On Italy’s Adriatic coastline sits the Riviera Romagnola, a 68-mile stretch of seaside that has long been a favourite holiday destination for tourists and Italians alike. “This is a well known vacation spot that was very popular in the 70s and 80s when mass tourism boomed in Europe,” says Stefan Giftthaler, who spent time travelling in the beach-side region last summer shooting some of its resorts. The photographer was driven to create Riviera, his latest series, by nostalgia, and an interest in the unique, static nature of the hotels and their aesthetics. “What I immediately found interesting in these hotels is the fact that their architecture, furniture and atmosphere take you back to the 80s,” he explains, “to the time when my family and I went to similar hotels. Very often these hotels are small, family-run businesses with a very cosy atmosphere.”
Giftthaler’s shots hone in on the hotel’s interiors and uniform architecture, and are full of rich, satisfying hues – striped candy pinks, crisp sky blues and warm yellow shades dominate, punctuated by chintz wallpapers and blood orange-coloured cocktails. The overall impression is one of timelessness: though the resorts are distinctly of the 70s and 80s (Giftthaler notes that “the buildings’ façades and interiors – original vintage wallpapers and furniture pieces – are sometimes perfectly preserved by the original owners”) the film photographs could themselves have been taken in those decades, with their hazy quality, focus on the kitsch, unchanging retro details and distinct lack of people. The hotels “represent the typical Italian vintage holiday setting”, says the image-maker, describing how the rows of striped beach umbrellas and concrete tennis tables connote childhood summer holidays. Escapism at its very best.