Landscape of Kotor, Montenegro (Just After a Rain Storm)

Kotor (Montenegro). It’s always a nice achievement when I can add a new country to my list of visited places. I went to Montenegro for the first time this summer, and of course I could not miss the possibility of visiting the old town of Kotor (Cattaro). If you google “Montenegro”, one of the first and most popular results is more or less the same photo posted here. This does not mean that Montenegro does not have anything else to offer to tourists, of course! Simply, this is one of the most iconic landmark in the Country.

I arrived to Kotor during a very heavy rainstorm: it was not the best possible welcome, let me say. However, when the rain stopped and clouds moved away, I immediately took my camera, wore good trekking shoes and went along the 4.5 km track (it’s along the upper town walls, and has stairs on its side) which starts from the town and climbs up to the top of the mountain, where – from the abandoned St. John Fortress – it is possible to enjoy the amazing landscape of the town and of the fjord.

However, in my opinion the best landscape was more or less at half of the walk, with the Our Lady of Health church, with its bell tower, dominating the view of the town and the fjord. In my case, moreover, the thick clouds were moving toward the open sea making the scenery even more intense. I decided to climb the rest of the path: it was quite tough – let me say – but it was a very enjoyable walk…

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The Altar and the Mihrab of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). This is probably the most “symbolic” and characteristic part of Hagia Sophia, which was built as an orthodox basilica, then converted into a mosque and today is a very popular museum in Istanbul.

But why this corner is so symbolic? The answer is simple but – in my opinion – extremely logic: it shows at the same time the apse (where there was the Hagia Sophia Basilica’s altar) and the mosque’s mihrab, the semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the “qibla”, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The mihrab was added when Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453, after the conquest of Istanbul with Mohammed II.

Visiting Hagia Sophia is like hopping on a time machine: there are so many testaments of the building’s history, that the visitor bears the risk that being mesmerised by the wonderful mosaics and the magnificence of the interior, will not notice them. When I accompany someone at Hagia Sophia, this is the first place where I go: here there is the essence of a place that is unique not only for its beauty, but also for its history.


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Nostra Donna Church in Pontremoli (Pano)

Pontremoli (Italy). Here I’m again with a photograph taken in Pontremoli. I’m happy that – post after post – this small town is finding its well deserved room in my blog.

Some weeks ago I was around Pontremoli with some guests, and I had the opportunity of visiting probably the most beautiful – albeit hidden and unknown – church of the entire city. Its name is Nostra Donna (the full name in Italian is “Chiesa di Nostra Donna” also known as “Oratorio della Madonna del Ponte”) and it’s a true magnificent example of the local baroque style.

To give an idea about the interior of Nostra Donna with its rich decorations, I took several photos and I composed them in a single panoramic view – with an evident unnatural distortion, sorry for that.

However, if you are planning a visit to Pontremoli or – just in case – you are around the Lunigiana region, I strongly recommend you to look for a visited tour contacting a professional guide. In case you might be interested, do not hesitate to write me and I will give you the right contact.


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Afterwork Shooting at San Maurizio

Milan (Italy). In the past days I had the opportunity to read a lot about San Maurizio (the full name is San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore). This place just went through a long period (30 years!) of restorative measures, and its opening was one of the major cultural events of the past months.

One of the things that was stimulating my curiosity is the parallel made by someone with the Sistina Chapel in Rome, and to be honest I was a bit skeptic. But today I decided to check with my eyes (and my camera, of course!). I’m lucky because this place is very close to my office (it’s in Corso Magenta) and on Thursdays it remains open till late (10:30 PM).

When I entered, I really could not believe my eyes: if the external façade is quite simple and – let me say – “poor”, the interior is really stunningly decorated. I was truly enthralled by all those images (perfectly renovated) describing scenes from the Holy Bible and dating back to almost 500 years ago (Bernardino Luini decorated this place between 1520 and 1530). But what made my visit even more special and memorable, was the second part of the hall – the so called “Hall of Nuns” – where four young musicians were playing music with three violins and a cello.

I took several photos, and I merged some of them to compose this “pano” view and to give an idea (although a very limited one) of this place. I can now join those who were saying that this is the “Sistina Chapel” of Milan: it was a great afterwork shooting!

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Castellabate, Outside the Basilica

Castellabate (Salerno, Italy). A minister (or maybe the parish priest?) photographed when he’s reading the newspaper on the parvise of the ancient Pontifical Basilica of Santa Maria de Gulia at Castellabate, a lovely town located on the uplands of the Cilento National Park (UNESCO site) in the Salerno province. This Romanesque style church, which dates back to the first half of the 12th Century, represents one of the beauties of Castellabate. The village is mostly known because it hosted the set of a pretty successful Italian movie (“Benvenuti al Sud” with Claudio Bisio and Alessandro Siani, the Italian remake of the original French movie “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis“), but I think it should be visited especially for its position and its peculiar narrow streets.

Castellabate (Salerno). Un sacerdote (forse il parroco?) fotografato mentre legge il giornale sul sagrato della antica Basilica Pontificia di Santa Maria de Gulia a Castellabate, un delizioso paese in provincia di Salerno, posizionato sulle alture del Parco del Cilento (sito patrimonio UNESCO). La chiesa risalente alla prima metà del XII secolo e in perfetto stile romanico, è una delle bellezze di Castellabate. Il paese è conosciuto per essere stato utilizzato come set di un film abbastanza di successo (“Benvenuti al Sud” con Claudio Bisio e Alessandro Siani, il remake italiano dell’originale francese “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis“), ma merita di essere visitato più che altro per la sua posizione e le sue caratteristiche stradine.

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At the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow

Moscow (Russia). Now that I created the new tag “Moscow”, I should feed it with more and more posts from my recent short-but-intense weekend there. Here there is a photo literally “captured” inside the Cathedral of the Annunciation, a wonderful Orthodox Church located inside the Kremlin and characterized by stunning but elegant paintings on the walls and on the ceiling.

To take this image I used the iPhone app for Leica Q – which works perfectly – so after connecting the camera with the phone, I was able to remotely control it, finding all the camera settings and adjustments directly in the phone’s screen. I think this is a great feature for street photographers (both authentic ones and wannabes like me) because it gives complete freedom to shot in some restricted environments, as well as to get closer to people without being noticed or without pointing the camera at their face. Considering that in these days people do not like being photographed – and some overreact – this feature and this app may save my life…

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Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milano

Milan (Italy). When you arrive at destination some minutes earlier, there’s nothing better to do than taking a camera from the pocket and shooting some photos…

Here I was going to attend an event at Santa Maria delle Grazie, one of the most beautiful churches in Milan (this is the same church, photographed from another angle and at another event – but do not think I’m a very socialite person). I arrived earlier than expected, and I decided to walk around it, just to give a look. It was very dark of course, so I was a bit discouraged by taking photos. But I could not resist, so pushing the ISO of my Ricoh GR at 6,400 I captured this image.

It’s not my best shot ever, of course (by the way, do I have one?). But still is a kind reminder for bringing this amazing camera with me every day (and night).

Milano. Quando uno arriva a destinazione alcuni minuti in anticipo, non c’è niente di meglio che tirare fuori la macchina fotografica dalla tasca e scattare alcune foto…

Qui stavo aspettando di partecipare a un evento a Santa Maria delle Grazie, una delle chiese più belle di Milano (qui c’è la stessa chiesa, fotografata da un angolo diverso e a un altro evento – ma non pensate che sia una persona molto mondana). Ero arrivato prima del previsto, e ho deciso di fare un giro intorno per dare un’occhiata. Era molto scuro ovviamente, per cui ero un po’ scoraggiato dal fare foto. Ma non potevo resistere, per cui ho spinto l’ISO della mia Ricoh GR fino a 6,400 e ho scattato questa immagine.

Non è la mia miglior foto di sempre, ovviamente (a proposito, mi domando se ne ho una). Ma è tuttavia un modo per ricordarmi di portare questa fantastica macchina fotografica con me ogni giorno (e ogni notte).


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