An eye for the Ultra: Inter Milan, Italian football culture and style | Francesca Scandella

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It’s a family affair for photographer Francesca Scandella. She attributes her love of all things Inter Milan to her grandfather, and her love of analogue photography to her uncle.

“I’m an FC Inter fan since I was born,” said Scandella. “I grew up with my grandfather Mario who is a massive Inter fan so for me it was easy and very spontaneous to follow his footsteps.”

Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella

Jose Mourinho is right up there when it comes to naming her San Siro favourites.

“If I have to mention my idols of the past I have to say the whole 2009-2010 team because Inter won the Triplete under the guidance of Mourinho (I’m obsessed with him) and we are the first (and I hope the last) team in Italy to have reached this goal,” she said.

Diego Milito, Zlatan Ibraimovich (despite currently being on his 2nd spell for rivals AC), Samuel Eto’o and Julio Cesar all get a mention, as does Ronaldo – R9 of course. 

Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Baggio
© Francesca Scandella

Inter club photographer Tony Brugnoli has become something of an inspiration, but it was an uncle who first helped steer her on her freelance photography path.

“I’ve always loved to take nice pics but I’ve never studied photography (not in an academic way) and before February 2022 I never took photography seriously,” she said.

“But at the beginning 2022 I was at my uncle’s house and I saw a box full of old analogue diapositives (transparencies) from his trip to Africa and I asked him to show me them with the projector.

“I literally fell in love with analogue photography. My uncle saw me so excited that he decided to give me his camera, a Nikon F80.

“It was Woman’s Fashion Week. My roommate who works in fashion suggested I go and try some street photography.”

Armed with her uncle’s camera and her first roll of film, Scandella had low expectations, but could hardly wait to get her first 36 shots developed, running to the lab.

“I was so happy to see that I made some nice pictures and from that day it became part of me,” she enthused.

“With analogue photography it’s like I found a way to channel my artistic vein.”

Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella

“My goal is when someone comes across a picture taken by me they can recognise that it’s mine. It’s about personality and being different, I’m always trying to stand out because there are so many good photographers, and I want to be unique.”

Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan versus Bayern Munich in the Champions League. 07.09.22 © Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella

For this most recent project, focusing on the stadiums and the atmosphere inside and out of the grounds she used an Olympus Mju 1.

“I had to find a very small film camera because my favourites shots are those that we call “stolen shots” so I needed something discreet and silent, but also with a nice lens. The Olympus was love at first sight.”

A Milan derby presented a first opportunity of putting an increasing love of photography to the test. It ended in defeat for Inter, but Scandella found the whole experience rewarding. 

She recalled: “It was a Milan derby so the most important match for Interisti and Milanisti fans and unfortunately we didn’t win, so I wasn’t very lucky, but it was cool anyway.

“I am a big fan of football in general, starting from the shirts, the atmosphere of the stadium, the architecture, the feeling of being part of a big family.

“Fashion – street fashion mostly – is another great passion of mine so I love vintage football shirts and I also love the fact that in recent years football kits have become part of the street fashion culture.”

Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella

“I am a big fan of football in general, starting from the shirts, the atmosphere of the stadium, the architecture, the feeling of being part of a big family.”

Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Inter Milan. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella

There is an element of all that in a personal favourite from Scandella’s portfolio.

“My favourite (photo) is the one about “La Salernitana” which shows a fan from the back with the “ULTRAS” t-shirt,” she said.

Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
© Francesca Scandella

Joining Inter’s Toni Brugnoli as a photographic inspiration are Sonya Kondratenko, the media director of Venezia FC, contributing Vogue street photographer Julien Boudet and gritty documentary photographer Boogie.

“I think the most important thing is to have a personal trait,” she said. “My goal is that when someone comes across a picture taken by me they can recognise that it’s mine.

“It’s about personality and being different. I’m always trying to stand out because there are so many good photographers and I want to be unique and to show my vision.

“I think that a feminine point of view about (the men’s) football world could be very interesting.”

Francesca Scandella is at the start of her journey, which continues with an invitation from Venezia FC to attend and cover a game, as well as the opening of the club’s flagship store.

“I can’t wait to take some cool pictures,” she says. “I’m focused on shooting football. I want to see as many stadiums as I can.”

Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
U.S. Salernitana 1919 © Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
U.S. Salernitana 1919 © Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
U.S. Salernitana 1919 © Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
U.S. Salernitana 1919 © Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
U.S. Salernitana 1919 © Francesca Scandella
Salernitana. Italian football culture on film by Francesca Scandella
U.S. Salernitana 1919 © Francesca Scandella

Keep up with Francesca and her work on Instagram, where she can also be contacted directly for any commissions or collaborations.

If you enjoyed that, then check out Hertha BSC football fan culture, where photographer and supporter Kasimir Weichert focuses on fellow fans of his beloved ‘Die Alte Dame’, the culture around the club and within the historic Olympiastadion Berlin.

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