The Courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi

Florence (Italy). A fish-eye view of Palazzo Strozzi’s Courtyard. I have always considered this place as an example of “architectural perfection”: with its clean lines, harmonious proportions and soft tones, Palazzo Strozzi is a real jewel of the Renaissance period.

If you are a lucky owner of a 1,000 CHF note (more or less equivalent to 1,000 USD), before spending it just watch on one of the two sides: there’s a detail of Palazzo Strozzi (one of its mullioned paired windows, also called “bifore”).


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Buda Castle (Budapest By Night)

Budapest (Hungary). Budapest by night is a great photographic experience. This photo has been taken in 2011, long time ago: however, I still perfectly remember the vibrations that this city, so nicely illuminated when the sun goes down behind the right bank of the Danube river. The feeling was quite unique, and still today it’s a bit difficult to be described. In a certain sense – let me say – photographing Budapest by night was like photographing a woman that perfectly knows about her beauty, and that for this reason invites you to prepare your photo calmly, choosing the best possible composition and dedicating all the necessary attentions to transform just a click into an experience for your soul.

In detail, this was a photo captured at the Buda Castle, which overlooks the city and offers a perfect place for beautiful landscape views. But I was also intrigued by the castle itself, and I dedicated more than one shot to it. This is one of them.

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Roofs of Venice, With the St. Mark Campanile and Basilica

Venice (Italy). Sad. But true. I’m clearly neglecting my blog. Personal engagements are putting the creation of new posts in low-priority mode, and even photographing – one of the things I love the most – is a memory (or at least I’m photographing the works at my new apartment, which I guess it’s not something of common interest).

Let me share, then, a landscape taken in Venice some months ago: it was between Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, during an amazing sunny day around one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The photo has been taken from the terrace of a hidden building – the name is Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo – and to reach the top, visitors will climb a very peculiar multi-arch spiral staircase. The climb itself is a nice experience. But the view is literally breathtaking!

Venezia. Triste. Ma vero. Sto chiaramente trascurando il mio blog. Alcuni impegni personali sono prioritari rispetto alla scrittura di nuovi post, e anche fotografare – una delle cose che amo maggiormente fare – è un ricordo (mi limito a fotografare i lavori del mio nuovo appartamento, ma immagino non siano di interesse generale).

Condivido quindi un panorama fotografato a Venezia alcuni mesi fa: era tra Natale e Capodanno, durante una meravigliosa giornata di sole passata in giro per una delle più belle città del mondo. La foto è stata fatta dalla terrazza di un palazzo nascosto – il suo nome è Palazzo Contarini dal Bovolo – e per arrivare in cima i visitatori devono salire lungo una scala a chiocciola molto particolare. La salita stessa è un’esperienza interessante. Ma la vista di Venezia dall’alto toglie letteralmente il fiato!

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And Suddenly, Petra

Petra (Jordan). It happens that you walk for some kilometers, along a narrow and high canyon. So narrow that it seems its sides are touching each other in some points. So high that you don’t see the sky. And then… The canyon opens itself and discloses one of the most beautiful, breathtaking, unique place in the world. The Treasury is not only the symbol of Petra, in Jordan. But also one of the most incredible archaeological site you can see in your life… Simply amazing!

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At The Moscow Metro Station

Moscow (Russia). One of the Moscow “must see” is the network of its amazing metro stations. One normally thinks about a metro station simply as a transit place, where to catch or to get off from a train to move from a part of the city to another. Well, in Moscow it’s not exactly like this – at least, not only…

In fact, some metro stations in Moscow look like sumptuous underground buildings, completely decorated with mosaics, statues, chandeliers and frescoes. Once there, you are really motivated to stay and to enjoy the beauty of architectures and decorations. And of course every photographer should include these places for very intensive street photography sessions!

Before travelling to Moscow, as I usually do every time I’m preparing a trip, I spent some time on internet to learn something about the city and to select the best locations for photography. It’s a very exciting exercise, which somehow anticipates the flavor of the incoming trip; but it’s also very useful to optimize the available time – especially when the trip is squeezed in a weekend – as it was my case in Moscow. Of course, the result of my research anticipated me that most of the top ranking places were the metro stations; but when I then opened the proposed images, almost each of them was showing the stations completely without people, and exclusively focused on the artistic, decorative and architectural part. Therefore my “pre-impression” on Moscow metro stations was basically about wonderful locations, but – let me say – without soul, without stories, without daily lives: something closer to a theater scenic design than to a place where every day millions of people cross their life and stories.

Once there, I totally changed my mind: the most impressive thing was given by the mass of people, some of them walking in every direction, some others waiting on a bench. There was a world there underground, and I was so attracted by its inhabitants with their unknown stories, habits, lives. You could think that it’s the same in every metro station in the world: theoretically it’s true, but practically it isn’t. The context, given by the fantastic interiors, was somehow able to transform those de-facto public place into a theater, people into actors, lives into plots. It’s difficult to explain, unfortunately.

Of course, I could not resist too, and in every station I took also some “panoramic” photos; but at the end I selected this one here as one of my favorite, because it is able to give me the sense of life typical of those places. The lesson learnt is pretty clear…

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Afterwork at the Esplanade de la Defense n.3

Paris (France). I frequently spend my after-work time walking around La Défense, a place where I come frequently (even now I’m on a flight from Milan to Paris); and that I have been photographing for years (most of my photos at La Defense are posted under this tag expressly created). Every time I wonder the same questions about this place. Do I like it? Honestly, I don’t know. How it could be living here? I can hardly answer this question too, and I admit I find myself watching residents trying to understand how is the quality of their lives. But the question in absolute terms most difficult to answer is always the same: how will be this place in – I don’t know, let’s say – ten years?

Yet, I must admit that in terms of photography, La Defense is still one of the most interesting places to explore in Paris; its architectures and its urban development are worth being analysed with attention, especially because they reveal a sort of historical stratification. Since the end of the ’50s, with the construction of the CNIT (Centre des nouvelles industries et technologies) building, through the ’70s and the ’80s with buildings such as the Tour Areva and the Tour Total, until beginning of 2000 with the erection of more futuristic skyscrapers like the Tour EDF, La Defense has become the largest business park in Europe.

Very personally, the feeling I have when I walk along its extended “Esplanade”, between the Grand Arche and the fountain close to Neully-sur-Seine, is the one of a place that has begun a slow but relentless and conscious decadence (even if embellished by marvelous early fall sunsets), and that for some aspects is even proud of it, according to the most typical Parisian style. The economic crisis, which has not spared France, the competition with other “banlieues”, which are trying to attract similar developments, and the transportation network, which has already reached its maximum capacity and therefore can’t increase the number of commuters transported daily, are posing serious obstacles to the growth of this area and probably it couldn’t be different.

If it’s true that knowing the past is necessary to understand the future, I think that the future of La Defense is written into its glorious (albeit unique) past, in its having been a symbol for the 20th century’s city planners, but also a place that has lost its leadership in favor of new different models. But It is still a place that is worth being visited and photographed, possibly posing some questions: and if someone has the answer(s) to mine, I’d be glad to know it.

Parigi. La Defense è una zona di Parigi che frequento molto per lavoro (anche adesso sono su un volo da Milano a Parigi) e dove mi capita spesso di camminare: nel tempo ho scattato diverse fotografie, che pubblico qui nel blog con un tag appositamente creato, e ogni volta mi interrogo su come sia questo posto. Mi piace? Non lo so. Come potrebbe essere vivere qui? Anche questa sinceramente è una domanda a cui rispondo a fatica, tanto che – lo ammetto – mi ritrovo a guardare con curiosità i residenti, cercando di capire la qualità della loro vita. Ma la domanda in assoluto più difficile è sempre la stessa: come sarà questo posto tra – non so, diciamo – dieci anni?

Eppure, devo ammettere che dal punto di vista fotografico rimane uno dei posti più interessanti di Parigi da esplorare; le sue architetture e il suo sviluppo urbanistico meritano di essere osservate con attenzione, soprattutto perché rivelano una sorta di “stratificazione” storica. Tra la fine degli anni ’50, con la costruzione dell’edificio CNIT (Centre des nouvelles industries et technologies), attraverso gli anni ’70 e ’80 con edifici come la Torre Areva e la Torre Total, fino a inizio 2000 con la realizzazione di grattacieli più avveniristici (tra cui la Torre EDF), La Defense ha visto uno sviluppo che l’ha portata a essere il più grande centro direzionale d’Europa.

Molto personalmente, la sensazione che si ha camminando dopo una giornata di lavoro lungo la sua enorme “Esplanade”, dal Grand Arche alla fontana in prossimità di Neully-sur-Seine, è quella di un posto che ha iniziato una lenta ma inesorabile e consapevole decadenza (magari abbellita dai meravigliosi tramonti di inizio autunno), e che per certi aspetti riesce ad andare fiero di questa cosa, nel più classico stile parigino. La crisi economica che ha colpito anche la Francia, la competizione di altre zone della banlieue che cercano di attirare analoghi sviluppi urbanistici e la saturazione dei mezzi di trasporto che difficilmente potrebbero portare nuovi afflussi di persone, stanno creando dei seri ostacoli alla crescita di questa area, e probabilmente non potrebbe essere diversamente.

Se è vero che per capire il futuro bisogna conoscere il passato, penso che il futuro di questo posto sia scritto nella sua storia gloriosa ma irripetibile, nel suo essere stato un luogo simbolo per l’urbanistica del ventesimo secolo ma che oggi ha perso la sua leadership a favore di altri modelli. Ma che rimane un posto da vedere, da fotografare, e sul quale porsi certe domande: e se qualcuno – alle mie – può darmi una risposta, sarei ben lieto di saperlo.

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The Exedra of Villa Manin

Passariano di Codroipo (Italy). I have photographed several times Villa Manin, an architectural masterpiece of the eighteenth century and today location for many important exhibitions. But I have always photographed its facade, both by day and by night, behind the big gate that closes the entrance. But some days ago, aided by a fantastic autumn sunset, I thought to turn the back to the main part of the building and to photograph the impressive exedra: a sequence of arcs and columns that seems hugging all those admiring it.

Passariano di Codroipo (Udine). Ho fotografato diverse volte la bellissima Villa Manin, gioiello di architettura del ‘700 e oggi sede di importanti mostre. Ma ne ho sempre fotografato la facciata, sia di giorno che di notte, dietro l’enorme cancello che ne delimita l’ingresso. Ma alcuni giorni fa, complice anche un meraviglioso tramonto autunnale, ho pensato di dare le spalle al corpo principale della villa e di fotografarne l’imponente esedra: una sequenza di archi e colonne che sembra abbracciare tutti quelli che la ammirano.

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