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Landscapes

Postcards From Istanbul: The Blue Mosque at Night

Istanbul (Turkey). Istanbul (and Turkey in general) are living very tough times in these days; and life seems not being the same as usual. Newspapers and blogs are full of articles, opinions, analysis, stories and – I guess – even some legend about the recent (failed) military coup. However, this place is not intended to talk about things that are not photography and emotions.

For this reason, in the past days I realized that what I can and I want to do is remembering the happiness, the beauty and the carefreeness of Istanbul – as I love(d) to photograph it so many times! It’s a task, at least I live it as such; and to accomplish it, I need to start from images like this one posted here. Why? Well, the reason is quite simple: I’m spending most of my time following the situation in Turkey since last Friday (also for reasons related to my work) and I feel I’m really bombed by photos of Istanbul so terribly different from the “typical images” I’m used to see. What I want to say is that usually, writing “Istanbul” on search engines, the typical image that comes out is something like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Bosphorus or the markets; but in these days Istanbul is associated to tanks, protests and masses – even with some photos taken from others stages (Egypt, for example) and reused to create confusion!

So, sorry for being probably stereotyped and for recurring to a cliché, but I can’t resist anymore. Istanbul (and Turkey too) is not the mess we are watching in these days, and I want – googling “Istanbul” – to see again its postcards of landscapes in the top ranking. I think that only in this way it will be possible to re-establish the right order of things; and only in this way Istanbul and Turkey will return to be the same amazing destination they have been since ever.

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La Ville-Lumière (La Defense)

Paris (France). Paris is often referred as “La Ville Lumière” (the “City of Light”) for its key role during the Age of Enlightenment. But to me Paris is also the city of sunsets: a different way to interpretate the word “Lumière”…

I love – when I’m in Paris and I have time – to climb up to the terrace at the Arc de Triomphe, watching the skyline of La Dèfense from there. When I can even choose the time of my visit, I prefer of course the sunset (I love the Parisian summer sunsets, when the sun goes down very late) and I remain hypnotised and mesmerised by the landscape. Sometimes the sky gets coloured with a lovely warm orange tone, which creates a very nice contrast with the tall buildings at the end of the Avenue de la Grande Armée and Avenue Charles de Gaulle. Despite the long distance (more or less 4 or 5 kilometres in line) the majesty of the buildings make this complex look like it is much closer to the downtown.

And turning back of 180 degrees, there’s the rest of Paris with its low houses and regular roofs: another nice contrast that makes the terrace of the Arc de Triomphe a “must-dos” in Paris.

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Landscape of Milan At Take Off From Linate Airport

Milan (Italy). This activity of photographing Milan at take off from Linate city airport – I must say – is going to entertain me a lot. Indeed, Linate is in my opinion one of the airports that offers the most spectacular take-offs, since after having left the runaway, the planes (at least those directed to North) usually turn toward the Alps flying over the city and therefore offering a very interesting view. In this regard, my suggestion is booking a window seat at the left of the plane (letter “A”) since the city’s landscape is mostly at that side.

Some mornings ago, while I was flying to Paris Orly (ORY) from Linate (LIN), the air was so clean that the view was reaching the Alps and I could even see their peaks with still a bit of snow. Since at take-off there was already enough light (AZ 350 flight at 8:55 AM) I decided to develop the photo in black and white. For the occasion, I used a 50 mm Summilux lens, also because the composition – with a thick window in between, “not very ASPH” – in these situations is not always very easy.

By the way, if Linate is an amazing airport for taking off, I think is worth mentioning Venice Marco Polo (VCE) as probably the most beautiful airport for landing! In this case, the best seats are the window ones at the right side (letter “F” for short and medium-haul flights).


Milano. Questa cosa di fotografare Milano mentre sto decollando dall’aeroporto cittadino di Linate devo ammettere che sta iniziando a divertirmi parecchio. Del resto, questo è a mio avviso uno degli aeroporti che offre i decolli più spettacolari, dal momento che dopo aver staccato dalla pista, gli aerei (almeno quelli verso nord) sono soliti virare verso le Alpi e passare sopra la città offrendo uno spettacolo molto interessante. A tal proposito, il mio consiglio è quello di prendere un posto finestrino a sinistra (“A”) dal momento che la città si sviluppa in buona parte da quel lato.

L’altra mattina, mentre andavo a Parigi, la visuale arrivava fino alle Alpi, tanto da poterne vedere le cime con ancora un po’ di neve. Dal momento che al decollo c’era già abbastanza luce (volo AZ350 alle 8:55 del mattino) ho deciso di convertire la foto in bianco e nero. Per l’occasione ho utilizzato un obbiettivo 50 mm Summilux, anche perchè la composizione – con un finestrino di mezzo – in questi casi non è sempre facilissima.

Per inciso, se Linate è un bellissimo aeroporto da cui decollare, credo valga la pena ricordare che Venezia Marco Polo (VCE) è forse il più bell’aeroporto in cui atterrare! In questo caso il posto migliore è il finestrino lato destro (lettera “F” per gli aerei a corto e medio raggio).

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Bagnone in Lunigiana

Bagnone (Italy). Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I’m always pretty skeptic when I read posts or articles titled with a ranking, such as “the 10 best places to go…” or “the top 5 destinations for…“. I know these titles are useful just for SEO rankings. However, an Italian on-line travel magazine has recently published a post with (translated to English) the “list of small towns that that seem to come from a fairy-tale“.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the lovely Bagnone (in Lunigiana, the northern part of Tuscany) mentioned in this list together with Bibury in England, Hallstat in Austria, Rothenburg in Germany and Gasadalur in Denmark. Of course, these kind of lists cannot be complete and thorough enough; furthermore, the decision to include or to exclude a location is normally left to the opinion of the writer (there isn’t an absolute criteria to compile these rankings). For this reason, I perfectly know that it’s a nonsense talking about Bagnone (and the others) only and simply referring to this list.

However, reading the article made me remember that I had somewhere in my archive a photograph of Bagnone, and I took the opportunity to write this post and to publish this photo because – as I always say – Italy is like a necklace. There are big gems such as its main cities (Florence, Venice, Rome etc.); but there are equally important “small stones” represented by towns like Bagnone, rich of history, culture and traditions.

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Monaco and Italy Pavilions at Expo Milano 2015

Milan (Italy). I finally had the opportunity of visiting Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition hosted in Milan from May 1 to October 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as expected, the queues were too long and it was impossible to visit more than five or six pavilions in a day. The waiting time to see Brasil, Japan or Italy was more than three hours, and I found it very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to take some photos: I brought my Leica with me and it was a nice exercise. Some pavilions (Russia and Germany, for example) have a terrace which offers a decent view over the exposition area.

Here are some samples: all my photos of Expo are tagged with “Expo Milan 2015” and can be seen clicking here.

This image has been taken from the terrace at the Russia Pavilion and shows a landscape with Monaco Pavilion, Italy Pavilion and – on the right – the “Albero della Vita” (Tree of Life).

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Gulf of Naples (See Naples and Die)

Naples (Italy). The last weekend I was in Naples for a very special (personal) event. I arrived on Friday, and few minutes after the check-in at the hotel, I went immediately upstairs to the terrace to see the view and enjoy the sunset.

I knew that the landscape was “nice”, but I was not expecting such an amazing view! I spent there a lot of time, shooting photographs (of course!) and contemplating the Gulf of Naples, with the Vesuvio volcano and the Castel Nuovo, also known as Maschio Angioino.

During the shooting, with this landscape in front of my eyes, I was thinking about the famous quote “vedi Napoli e poi muori”, which can be translated as “see Naples and (then you can) die”. The meaning is simple: after visiting such a wonderful city, you will never see anything of more beautiful in your whole life.

This is what the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote in his book “Italian Journey” [1786 – 1788] during his visit to Naples:

I won’t say another word about the beauties of the city and its situation, which have been described and praised often. As they say here, “Vedi Napoli e poi muori! — See Naples and die!” One can’t blame the Neapolitan for never wanting to leave his city, nor its poets singing its praises in lofty hyperboles: it would be wonderful even if a few more Vesuvius were to rise in the neighborhood.

To be honest, me too: I did not want to leave Naples, its beautiful landscapes and its people. And on the plane, flying above the city on my way back home, I promised to myself that I will come back soon (also because I feel I’m too young to die!)

 

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