observing itself, their own and other's behav-
iour and defi ning what they observe by starting
They were also invited to express their
opinions and expectations about the tourist
reality of the territory, to measure their con-
sciousness about their being a tourist resource.
In particular, visual sociology is characterized
by the use of images in the research process and
enables activation of the relational circle between
researchers and interviewees with the richness of
human communication (verbal and non-verbal),
and in the effi cient integration between images
and words (Watzlawick et al ., 1967).
In this particular case, the fundamental assum-
ption that let the researchers chose visual socio-
logy was the visually remarkable quality of the
phenomenon studied (Curry and Clark, 1981) -
Levanto and its identity as a tourist resource.
chose 16 photos representing the thematic areas
that came out during interviews. Those images
were treated as visual indicators and were used
during a focus group as a photoelicitation tech-
nique in the second step. The thematic areas -
visualized through photo-indicators - coincide
with the research hypothesis in which the
research aims were divided. So, to grant the cor-
rect course of the following step, visual indica-
tors were associated to a scheme of interview
constructed by the thematic areas.
The empirical sample group was composed of
six different groups of interviewees chosen by
our client according to socio-personal and resi-
dence heterogeneity criteria. Focus groups were
realized using the photoelicitation technique, i.e.
showing images chosen by researchers - as visual
indicators of the previous step - associated with
the same scheme of interview for every group.
The interviewees' sample comprised a rep-
resentative sample of 39. This aspect is also
accorded by the heterogeneity (of age, socio-
economic status, place of residence) of the focus
group members that made it possible to treat
the research themes following the different
observation perspectives of interviewees.
The verbal narratives collected during
interviews were linked back to what was said by
interviewees regarding the thematic areas that
came out from the single interviews and were
associated with visual indicators. Thematic
areas and corresponding visual indicators were
used as outline interview during the focus
groups to construct 'Levanto's gaze', as shown
in the following paragraphs.
Native image making and interviews
with photoelicitation with the
fi rst group of inhabitants
The research involved a fi rst group of interview-
ees composed of six Levanto inhabitants, cho-
sen by the research clients and who had agreed
to be part of the research.
According to our theoretical assumptions,
the researchers chose two of the most impor-
tant procedures of visual sociology (Cipolla and
Faccioli, 1993; Faccioli, 2001): native image
making and interview with photoelicitation.
The interviewees were asked to take some
shots representing their way of seeing and living
Levanto on the basis of a precise request: trying
to be in the shoes of a tourist describing 1 week's
holiday in Levanto, taking photos of it and giv-
ing them a title.
In this manner, it was possible to construct
a common framework for all interviewees and,
more importantly, it made possible the construc-
tion of their own visual narrative to share with
the researchers. These images were then used
as the key prompts during photoelicitation inter-
views. Starting with images and their autobio-
graphic sense, the interviews elicited some
generalizations defi ning the most remarkable
themes of Levanto's life-experience to plan the
second step of the research.
After the fi rst set of interviews and the anal-
ysis of native images made, the researchers
The complex life-experience of Levanto's inhabit-
ants follows a very rich and varied series of rea-
soning. So it is not possible to give unique answers
to the questions asked at the beginning of the
research, even if the articulation of discourses and
narratives collected and analysed shows us a way
of reasoning to be particularly interesting and
useful. Treating life-experience means treating
human beings that - using a brilliant defi nition by
the German scientist and philosopher Heinz von