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AF-S Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

The Tree Goats (On The Way From Marrakesh to Essaouira)

Marrakesh (Morocco). “I will show you a tree of goats!” – this is what my guide told me, on our way from Marrakesh to Essaouira. “A tree of goats?” – was my question – “What’s a tree of goats?”. I thought it was another one of the typical jokes that guides normally do to their customers. But kilometer after kilometer, I was getting more and more curious… “A tree of goats? Simply ridiculous, it’s impossible!”.

Of course the photo demonstrates that yes, a “tree goats” exists, it’s real and it was not a joke – at all!

Along the road connecting Marrakesh and Essaouira (but apparently in many other places in the western part of Morocco) it is frequent to see Argan trees, on which goats love climbing and eating. Although this scene can be very funny and folklorist, someone says that goats represent a serious threat for Argan trees and for those economies based on products prepared with Argan fruits (such as oils, creams, soaps etc.), especially because tourism has increased this phenomenon. Goatherds probably raise much more money from tourists taking photos of their “funny goats” climbed on Argan trees, than from milk and cheese produced by the same goats on the ground (and it’s definitely less complicated and tiring). But I hope it will remain something limited to tourists driving from Marrakesh to Essaouira – and for the jokes of Moroccan touristic guide.

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Landscape of Marrakech

Marrakesh (Morocco). One of the things I loved most about Marrakesh: the contrast between the old buildings in the Medina, and the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque.

The firsts are decadent, without any sort of order, with parabolic antennas on the top which bring the observer to contemporary times (without them, I guess the Medina’s landscape is the same for very long times). The second one is fierce, elegant, massive: a reference point for everyone – believers or not, locals or tourists.

From one of the many terraces in the Medina, it’s possible to admire this landscape, sipping hot sweet mint tea and reading a book waiting for the wind to blow a bit. The perfect stop during the typical walk around Marrakesh: a city that requires long pauses for reflection to be lived and understood.


Marrakech (Marocco). Ona delle cose che ho amato di più di Marrakech: il contrasto tra i vecchi edifici della Medina e il minareto della Moschea Kutubiyya.

I primi sono decadenti, senza alcun tipo di ordine, e con antenne paraboliche sulla loro sommità che riportano l’osservatore al tempo attuale (senza di loro, secondo me il panorama della Medina sarebbe lo stesso da molto tempo). Il secondo è fiero, elegante, imponente: un punto di riferimento per ognuno – credente o no, turista o locale.

Da una delle tante terrazze nella Medina, è possibile ammirare questo panorama bevendo del dolcissimo tè caldo alla menta e leggendo un libro in attesa che il vento soffi un po’. Uno stop perfetto per una tipica passeggiata per Marrakech: una città che richiede lunghe soste di riflessione per essere capita e vissuta.

 

 

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29 Ekim Cumhuriyet Bayramimiz Kutlu Olsun

Istanbul (Turkey). The Turkey Republic Holiday is a very important day, probably one of the most celebrated anniversary around the Country. The tradition foresees a sumptuous pyrotechnic show in Istanbul, with fireworks skyrocketing from many places all around the First Bridge crossing the Bosphorus. The event is really unique, and many people gather on the streets to enjoy the show.

This photo was taken in 2012 from the seaside at Eminonu (Sultanahmet). At that time I chose this place because I particularly liked the symmetry of the bridge: I was a bit far from the show, but fireworks were so big and luminous that it was impossible not remaining impressed. I was surrounded by people and although I went there very early, it was very crowded. Luckily, everyone was very respectful of my needs – I guess that they noticed the big camera, the long lens and the tripod, thinking that I was shooting for some magazines or newspapers…

Under the tag 29 October I’m collecting some other photos of this special day, when people greet each others with a proud “29 Ekim Cumhuriyet Bayramimiz Kutlu Olsun!”

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A Nice Walk on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). This happens only once per year: it’s an unique event, and Istanbul lovers shouldn’t miss it. Of course I’m talking about the Vodafone Istanbul Marathon!

No, do not misunderstand me: I’m not proposing to run the 42+ km of a full marathon, neither to take the shorter 15 km run. What I’m talking about is to experience the fantastic opportunity of walking along the Bosphorus Bridge, which is normally jammed by cars and trucks, but one time per year is fully dedicated to runners, walkers and families.

Indeed, what for me is a very nice scene to be seen, is how much families and people truly love their bridge, which in this occasion is not simply an “infrastructure”, but becomes something more like a “legendary part of the city” (although it’s not so historical as monuments in Sultanahmet). During the marathon day, after runners’ start, people gather on the bridge to walk, discuss, protest, have breakfast (traditions matter!), play backgammon (tavla), sell simit with ayran and – of course – to take unique photos. In other words, the bridge – which normally connects the two sides of Istanbul, Europe and Asia – in this special day keeps its function of connecting “people” from different political parties, social extraction, cities of Turkey, football teams (yes, normally they fight like cats and dogs, but on the bridge they become friends) and so on. A sort of “occupy the bridge” day: isn’t it fantastic?

This here is one of the many photos I took last year during the 2014 Vodafone Istanbul Marathon (I created a specific tag): just click on the link to see the others; but if it happens you are in Istanbul the marathon day (this year it will be on the 15th of November) do not miss this great opportunity of experiencing something of unique.

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Storks at the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh

Marrakesh. The Dutch painter Adriaen Matham defined the seventeenth century El Badi Palace as “a wonder of the world”. It seems this place was not only majestic in terms of dimensions (there were pools and many other palaces inside it) but also incredibly sumptuous thanks to its decorations with gold, marble and mosaics. The name itself in Arabic means “The Incomparable”, just in order to show its ambitions.

However, visiting the El Badi Palace today, it’s a bit hard to imagine it as described above. There are just some courtyards remaining, so the main characteristic of this place is its perimeter walls hosting many storks. These animals are very respected by people in Marrakesh also thanks to the prayer-like prostration when at rest; Berbers themselves believed that storks are actually transformed humans, and according to the local law the offence of disturbing a stork can carry a three-month prison sentence.

Preparing this photo for my blog, I particularly remembered that when I visited the El Badi Palace, it was terribly hot, but after all Marrakesh at the end of June is not exactly a very easy place to walk around.


Marrakesh. Il secentesco Palazzo El Badi fu definito dal pittore olandese Adriaen Matham “una meraviglia del mondo”. Pare che fosse un luogo non solo imponente come dimensioni (con piscine e altri palazzi al suo interno) ma anche incredibilmente sfarzoso grazie alle sue decorazioni in oro, marmo e mosaici. Il nome stesso in Arabo significa Palazzo Incomparabile, così per dare un’idea delle sue ambizioni.

A guardarlo oggi, non si riesce a immaginarlo come descritto sopra. Rimangono giusto alcuni cortili, per cui la principale caratteristica sono i muri perimetrali che danno ospitalità a numerose cicogne. Questi animali sono tenuti in grande considerazione dalla popolazione di Marrakesh anche grazie alla posizione che assumono quando si riposano, molto simile a quella di un fedele in preghiera. Gli stessi Berberi credevano che le persone alla loro morte si trasformassero in cicogne e pare ci sia persino una legge che prevede fino a tre mesi di carcere per chi maltratta questi animali.

Mentre preparavo questa foto per il blog, mi sono ricordato che quando ho visitato il Palazzo El Badi era un caldo infernale, ma del resto Marrakesh a fine giugno non è esattamente un posto facile da girare.

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