and fishermen who tend their nets after the morning catch.

But we weren’t staying in the Old Town but the New Town. And there we saw something quite different.

Perhaps it was because we visited in winter, without the summer tourism Gallipoli thrives on. Perhaps it was the result of austerity measures. But there in the New Town we saw poorly built unit blocks crumbling away…

Children’s playgrounds overgrown with weeds…

And grocers setting up shop in front of Gallipoli’s many empty unit blocks. We didn’t see this in the brochures.

But look a little longer and you’ll still find beauty in Gallipoli’s messier parts. A different kind of beauty. A ‘broken beauty’.

It was a visit to Venice a couple years ago that first opened my eyes to broken beauty – a beauty found in streaked walls, peeling painted, crumbling mortar and decay.

I found that kind of beauty in Gallipoli’s New Town…

And especially in the backstreets of its Old Town.

Where faded paint looks quaint…

And flaky old doors have charm.

Where light and shape create interesting harmonies alongside the cracks…

And even a rusty old panel can look fine.

The most domestic of scenes can look ‘pretty’ if you look at them the right way.

A load of washing can be beautiful.

And back in the New Town with its weed-sprouting sidewalks…

Joyful surprises can appear.

Especially at Carnivale time, when all the floats come out…

And the kids dress up as fairies…

And Spidermen…

And princesses…

And spray each other with foam and confetti in the streets. But I digress…

This world is filled with beauty.

But brokenness too.

Yet, there is a beauty that can only be found in brokenness…

The kind of beauty One with nail-scarred hands loves to bring out of our flaky, stained, rusty, messy lives.


Question: Your general comments are welcome.

All photographs © Sheridan Voysey 2014


  • March 13, 2014

    The beauty was well captured by the beholder(s). If only these walls could speak, the tales they would tell. I believe that our perspective allows us to see the beauty etched in the decay and ruin. Not only in old structures and long forgotten places but also in people whose brokeness are apparent and in the elderly seemingly left without a trace of their former youth. We often miss the beauty in simplicity and the old due to our preocupation with the complexities of the new and modern. Beautiful pictures.

    • March 14, 2014

      Well put, Leah – your comments about the elderly especially.

  • March 13, 2014

    Sheridan and Merryn. I feel like I have just been on holiday with you. There truly is beauty (and strength) at the broken places. Thank you for sharing.

  • March 14, 2014
    Clare Alice

    So beautiful, and haha a touch of Sheridan humour in every post… thanks for digressing, the carnivale was fun 🙂 Love that last picture…

    • March 14, 2014

      Here’s another Carnivale confetti shot for you then 🙂

      • March 14, 2014
        Clare Alice

        Oh that picture is just a weird moment…
        That would be good for a caption competition… “GASP!! NO!! THIS CONFETTI HASN’T GOT ANY PURPLE BITS!! I WANT MY MONEY BACK!!!”

  • March 13, 2016

    So beautiful! 🙂 I loved the way you described things in Resurrection Year, and now we have photos to boot! You could seriously make a coffee table book with this sort of thing.

    • March 14, 2016

      Thanks for the encouragement, Greg. Actually, I would love to put together a photo book one day and have a few shots put aside. But I see so much good stuff on Instagram and the like and it’s hard to stay motivated on the idea. there’s just so much good stuff out there for free.


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