Born with her feet in the ground, she wanted to be an Etruscologist, "not very original for someone who lives between Florence and Siena". The parents' house is surrounded by Etruscan tombs. "I learned to swim well quite late, around 11 years old. Nothing sent me to the sea." A simple diving course after a search caused the click.
The first wreck
"It was in 1993, as part of my master's degree, off Livorno. It was in several pieces, transported ceramics of the eighteenth century. I remember every little colorful plate, large jars that could carry up to 3,000 liters of wine. It's fascinating, a wreck: you have a photograph of a specific moment when everything stopped. As a researcher, you reconstruct the history of trade, you find amphorae that bear stamps and tell you about a manufacturer, you trace human activity linked to historical facts. I really like terrestrial archaeology, but in the water you evolve in three dimensions, you are suspended. It's like mindfulness meditation: you hear your breath, you're in your bubble, isolated, but you have to worry about your team around. That aspect is very beautiful."
Franca Cibecchini discovers, while diving, treasures, witnesses of history. Ph. Soubias
Within the Department of Underwater and Underwater Archaeological Research (Drassm), she leads the management of submerged heritage. "I have to protect it from submarine cables, from fishermen, make it known. Everything at sea belongs to the state and therefore to everyone. Saying "you are destroying a common wealth", restoring this information helps a lot to raise awareness, appropriate and respect this heritage. I started at the age of 20: I remember some dive instructors picking up everything they could find and shooting at everything they saw, that's no longer the case. Young people prefer to take pictures. Man's relationship to the sea has changed a little. And today some acts are punishable under criminal law!"