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El Pibe de Oro (Maradona’s Murales). Quartieri Spagnoli, Napoli

Naples (Italy). I believe that few cities have with a specific person the same relationship that Naples has with Diego Armando Maradona, also known with the name “El Pibe de Oro”. Walking up and down around the so called “Quartieri Spagnoli” and talking with people sitting along the streets, it’s easy to understand how here in Naples, soccer is not only a sport or a passion, but rather it’s an instrument for a sort of “social redemption”.

In this sense, Naples-the-city perfectly corresponds with the Naples-soccer-team, and it’s especially for this reason that the memory for a player becomes the memory of an entire collectivity. A memory still well alive today, that keeps itself strong and proud in the course of the time, also thanks to expression of fondness and devotion such as this one photographed here: an impressive murales, realised in 1990, which covers the entire facade of a six-storeys building in Via Emanuele de Deo, and that has been recently renovated to bring it back to its original beauty.

It’s something worth watching at length, to be somehow contemplated, possibly contextualising it with the place where it is and with the people living there. The result is a truly unique cross section, in some ways touching, and for sure representative of a city – Naples – which has made of its passion for Diego Armando Maradona one of the hallmarks of its DNA.


Napoli. Credo che poche città abbiano con una determinata persona lo stesso rapporto che ha Napoli con Diego Armando Maradona, conosciuto anche come “El Pibe de Oro”. Camminando per i Quartieri Spagnoli e parlando con le persone sedute per strada, si capisce subito come a Napoli il calcio non sia solo uno sport o una passione, ma piuttosto sia uno strumento di riscatto sociale.

In questo senso, la Napoli città coincide perfettamente con la Napoli del calcio, ed è soprattutto per questo motivo che la memoria per un giocatore diventa memoria di un’intera collettività. Una memoria ancora oggi ben viva, che si mantiene forte ed orgogliosa nel tempo grazie anche a forme di affetto e di devozione come questa fotografata qui: un murales imponente, realizzato nel 1990, che si estende tutto lungo la parete di sei piani di una casa in Via Emanuele de Deo e che è stato recentemente restaurato per farlo tornare al suo splendore originale.

E’ un qualcosa da guardare a lungo, quasi da contemplare, possibilmente contestualizzandolo con il luogo in cui si trova e con le persone che quel luogo lo vivono. Ne viene fuori uno spaccato davvero unico, per certi versi emozionante, e sicuramente rappresentativo di una città – Napoli – che ha fatto della passione per Diego Armando Maradona uno dei tratti distintivi del suo DNA.

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Near Eastern Antiquities: Mesopotamian Art at the Louvre Museum

Paris (France). One more time, I’m finding my source of inspiration in a quote I have read in a book. The title of this book is “The Museum of Innocence”, and the author is the Turkish writer Orhan Pamul: he is very popular, not only in Turkey (perhaps I like his books because they make me think about Istanbul and Turkey).

Orhan Pamuk’s sentence simply says:

“Real museums are places where Time is transformed into Space.”

Now, think about these words for a while. And then, try to remember the last time you have visited a museum.

 

… take your time, if you need …

 

Let me describe the last time I visited a museum: it was some days ago. Well, I should more properly say “some nights” ago, since it was a night visit at Louvre Museum. I was in Paris for business (as usual) and I discovered how much relaxing it can be, dedicating a couple of hours to visit a museum. In this situation, considering how big is the Louvre, it was just a fraction of it, and I opted for the rooms with Mesopotamian Art and Near Eastern Antiquities. With Pamuk’s words in mind, I walked Theron the huge rooms with antiquities from the near east, the ancient Mesopotamia, corresponding today more or less to the south east of Turkey and the whole Iraq. Two regions, especially the latter, a bit problematic (just to use an “euphemism”).

“Time transformed into space” … Walkink between these two fantastic sculptures of “Lamassus”, Assyrian protective deities with human head, birds wings and bulls’ bodies, I felt myself catapulted back some thousands of years ago. It wasn’t the XXI century anymore, as well as I wasn’t anymore at the Louvre museum, in the heart of Paris. I remember the feeling of time becoming irrelevant, since I felt such as I was really “there”, being part of that room, arriving in Dur-Sharrukin or Nineveh, and finding these magnificent sculptures in front of my eyes. And yes, time had been transformed into space.

However, once the situation was “re-contextualized”, here I was back to reality. And reality can be very drammatic sometimes… Unfortunately, the former Dur-Sharrukin is today’s Khorsabad, 15 kilometers northeast of Mosul. That region today is taken in hostage by an absurd bunch of idiot criminals, that consider art as a threat and have – among their absurd missions – the objective of cancelling the past. Why? Let me consider once again Pamuk’s word: if the intention of the so called Daesh (or Isil, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or whatever) is to destroy antiquities and cancelling every form of art on their land, could it be because they want avoiding for the others the experience related to the transformation of time into space?

Definitely, yes. Because living the dimension of time without the one of space, and even more avoiding the transformation of time into space, means being separated (“decontextualized”) from our roots, forgetting hour heritages , symbolically “cancelling the world around ourselves”. In few words, it means living being basically disconnected from everything, and therefore being more vulnerable to the attacks – not only physical, but also “spiritual”, religious – of people who want exclusively to exercise their pressures on others’ minds. Isn’t it terrible?

To conclude, now it becomes clear why the sentence of Orhan Pamuk is extremely important and very, very powerful. I believe It’s a strong antidote against those terrorists that are threatening not only our civilization, but also our heritage: indeed, as long as there is a place on earth where time can still be transformed into space, in that place there will always be hope for understanding who we are, where we come from and – most important – who we do not want to be.

Unfortunately, on 8 March 2015 the ISIL – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, started the demolition of Dur-Sharrukin, according to Kurdish officials: the Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Ministry launched the related investigation on the same day.

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Friulan Sakura

Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy). April is the “sakura” season… Sakura is the Japanese word for “cherry blossom” and is a popular attraction for Japan. Ok, here I’m not in Japan, I’m in Friuli Venezia Giulia: it’s one of the most beautiful region of Italy, and it’s characterised by typical poplar trees (here in the background). For this reason, when I captured this image, I thought that its name could be “Friulan Sakura”.

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Hiking On A Foggy Day – Ortisei, Val Gardena

Ortisei (Val Gardena / Italy). I remember this hike through the woods of South Tirol as one of my most beautiful one of the last summer holidays: it was along a precipitous track – more or less between Santa Cristina and Selva Gardena – with very low and thick clouds, and with the trees still wet for the rain fallen shortly before. Or maybe I should say “one of the most surprising hike”! Indeed, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have had nor the possibility, nor the intention of taking the camera out of the bag and shooting some photos; but when during a break I noticed this glimpse, with the contrast between the vivid green of the inclined grass, and the grey of the straight trees through the fog, I thought that I had sinned for having been approximate.

St. Bernard – the Saint after whom I’m named – once said:

 You will find more in woods than in books. Trees and rocks will teach you what you can’t learn from masters.

I love thinking about this quote watching this photograph.


Ortisei (Val Gardena). Ricordo questa passeggiata tra i boschi della Sud Tirolo – lungo un erto sentiero più o meno tra Santa Cristina e Selva Gardena – con le nuvole basse e gli alberi ancora bagnati dalla pioggia appena caduta, come una delle più belle delle scorse vacanze estive. O forse dovrei dire “una delle più sorprendenti”: temevo infatti che non avrei avuto nè modo nè voglia di fermarmi, tirare fuori la macchina fotografica dallo zaino e di scattare; ma quando ho visto questo scorcio, con il contrasto tra il verde vivo del prato inclinato e il grigio degli alberi che si ergono dritti nella nebbia,ho pensato che avevo peccato di approssimazione.

San Bernardo – il santo di cui porto il nome – ha detto una volta

Troverai di più nei boschi che nei libri. Gli alberi e le pietre ti insegneranno ciò che non si può imparare da maestri.

Mi piace molto pensare a questa frase mentre riguardo questa foto.

 

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The Lavender of Piazza Cadorna

Milan (Italy). I took this photo today, during lunch time. I was inspired by a woman that I crossed on my way back to the office. She was most probably a tourist, and I noticed her taking a lavender’s flower and smelling it. From her face, I could clearly get her enjoyment. If you know Milan – and specifically Piazza Cadorna, a very crowded hub for commuters, with lot of traffic – you can probably get the sense of contrast given by this scene, and more specifically generated by the way that woman was enjoying the situation, and the general context in which she was doing it.

Therefore, I thought it was a nice idea trying to extrapolate myself from that place, and recreate a sense of enjoyment through my camera. The key element of course was the lavender’s flowers, which became the main subject of my composition. Behind them, a bit blurred, three symbols of Piazza Cadorna: the TreNord train station, the ATM tram (I had to wait for some minutes) and the “needle and thread” (Ago & Filo), a famous monument in the middle of the square designed by by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

This is the final result: I don’t know if it gives the sense of enjoyment that I was trying to recreate, but for sure it was a nice challenge that made my lunch break definitely more pleasant and “creative”!

I want to add a very special thanks to my friend (and colleague) Irene Salerno for her kind support in taking this photo: she has been the one that informed me when the tram was arriving, and without her help I would have inesorably missed it! 

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Sunday Afternoon at Caffè Marchesi

Milan (Italy). This is a luxury place: for its products, for its position and – it must be told – for its prices. But I think it is worth taking a break at the cafè Pasticceria Marchesi, recently opened in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II by the fashion brand Prada – which has bought the brand of this historical pastry shop. Especially in winter, when it’s cold and a refreshing pause doesn’t hurt.

The story of this place began in 1824, when the Marchesi family opened a pastry shop inside an elegant eighteenth century building in Corso Magenta in Milan, where it continued its activity till the beginning of 900. Thereafter, Mr. Angelo Marchesi expanded his range of products creating an authentic cafe, with home made pastries, cocktails and the typical Milanese aperitif.

Recently, as anticipated here above, the fashion house Prada has bought the brand “Pasticceria Marchesi” and has opened two new locations (in addition to the historical one in Corso Magenta). One in Via Montenapoleone – indisputable the most fashion street in Milan; the other one in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, from whose windows I took other photo.

Recently, I learned that Prada is going to open in Milan downtown one of its Foundation subsidiary, which will be exclusively focused on photography. If true, it’s really a great news!


Milano. E’ un posto di lusso: nei prodotti, nella posizione, e – va detto – nei prezzi. Ma penso che una sosta al caffè Pasticceria Marchesi in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, da poco aperto dalla griffe di moda Prada che ha rilevato il marchio di questo storico negozio, valga la pena – specialmente d’inverno, quando fa freddo e una pausa ristoratrice non guasta.

La storia di questo caffè inizia nel 1824, quando all’interno di un elegante edificio settecentesco in Corso Magenta a Milano viene aperta una pasticceria che continuerà la sua attività di produzione dolciaria fino ai primi anni del Novecento. Successivamente, Angelo Marchesi amplia la sua gamma di prodotti e dà vita a un vero e proprio caffè che oltre a offire dolci di produzione propria, prepara cocktail per l’aperitivo milanese.

Da poco, come detto sopra, la casa di moda Prada ha comprato il marchio “Pasticceria Marchesi” e ha aperto due nuovi caffè in aggiunta alla location storica di Corso Magenta: uno in Via Montenapoleone – indiscussa strada della moda milanese; un altro in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, dalle cui finestre ho scattato quest’altra foto.

Recentemente ho letto che Prada aprirà in centro a Milano una succursale della sua Fondazione, dedicata esclusivamente alla fotografia. Se confermato, è proprio una bella notizia!

 

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Oh No, Don’t Look At Me In That Way (at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris)

Paris (France). Just playing with a Leica Summicron-M 1:2/50 lens at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, inside the Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (Les galeries d’anatomie comparée et de paléontologie).

This is one of my favorite places in Paris: every time I walk along its corridors, I’m so fascinated by the environment, by the architecture (designed with large windows to let natural light illuminate the interior), and of course by the hundreds of animals – including parts of them, such as bones and organs – exposed in the same original way, which dated back to 1898 as part of l’ Expositions universelles de Paris of 1900.

Henri Cartier-Bresson used to spend a lot of his time here, especially when he retired. Probably, also for this reason I find this place so incredibly inspiring…


Parigi. Baloccamenti con un obbiettivo Leica Summicron-M 1:2/50 al Museo Nazionale di Storia Naturale, all’interno della Galleria di Paleontologia e di Anatomia Comparata (Les galeries d’anatomie comparée et de paléontologie).

Questo è uno dei miei posti preferiti a Parigi. ogni volta che cammino lungo i suoi corridoi, sono così affascinato dall’ambiente, dall’architettura (progettata con grandi finestre per far entrare dentro la luce naturale) e ovviamente dalle centinaia di animali – incluse parti di essi come ossa e organi – esposte nella loro posizione originale risalente al 1898 come parte dell’Esposizione Universale di Parigi del 1900.

Henri Cartier-Bresson era solito passare molto tempo qui, specialmente quando si ritirò dal lavoro. Probabilmente, anche per questo motivo trovo questo posto così incredibilmente stimolante…

 

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Selfie With The Chef (Through the Keyhole) At Contraste Restaurant Milano

Milan (Italy). How can the Contraste restaurant recently (September 2015) opened in Milano be defined? It’s not just a restaurant: people don’t go there simply for “eating something”.

I started this post writing my feelings about this place: not only the food, but also the atmosphere and, in general, my personal experience. Then, I deleted everything I had written! Why?

Very simply, because I think that

food is – in this respect – incredibly similar to photography. It’s such a personal and intimate experience, that it’s illogical taking for granted the opinion of the others.

What I can do, is recommending this place – not necessarily because it’s good (perhaps someone could find it “normal”, or even “outrageous”) – but because for sure it offers an absolutely unique experience.

Around each dish, there’s an accurate and meticulous research on ingredients, as well as on composition and on balancing of flavors. The customer becomes spectator of something going beyond the simple “tasting”, other senses are involved: sighting, smelling and touching of course, but also hearing, when you listen to the story of what you are going to heat (or have just eaten).

At the restaurant entrance (although it looks like an apartment, with few tables in what is a dining room with a living room) there’s this nice “welcome”: a face comes out from a dark wall, and with the finger at the nose looks saying “silence! The Chef is creating”. And the chef is just there, you can see him at work through the keyhole in the wall…

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