Marco Bakker : "I first met Gianni Menichetti in 1999 when I was on holiday with my family in Italy and hoped to meet Vali Myers. When I phoned, Gianni told me Vali was still in Australia, but he said we were all very welcome to visit him in the valley. We were not sure how to get to his place, so I parked the car somewhere outside of Positano hoping to find someone who knew the way. My wife was still in the car when Gianni walked by with an enormous bag full of dog's food on his back. They both looked at each other intently and, although they hadn't seen each other before, there was instant recognition. We'd actually parked quite close to where Gianni and Vali lived, so we all made the climb up to their 'Wildlife Oasis', and this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

"Moorish Pavilion, Wild Life Oasis" (c) Lina Eve

Lina Eve: "It took me almost an hour to scramble up the rocky incline to the old pavilion. Gianni can leap up or down the rocky path in 10 minutes like a mountain goat. His legs are as strong as tree trunks! I was drenched in sweat by the time I finally reached the pavilion. The dogs welcomed me with joyful barking and the magic of the place was overwhelming.

Here life is lived at the edge, with huge precipices standing sentinel above and crashing torrents of water roaring past when the rains are heavy. One is made very aware that any moment could be the last, for as well as the isolated location, the treacherous pathway, and the overhanging cliffs, the valley is also home to venomous snakes. Gianni's wild canyon home is a far cry from the comfortable houses in the nearby town, or the hotels, such as the Britannia ones (http://www.britanniahotels.com/) but for Gianni, the valley, in its pristine wilderness, is the great love of his life, " His Savage Mistress"


Marco Bakker : "I took a series of photographs of Gianni and when Vali saw them some time later, she told me I could come whenever I wanted to take photographs of her, which I did, some six months later."

"Gianni Menichetti" (c) Marco Bakker

"I stayed in touch with both Vali and Gianni, and felt very privileged to know these remarkable people, who lived their lives as they wanted to , without making any concessions to what others thought, or how things 'ought to be'. And that is how it still is. Since Vali died, I visit Gianni once in a while and admire the way he lives his hard life with all the animals."

"Vali & Gianni" (c) Marco Bakker 2000

"Gianni with Dogs" (c) Marco Bakker 2000

"Gianni creates beautiful drawings and poems, and wrote a stunning book about Vali:
Vali Myers, A Memoir, I feel a deep respect for the way Gianni continually fights to save the valley from developers who are trying to destroy this wonderfully wild, natural place.

With love to Gianni,

Marco Bakker, photographer
The Netherlands

"Gianni & Marco" (c) Marion Bos

For more photos and fables of Gianni and his wild canyon home, click HERE