The Sacred Valley of the Inca

A family lights candles in a church after Mass on Sunday. The Catholic Church still has a strong presence, though most of the people are Quechua. (Alessandro Cinque/GroundTruth)

I have been drawn to places around the world that are far away from the effects of globalization. I was drawn to the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru, a gorge that runs east to west along the Urubamba River from the Incan ruins at Písac to Machu Picchu. Elevations in the valley range from between approximately 10,000 feet to 6,700 feet at the low end near Machu Picchu. It was the heart of Andean agriculture and the spiritual center of the Inca empire.

I was most struck by the vast open spaces of the Sacred Valley — the distance between villages. Each village is composed of a few families, and families are big here, from the oldest grandparents to the smallest grandchildren. They live together and work together to sustain the household.

I spent over two weeks avoiding the tourist trails to live rough and close to the people who still inhabit the Sacred Valley. I stayed with families and had meals with them. I was always among the people, not sleeping much and walking a lot, moving up and down the Valley, taking every chance to talk with the people. I felt a great bond with them as the trust between us grew. I felt completely free to move among them. I was inside the scene without disturbing it. I discovered the role of nature and its primary elements in the villagers lives, and how they remain attached to their ancient roots and the soil itself.

About the Photographer

Alessandro Cinque was born in 1988 in Orvieto, Italy. He took his first photos when he was 16. At twenty, he opened his own studio in Florence where he works as a commercial photographer. He recently began to move towards reportage and photojournalism, starting collaborations with NGOs and traveling around the world.

Alessandro’s work has been published by newspapers and magazines, including 
Corriere della Sera, Sette, Gazzetta dello Sport, The Sunday Times, Libèration, Africa, Eastwest and Focus. In February 2017, Alessandro published his first photobook, INCIPIT.

Alessandro’s work has been recognized in international photography competitions: he won an honorable mention at the 2017 MIFA Awards and the Monochrome Photography Awards. He was among the finalists at Festival Fotografia Etica di Lodi. His photo essay “Sacred Valley of the Incas” won the Award for Excellence in Feature Picture Story at POYi in 2018. He is also a Leica Ambassador.

In addition to his work, Alessandro leads photography workshops in India, Morocco and Myanmar.