Bernardo Ricci Armani

Fuorisalone 2016 (Milan Design Week) – Bicycles Museum at Rossignoli Bike Shop

Milan (Italy). In these days, Milan seems “the place to be” – and not only for architecture lovers, trendy designers and unmissable hipsters. For sure, like every year around this period, the city attracts an incredible amount of people coming here to discover the latest tendencies in the sectors of furniture, lighting, decoration and home appliances.

I cannot miss the opportunity of keeping my eye (and my camera) on this interesting world of course, and I like to share what I’m seeing here in my photoblog (isn’t it its purposes?). What’s really impressive, for those people living here all the year, is assisting to a true and deep change in the city’s spirit: let me try to better express myself. Although I consider Milan as probably the most living, enjoyable, innovative and “sparkling” city in Italy (for sure, one of the best life quality), during the so called “design week” the “routine” goes through an authentic transformation, which means pulling out a completely new soul made not only of parties, events, vernissage, opening ceremonies and installations (these things are pretty normal – let me say) but made of a sense of general “discovery”. Yes, during the Fuorisalone’s week, Milan’s people (re)discover their city made of hidden courtyards, beautiful buildings (some of them exceptionally open to public), street decorations and so on. In other words, it looks like a sort of “inspirational wave” floods the city’s districts (not only the fashionable Brera or 5 Vie, but also Lambrate, Tortona etc.) to demonstrate that the urban environment can react to the daily routine, and transform the ordinary into something of extraordinary.

Of course there are critics: why it can’t be all the year? Why the next week – once the design events will be over – Milan will return to hide its beauty? I’m not in a position to answer; but as long as I see that this creative magma is still boiling under the city’s asphalt, the enthusiasm’s eruption of the design week is very, very welcome!

Let me stick on this photo, because behind it there’s an epic venture! I took it yesterday night during a walk under the rain. The bicycles shop “Rossignoli” in Corso Garibaldi was open to public, and – as every year – it exposes some legendary bikes such as the one photographed here and used by Gino Bartali during the Tour de France in 1948. That edition of the “Grande Boucle” was truly memorable! To make a long story short (but many books have been written on it) the 1948 edition was the first Tour de France for Bartali since his victory ten years before in 1938, and it came after a disappointing result at the Giro d’Italia: for this reason, he started the race not as favorite. However, he won the first stage leading the race and taking a low profile together with the whole Italian team. After the ninth stage, the lead was taken by Louison Bobet, with more than nine minutes on the second place. But it was a very short domination, since in the tenth stage Bobet lost time and Belgian cyclist Roger Lambrecht reduced the margin to 29 seconds.

Bringing the focus back on Gino Bartali, after the twelfth stage, his distance from the leader of the race was 21 minutes and 28 seconds! Just try to imagine what it can mean, and how was the feeling of the Tuscan cyclist: it’s not surprising that – considering his position – Bartali was sure that his race was compromised and thought about quitting the tour. But that night – here’s when sport becomes history – Bartali received a phone call: I like imagining the scene; he was in bed, tormented by his thoughts on the race, but on the other side of the line there’s was Alcide De Gasperi, Prime Minister of Italy. De Gasperi told him that a few days earlier Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Italian Communist Party, had been shot by a terrorist: this episode caused popular turmoils and Italy was on the edge of a civil war. For this reason, De Gasperi asked Bartali to do his best to win a stage, because the sport news might distract people from the politics. Bartali replied that he would do better.

The next day, Bartali won the stage (number 13) with a large margin, jumping at the second position in the general classification and trailing by only 66 seconds. The days after (stages 14 and 15) he won again, and took over the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification. Bobet was now in second place with several minutes behind. In the sixteenth stage his direct competitors lost time, so he increased his lead to 32 minutes! From that moment, his lead was never endangered, the Italian excitement about the Tour de France increased, and the political tensions quieted.

So, photographing the bicycle of this epic venture was worth the walk under the rain… wasn’t it?

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At the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow

Moscow (Russia). Now that I created the new tag “Moscow”, I should feed it with more and more posts from my recent short-but-intense weekend there. Here there is a photo literally “captured” inside the Cathedral of the Annunciation, a wonderful Orthodox Church located inside the Kremlin and characterized by stunning but elegant paintings on the walls and on the ceiling.

To take this image I used the iPhone app for Leica Q – which works perfectly – so after connecting the camera with the phone, I was able to remotely control it, finding all the camera settings and adjustments directly in the phone’s screen. I think this is a great feature for street photographers (both authentic ones and wannabes like me) because it gives complete freedom to shot in some restricted environments, as well as to get closer to people without being noticed or without pointing the camera at their face. Considering that in these days people do not like being photographed – and some overreact – this feature and this app may save my life…

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RER B at Drancy (from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris)

Paris (France). I have been using the RER B between the Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Paris downtown for some years. Every time I try to find a window seat because I like watching the city’s “banlieu” (the periphery), how it progressively changes getting closer to the heart of Paris, how people live and work in those neighborhoods, so different from the city I’m approaching. It gets easily something like a movie, being the window a large screen…

Sometimes through the window I like to shoot some photos: just random captures of stations and people – if any – waiting for their train, talking each other, playing with their phones or listening to some music. There isn’t a specific idea behind this action of photographing something which is totally decontextualized (does this word exist?) from my usual style. Or maybe the reason is exactly this: trying to describe the unknown, eventually working with my fantasy to build a story behind each situation.

The result is a set of just random shoots of what I see, linked each other only by the fact that they have been captures on the RER B from Paris, Aeroporte Charles de Gaulle and Paris Chatelet des Halles.

Here I was stopped at Drancy station, for example. I like people the architecture of the station, with its geometries, and the man climbing the ladder to leave this place. Everyone is free to find her own story behind this situation. I already have mine…

I will consider shooting some more photos in the future.


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Backstage of the Set for the New Leica SL Test

Milan (Italy). This is a sort of “double post”, because it refers to another one – here.

Why a double post? Because today I had the privilege of trying and testing the new Leica SL camera, with its lens Leica Vario Elmarit SL 24-90 mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH, and I decided to write one post about the camera itself, and another one – this one – about the experience (this photo comes from the backstage).

The event was very well organised: not too crowded and with professional photographers explaining the functions and characteristics of the new Leica SL camera. Participants could test the camera in a professional studio with some lights and a model. At the beginning I was a bit “frightened” by the context and by the situation. Finding myself in a very specialised environment with professional photographers was something of totally new for me, and testing a camera in a fully equipped studio was an unusual experience – I’m much more comfortable on the street, in a museum, or in any case in a more informal environment. But at the end I can say that I’ve really enjoyed this experience, and it’s one of the principal takeaway of today…

As said at the beginning of this post, my feelings about this camera are here.

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At the Erzurum Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque)

Erzurum (Turkey). In these days I’m traveling around Turkey, and today as I finished to work I decided to have a walk along the central Cumhuriyet Caddesi in Erzurum. Along this street there are some of the most beautiful buildings of the entire Turkey, and one of my favourite is the Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque). I already had been here some years ago, so I was quite familiar with the building and the interior. But – as it happened the first time I stepped in – I was impressed by the mysticism and the sense of peace it can transmit. I sat in a corner and I looked at the few people inside: I decided then to shoot this photograph, because I thought that there was a perfect light for a perfect moment. A man was praying close to the Minbar, his small body – illuminated by a tenue light – was contrasting with the big columns and the fierce and austere interior of the building. The entire scene was unique, and I thought it was something I needed to capture…

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The Fountain at the Baku Museum Center

Baku (Azerbaijan). When I enjoy some street photography and I try to capture images of people doing something interesting around me, I also like to imagine what they could think in that exact moment. And the same happens when I watch the shooted photos, as well as when I spend some time (not too much to be honest) in editing them.

Here I was walking around Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. It was a warm late afternoon and a lot of people were around walking along the nice corniche on the Caspian Sea. In front of a beautiful neoclassical building, there was an imponent and elegant fountain, and a young child was standing in front of it, almost hypnotized by the water flowing high in the sky.

I staid some seconds behind him, as said imagining what he was possibly thinking – or even dreaming, let me say. Everyone knows how much children can fly with their imagination, seeing what adults cannot see anymore… At the same time I captured this image, and the child’s silhouette helped me to give the idea of how big and imponent was the fountain.

It was a nice moment and today it’s still a sweet memory of few days spent in Baku for some meetings. And I’m happy to share it here on my blog with my followers.

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Crossing the Euphrates River

Erzincan (Turkey). I’m just back from a business trip in the central-east part of Turkey. I had the privilege of driving for several kilometers along an off-road track adjacent the Euphrates river. During an adventurous cross I took the photo of this interesting bridge, but I’m not sure it is able to transmit the same emotions I had.

At lunch time, with the whole team I had a break; we ate lamb, rice and some vegetables very close to the river, and I must admit that I was hypnotized by the Euphrates. When I was watching its water flowing fast and fierce in front of me, I was thinking about how legendary can be a river. The Euphrates – together with the Tigris – was shaping the Fertile Crescent and it gave the input to the development of some of the earliest human civilizations. For many centuries, the history was gravitating around this region and along the Euphrates, and its role was much beyond the one of a common river. Even the Holy Bible mentions the Euphrates as one of the four rivers coming from the Eden garden.

Today, the Euphrates flows from Turkey to some important cities in Syria and Iraq: unfortunately, most of them are not safe places to be visited for the well known recent events related to ISIS (or ISIL or DAESH) but one of my thoughts, before proceeding with my business trip after lunch, was that I dream – one day – to extend my tour along the Euphrates and discover those places where – we can imagine – all of us have their origins.

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