Gianvito Fanelli is a designer and after ten years living in Milan he finally decided to return to his hometown, Conversano (Puglia), living la vita lenta. Sheets drying in the streets, people enjoying the sound of the sea, pasta cooking slowly, the Mediterranean landscape… these are examples of Vita lenta, ‘a quiet place on the internet’. A place that collects and invites stillness and a touch of nostalgia. Gianvito shows us that there’s art in daily life and magic in routine. He finds a way to stop time, and inspires us to do the same.
Hi Gianvito. Can you tell us about yourself and how the idea of ‘Vita lenta‘ came to be?
It’s always difficult to define myself. For the sake of brevity I will say that I’m a designer, but the things I do are often outside my field. I lived for ten years in Milan, where I studied and started working. In June 2020 I moved back to Puglia, my home region. After the second Covid outbreak I permanently left my house in Milan in March of 2021, and rented one in Conversano (Puglia).
The idea for Vita lenta was born in 2018, when I started posting stories on my Instagram account with the copy ‘Vita lenta‘ (slow living). It came to fruition in April 2020, with the opening of the dedicated Instagram profile in the midst of the lockdown. The pandemic prompted me to make a choice I had long kept in the drawer.
What were your expectations for this project and what’s the main goal of ‘Vita lenta’? What do you hope to convey?
I had no particular expectation, except to communicate a message and an aesthetic idea. The goal was to investigate a possible life alternative, firstly for myself. I’d long been thinking about the concepts of boredom and productivity at work when I returned to southern Italy. Slow living is not just something that you can find, like places on holiday. It’s about life choices and state of mind, and can be found wherever you are.
With technology and social media, life seems to have become increasingly hectic. How does ‘Vita lenta’ help people find balance and slow down?
I think it can show people that other options exist. The risk of it becoming just a dream or a ‘digital refuge’ is real. There are more people who, thanks to this profile, have started reflecting on their own lives and priorities. I can see that in the many direct messages I receive every day.
Your community is growing on Instagram. When did the profile start gaining visibility? How, now, do you handle interactions with your followers, and how do you engage your community to foster a sense of belonging?
I am not a fan of data and numbers. I think a year after the profile launched it began to expand out of my inner circle, first within Italy and then abroad. A Polish Instagram profile once reposted one of my posts, which led to an increase of followers from Poland. Today they represent about 6% of my followers.
Managing a relationship with an online community is not easy. The number of followers, messages and comments I now get is impressive. I try as much as possible to interact with them when I consider it appropriate. A nice or critical comment always deserves a response. On Vita lenta there is no room for a disruptive approach. ‘Slow life’ also means having a ‘slow’ (or relaxed) approach to dialogue, one which involves sincere listening and reflection.
What are your future plans? Do you have any short-term goals or things you’d like to achieve? Are you looking to expand beyond Instagram and monetise it?
At the moment I’m trying to expand to other channels, and to make the narrative deeper and more three-dimensional. I’ve just recorded a podcast on ‘slow tourism’.
Do you have a specific marketing strategy? Design wise, is there a philosophy behind the aesthetic of Vita lenta?
There’s no strategy except to adhere as sincerely as possible to my original vision. When we talk about the philosophy of the aesthetic, it’s not always visible, and I don’t think it always has to be explicit. I like to leave the interpretation to people. I can say that, very often, theirs matches mine.
Our theme at the magazine for September was ‘Equilibrium’. How do you think your project contributes to this concept?
Vita lenta is not a model necessarily for everyone. Yet the success of the Instagram account shows that it definitely is for many people. It merely opens a door to a lifestyle model, one which shows people that a better balance can be found.
Featured image: Vita lenta on Instagram