Born in Bari, Italy, Elia began his career as a journalist in the late 1990s, covering the Middle East and the Balkans, migration and memory. He is one of the founders of PeaceReporter and E, Emergency’s monthly magazine, where he worked as a correspondent from 2003 to 2012.
He has covered conflicts and human rights violations from the Gaza Strip to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Kurdistan. His reportage has spanned more than forty countries, has been published by all the main Italian newspapers, and has won the Baldoni prize in 2011, the Journalists of the Mediterranean prize in 2012, the IMMaginario Festival prize in 2012, the il Reportage prize in 2017, and the #dipubblicodominio prize in 2018.
With Angelo Miotto, he founded in 2013 and currently directs Q Code Mag, an online and print magazine specializing in narrative journalism, networking over 300 freelancers from around the world. In 2022, he became the director of ArabPop, a magazine dedicated to contemporary arts and literature as an expression of socio-cultural movements in the Arab world. He has been a longtime consultant for Emergency’s special communication projects, and for the Municipality of Lampedusa, currently consults on a project that unites border municipalities across Europe. Since 2013 he has also been the coordinator of “Meglio di un Romanzo” (“Better than Fiction”), the narrative journalism under 30 section for Festivaletteratura in Mantua.
With Milieu Edizioni he has published Il respiro di Poveglia [Poveglia’s Breath] (2017), Walking the line (2018), Oltre i muri [Beyond the Walls] (2019), and Gran Padre: Viaggio nella memoria dell’Albania [Big Father: A Journey into Albania’s Memory] (2022).