Paris By Night

Paris (France). I have been capturing photos of Paris for years; and every time I try to find different angles to give my very personal view of probably the most photographed city in the world. But I must confess that the landscape from the Montparnasse Tower is amazing, albeit quite popular among photographers (especially amateurs).

I love to go there in summer, when days are longer and the sunset is around 11 PM: a long-exposure photo will present some traces of pinkish daylight behind the Tour Eiffel and the skyline of La Defense, contrasting in this case with dark clouds coming over the city with heavy rains.

I have read on some newspapers and magazines that photographing the Tour Eiffel is prohibited, since the most iconic monument of Paris is protected by copyright. Some others say that only its lighting is protected, or even only the glittering lighting that happens every 15 minutes. I don’t know, and I find the debate quite ridiculous to be honest. What I know is that I love this photo – even though I got frozen when I took it, because the terrace is obviously very high and the place is windy – and I’m happy that it’s now my most popular image on Flickr


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Weekday Afternoon at Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam). When I included Ha Long Bay in my itinerary around Vietnam, my expectations were quite high – maybe too much I must admit. The point is that I saw this places many times in postcards or websites, and I decided that definitely it was “the place to go”. As you probably know, the typical landscape of Ha Long Bay is made of hundreds islands – big or small – covered with green trees, which are in contrast with the dark gray of the rocks; and this was what I was expecting to see. Let me say, I was wrong.

As it happens frequently, my expectations were probably too high, or perhaps my eyes were already so full of that image – seen so many times before – that once I was finally there, in the famous Ha Long Bay, I was not so motivated in photographing it. Isn’t it weird? However, something else captured my attention, particularly two things; the first one was the life around that place: it was not a place only for tourists (as popular destinations normally are), but there were people living there, fishermen, pearl farms and so on. I found this unexpected authenticity quite impressive. The second one was the general quiet: thanks to the many islands around, the water was totally calm, without even small waves. And no wind at all: around me there was only silence and peace, I got the impression of being in a sort of lagoon, more than in a bay.

For this reason, when I saw this man fishing on his boat close to a typical rocky formation and on a very calm water, I thought it was the most representative photograph I could take of Ha Long Bay – at least, the most representative for what Ha Long Bay was for me.

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Landing At Venice Airport (VCE) Is Boring

Venice (Italy). I have been landing at Venice International Airport (VCE) for several years, and every time it is a very exciting experience! It’s unmissable: just before touching the ground, the plane approaches the landing strip flying very close to the city, offering to its passengers an unique opportunity for a bird’s-eye view of the downtown, the lagoon and the canals. Amazing!

During all these years, I have been collecting several photographs taken from the plane. Some of them – unfortunately – are unusable or look all the same. But with the remaining ones, I have created a small gallery, and I’m posting them here on my photoblog with the tag “Venice Airport (VCE)“.

Here’s my personal advice for all airplane travellers coming to Venice: reserve a window seat along the right side of the plane (far from the wing, obviously). And when the plane starts approaching the landing strip: not only you must put your seat backs in their most upright (and uncomfortable) position, close your tray table, and open the window shades; in this case, passengers are recommended to take their camera, switch it on, check its settings, compose the scene and – click! – capture the most exclusive landscape of Venice!

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Venice by Night

Venice (Italy). Since after my previous post I have been requested to indicate where is the mentioned Fondaco dei Tedeschi, I utilize this new image of Venice – this time captured by night. So, watching the Rialto Bridge, the Fondaco is the building on the left, with tall arches (at the ground floor) before the bridge and a banner on the facade.

I must say that Venice by night is – if possible – even more magic than by day: the city gets calm, the mass of tourists begins flowing away and the atmosphere changes completely. There are few illuminated canals and buildings’ facades, (this part of the Gran Canal is one of the few) and especially in winter, alleys and squares become dark and mysterious. There are some figures saying that Venice hosts 100,000 people by day and less than 5,000 people by night: some of them fill the local bars (bacaro, in Venetian) for a drink (the typical spritz) or for eating something; but those who want to experience the true magic essence of Venice, a night walk – better if in winter, with the fog – is truly an unforgettable experience.

Venezia. Poichè a seguito del mio post precedente mi è stato chiesto di indicare dove si trova il Fondaco dei Tedeschi, utilizzo questa nuova foto di Venezia – questa volta scattata di notte. Ebbene, guardando il Ponte di Rialto, il Fondaco è il palazzo a sinistra prima del ponte, con archi alti al piano terra e uno striscione sulla facciata.

Devo dire che Venezia di notte è se possibile ancora più magica: la città si calma, la massa di turisti inizia ad andarsene e l’atmosfera cambia completamente. Sono pochi i canali e i palazzi illuminati (questo tratto del Canal Grande a Rialto è uno dei pochi), e soprattutto di inverno calli, campi e campielli nella loro oscurità diventano deserti e misteriosi. Ci sono stime che dicono che a Venezia di giorno ci sono 100,000 persone, mentre di notte non arriva a 5,000: alcuni di questi affollano i vari bacari dove bere uno spritz e mangiare qualcosa; ma per chi vuole vivere la vera magia di questa città, una passeggiata notturna, meglio se d’inverno con la nebbia, è davvero un’esperienza irripetibile.

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The Natural Arches of Legzira Beach, Morocco

Sidi Ifni (Morocco). Last night, reading a news website, I sadly discovered that one of the natural arches of Legzira – a beach in Sidi Ifni, close to Agadir on the Atlantic coast of Morocco – collapsed for natural reasons. I link this place with the memories of an amazing “on-the-road” trip, thousands and thousands of kilometers around Morocco, freely deciding the itinerary day by day and discovering its incredible beauties. It was between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010.

This photograph (and the others posted with the tag “Legzira”) has been taken on January 2nd, 2010: the new year’s eve’s excitement was just over and that afternoon, with the sun offering a magic sunset going down into the Atlantic Ocean, I spent several hours contemplating this wonder and the surrounding landscape, as well as making good resolutions for the new year which had just begun. And since at the end the 2010 had been an important year of my life, I like to imagine that this place in a certain sense brought me luck.

For this reason too, the idea that one of the natural arches of Legzira does not exist anymore makes me very sad. I remember that in front of such an amazing wonder, I understood how much nature can build great masterworks! And today, sadly, I also understand that as it can build, it can destroy. In a certain sense, it’s possible to imagine that nature does not have the sensibility to preserve something of beautiful, something built or excavated in thousands and thousands of years. No, nature must go on along its own way without being satisfied for what it has been able to do: nature must proceed along its path, and if this means destroying something, it does not matter. I don’t think there’s too much to do, just getting consciousness of our impotence: and if we want to deceive ourselves that we can stop the natural development of things, the only way we can do it is just shooting a photo.

Sidi Ifni (Marocco). Ieri sera, guardando il sito di un giornale, ho letto la bruttissima notizia che uno degli archi naturali di Legzira – spiaggia sulla costa atlantica del Marocco nei pressi di Sidi Ifni, vicino ad Agadir – è collassato in maniera naturale. Lego a questo posto il ricordo di un viaggio bellissimo, tutto “on-the-road”: migliaia e migliaia di chilometri per il Marocco a scoprirne le sue incredibili bellezze a cavallo tra il 2009 e il 2010, decidendo giorno per giorno l’itinerario in totale libertà.

Questa foto (e le altre che ho postato con il tag Legzira) è stata scattata il 2 gennaio 2010: da poco si era spento l’entusiasmo del capodanno e quel pomeriggio, con il sole che scendeva nell’Oceano Atlantico regalandomi un tramonto magico, passai diverse ore in contemplazione di questa meraviglia e del panorama circostante, facendo buoni propositi per l’anno appena cominciato. E visto che il 2010 fu un anno che importante della mia vita, mi piace pensare che questo posto mi abbia in un certo senso portato fortuna.

Anche per questo l’idea che uno degli archi naturali di Legzira non ci sia più mi intristisce molto. Ricordo che di fronte a un simile spettacolo, capii quanto la natura sia capace di costruire cose grandiose! E oggi, tristemente, comprendo anche che come le costruisce, le distrugge. In un certo senso, si può pensare che la natura non abbia la sensibilità di conservare un qualcosa di bello, magari che ha impiegato migilaia di anni per essere realizzato. No, la natura deve andare avanti per la sua strada senza mai compiacersi di quello che ha saputo fare: la natura deve proseguire nel suo cammino, e se questo vuol dire distruggere, non importa. Non credo ci sia molto da fare se non diventare consapevoli della nostra impotenza: e se proprio ci illudiamo di fermare il corso della natura, l’unico modo per farlo è proprio scattandole delle fotografie.

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The Falling Tree (Somewhere out of Paris)

Somewhere out of Paris. It’s funny when, for an entire day, your office becomes the side of a small lake, positioned somewhere close to Chaumes-en-Brie, more or less 70 km south-east of Paris. Is there any better opportunity to take picture half decadent (the tree) and half optimistic (the green all around)?

Da qualche parte fuori Parigi. E’ divertente quanto per un giorno il proprio ufficio diventa la sponda di un piccolo lago, collocato da qualche parte vicino a Chaumes-en-Brie, più o meno a 70 km sud est di Parigi. Quale miglior occasione per scattare una foto tra il decadente (l’albero) e l’ottimista (il verde circostante)?

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Ponte della Cresa: Pontremoli by Night

Pontremoli (Italy). This is a self-promotional post: I hope I won’t seem narcissist, but in these days – until the 7th of August 2016 – I’m participating with three photos at an exhibition on Pontremoli and the Lunigiana region. One of these photos is this one posted here.

The photo (already posted in this blog one year ago, that time in black and white)  shows the very old bridge named “Ponte della Crësa”, which initially was built with wood in the 1300s, and it was reinforced – as it is today – during the 15th century. In the background, two landmarks of Pontremoli: the Bell Tower (popularly known as the “Campanone”) and the Cathedral’s Dome. The old town center of Pontremoli extends over a spit of land between the confluence of the Verde and Magra river, and this bridge is one of the city’s symbols. The name itself – Pontremoli – comes from the latin “Pons Tremulus“, where Pons is the latin word for bridge, whereas Tremulus is an old name for the poplar, the material used to build the bridge. According to another interpretation, “Tremulus” might stem from the fact that the bridge tended to shake. This is to say that Pontremoli has somehow built its history on bridges, and bridges themselves are the subjects of my photos selected for this exhibition.

For those who will be around Pontremoli – in the northern part of Tuscany – in these days, the exhibition will be held at the Galleria d’Arte Ex-Macelleria, Via Garibaldi 27 – 50027 Pontremoli (Massa Carrara). Opening hours: 10.30 / 13.00 and 16.30 / 19.30.


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Life Along the Railway in Hanoi

Hanoi (Vietnam). Walking and photographing around Hanoi can be incredibly surprising: for example, I was not expecting to see the national railway surrounded by houses with people living and spending their days on the binaries… I found this scene incredibly attracting and exciting, I spent several minutes suspended between incredulity and the passion for that original situation. This is one of the most representative photograph I captured that afternoon.

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