Marrakesh (Morocco). June can be very hot in Marrakesh, but ending a summer day on a terrace watching the Koutoubia Mosque’s minaret and drinking a fresh cocktail can definitely make your day. And – of course – why not shooting a couple of photographs, considering the breathtaking landscape?
AF-S Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
Shanghai (China). Night landscape of Pudong, an iconic district of Shanghai, located along the east side of the Huangpu River
Istanbul (Turkey). It looks like the “present” is slowly cancelling the “past”…
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.
Istanbul (Turkey). The Camlica Hill is one of my favorite spots to spend an entire afternoon photographing around me. The place itself is quite special, there are restaurants and tea gardens, and locals love to go there. It’s also very popular for wedding photography. But the main reason to visit Camlica Hill, at least for a tourist or a landscape photographer, is the amazing view of Istanbul: during clear sky days, it’s possible to see a large part of the city along the Bosphorus, from the so called “Second Bridge” to Sultanahmet, including the skylines of Levent and Maslak.
Reaching Camlica is easy: there are many public services, but the easiest way is catching a taxi directly at the ferryboat station in Uskudar.
Milan (Italy). New sustainable architectures for the EXPO 2015 city: Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) is an innovative concept of residential towers, with trees along the facade mitigating smog, producing oxygen, moderating the apartments’ temperatures all along the building (both in the winter and summer) and attenuating noises.
Architecture lovers (and not only them!) should come to Milan and observe this wonderful example of urban sustainability: I believe that this is the way, and that sooner or later we will be able to cultivate fruits and vegetables in highly technological vertical farms. The “Bosco Verticale” skyscraper has been winning several prizes since its opening, and is now a landmark in the new skyline of Milan. Beauty, efficiency and sustainability together in the same concept!
The only downside: apartments here are very expensive!
Istanbul (Turkey). A typical contrast of Istanbul: two modern skyscrapers in the background oppose the fierce minarets of the Blue Mosque.
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.
Istanbul (Turkey). Thousands and thousands of people walk day&night along the popular Istiklal Caddesi (Street), the main pedestrian street in Istanbul, characterised by the old tram back and forth between Taksim Square and Tunel.
[UPDATE] On March 19th 2016, Istiklal Caddesi has been shocked by a terrorist attack, which has killed five people – including a suicide bomber – and wounded 36. For those who have walked at least once time along this street, loving its shops and its 24/7 life, it’s difficult to forget the incredible energy that it transmits. But now that this iconic place has been bloodily raped, I want to use this image taken some years ago to remind everyone – especially terrorists – that this is Istanbul, and their bombs will never stop this city. Never!
Syracuse (Italy). View of the Maniace castle at sunset, arriving at the Syracuse bay circumnavigating the Ortigia Island.