Ortensia Visconti Born into the world of Italian cinema, Ortensia Visconti has spent her life in the arts. She studied French and Comparative Literature at the Sorbonne and at the London School of Photojournalism.
In 2000, she traveled to Algeria as a reporter for the Washington Post where she covered the country's rupturing democracy as it was engulfed in riots, violently fighting the last battles of the civil war that had plagued the country for nearly a decade. After Algeria, she traveled to Palestine on behalf of the Washington Post. It was in Palestine, during the second Intifada, that she began reporting as a journalist filing copy for Italian newspapers from Gaza, Ramallah, Hebron and Jerusalem.
Her career as a war reporter took her to Afghanistan in 2001 where she traveled with the Northern Alliance documenting the fall of Kabul and the American military response to September 11th for la Repubblica and Il Messagero. She spent seven years reporting on Afghanistan, crossing into Pakistan's tribal areas and northern borders, writing not only on the constantly unfolding war but also on the plight of Afghan women. In 2003 she began to split her time between Afghanistan and Iraq as a new theater of war opened up in the Middle East. She covered the fall of Basra for la Repubblica and Italian television.
Her multi dimensional talents have allowed her to cross countless barriers and boundaries. Her photographs from Afghanistan were exhibited in Rome and Paris, her reportage carried by numerous leading American and European dailies, and in 2004 she published her first novel, Stregonesco. Described as 'Twin Peaks set in provincial Italy', Stregonesco is a dark thriller that tells the story of an Algerian migrant boy accused of homicide in the Italian countryside. Finding parallels in her non-fiction prose, the novel deals with the ignorance and prejudice of closely guarded cultures.
Three years later Ortensia contributed to two cuban projects, the first an anthology of letters published to politicians. Ortensia wrote hers to Fidel Castro.
That same year in Havana, she was the co-director and co-writer and producer of a documentary film dealing with the future of Cuba and the legacy of Castro's rule on the communist island. Fidelity opened the London film festival the following year and has been broadcasted on numerous Spanish and South American television channels since.
Based in London, Ortensia has returned to fiction with L'Idée Fixe, a series of twelve short stories looking at twelve of the world's modern cities through the lens of sex. People and the struggles they face across cities like Kabul, Nairobi, Amsterdam and Shanghai are the foundation of L’Idée Fixe, whose diverse themes branch out to globalization, politics and the strains of sexual identity and freedom. Her work is featured in Desire, an anthology of erotic literature edited by Mariella Frostrup and The Erotic Review.
Her most recent book is Malalai (2020).