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Interior

Opera Station along the Budapest Metro 1 Line

Budapest (Hungary). The Budapest Metro 1 line is one of the things to see in town: this line is known in Budapest simply as “the Underground” and it is the second oldest underground railway in the world (London is the first one, while Istanbul “Galata – Tunel” funicular contends the second place) being in operation since 1896. Several stations along the Budapest Metro 1 line are worth a visit considering their architectures and design; for this reason the UNESCO included the line in the World Heritage Sites List in 2002. The Budapest Metro 1 line runs below Andrassy Avenue and touches many Budapest’s landmarks: it can be the “underground” version of popular hop-on hop-off buses.

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The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris

Paris (France). There’s a very nice and characteristic place close to Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. We can even say that although it’s in the heart of one of the most touristic and crowded part of the city, it’s a sort of “hidden gem”. Im talking about a very old bookstore where you can go, read, stay, relax, seat and even sleep! It’s name is “Shakespeare and Company Bookstore”. For those who do not know the story, a first Shakespeare and Company Bookstore opened in Paris in 1919, but it was closed during the German occupation. However, a second one was opened in 1951 near the cathedral of Notre Dame, and it’s still  there.

There are so many stories about this place! I recommend to read about Shakespeare and Company on the web before visiting it. You will discovery that it was also the spot of several movies, for example. Today – as said – it is a bookstore (mainly of 2nd hand english books) and a place where you can stay “far from the madding crowd”.

P.S. Unfortunately, it’s forbidden taking photos inside this place. I stole this image because I could not resist… Don’t blame me: “Photographing Around Me” means literally photographing what I find interesting when I’m somewhere, even at my own risk!

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Bibilioteca Braidense (Library)

Milan (Italy). The Braidense Library is a magic destination: I have been desiring to visit it for long time, and I admit I feel guilty for not having done it before. But since in the weekends it’s open only on Saturday morning, I’m partially justified.

Anyhow, last Saturday I finally could visit and photograph it, and it has been really an amazing experience. The Braidense Library was founded in 1786 by Maria Theresa Archduchess of Austria opening to everyone the private library of Carlo Pertusati, and it is hosted in the seventeenth-century Brera building. Before, the only public library in Milan was the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, which was rich of manuscripts but not of printed books. In the years, through several donations and acquisitions, the Biblioteca Braidense arrived to have 1,500,000 volumes and still today is a place where for consultation, reading and studying (since that some in some rooms taking photos is allowed).

I think I will come back to visit this unique place soon. Libraries – and especially the Braidense one – have a very peculiar appeal: they are able to merge history with culture, technique with knowledge organization, and in a time like the current one, in which everything is at “mouse’s length” and with a string on Google it is possible to find every kind of information, thinking about how were the research and the cataloging is rather exciting. And just the fact that a place which has been arranged for the culture, can be thought not only to be functional, but also to be aesthetically beautiful, I think it’s something of extraordinary.

Probably, today’s generations – the so called Generation Z, but probably also Millennials – never opened an encyclopedia, made a bibliographic research or borrowed a book from a library. Today there’s Wikipedia, there are search engines, there are e-readers like Kindle (which I’m a big fan of, to be clear). However, I remember when I was at school and used to go to the library for my researches: at those times I was already so fascinated by all that knowledge so concentrated in such a small space, that I was at the same time enthusiast and unsuitable. Yes, this is the key! A physical perception of knowledge: internet does not give this possibility. A library does! And tomorrow, I’m sure of it, there will be tools to access to knowledge even faster and smarter than Google or Wikipedia; but there will still be also someone – like me – that on Saturday morning will decide to go and take photos at a marvelous place such as the Braidense Library


Milano. La Biblioteca Braidense è un posto magico: desideravo vederla da tempo, e riconosco la mia colpa per non averlo fatto prima. Ma dal momento che nel fine settimana è aperta solo il sabato mattina, mi ritengo parzialmente giustificato.

Ad ogni modo, sabato scorso sono finalmente riuscito a visitarla e a fotografarla, ed è stata veramente un’esperienza emozionante. La Biblioteca Braidense deve la sua apertura a Maria Teresa d’Austria la quale, nel 1786, aprì al pubblico la biblioteca privata del conte Carlo Pertusati all’interno del seicentesco palazzo di Brera, nell’omonimo quartiere nel cuore di Milano. Sino ad allora, l’unica biblioteca pubblica era la Biblioteca Ambrosiana, che però era ricca di manoscritti ma non di libri stampati. Negli anni, attraverso una serie di lasciti e di acquisizioni, la Biblioteca Braidense è arrivata ad ospitare 1,500,000 volumi e ancora oggi è un luogo di consultazione, di lettura e di studio (tanto che non tutte le sue sale sono fotografabili).

Credo che ci tornerò presto e spesso in questo posto unico. Le biblioteche – e la Braidense in particolare – hanno un fascino tutto loro: sono luoghi che fondono la storia e la cultura, la tecnica e l’organizzazione del sapere. In un’epoca come quella attuale, in cui tutto è a portata di mouse e basta una stringa di Google per trovare ogni sorta di informazione possibile, pensare a come era una volta la ricerca e la catalogazione delle informazioni è emozionante. E il solo fatto che un luogo predisposto alla cultura possa essere concepito non solo per essere funzionale, ma anche per essere esteticamente bello, secondo me è un qualcosa di straordinario.

Forse le generazioni di oggi – in primis la cosiddetta Generazione Z, ma probabilmente gli stessi Millennials – non hanno mai sfogliato un’enciclopedia, fatto una ricerca bibliografica o preso un libro in prestito. Oggi c’è Wikipedia, ci sono i motori di ricerca, ci sono gli e-readers come Kindle (di cui io stesso – intendiamoci – sono un grande sostenitore). Eppure ricordo quando ero al liceo e facevo le mie ricerche andando in biblioteca: già all’epoca ero così affascinato da tutto quel sapere concentrato in un unico posto, che mi sentivo al tempo stesso entusiasta e inadeguato. Ecco, forse è questa la chiave di tutto: la concentrazione del sapere e la sua percezione “fisica e sensoriale”: internet non trasmette questa percezione, inuttile illudersi. Una biblioteca si. E un domani, ne sono certo, ci saranno strumenti di accesso al sapere ancora più completi e rapidi di Google o Wikipedia; ma ci sarà anche sempre qualcuno che – come me – il sabato mattina deciderà di andare a fotografare un posto meraviglioso come la Biblioteca Braidense.

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The Supremacy of Man Over Other Creatures (at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris)

Paris (France). As in my previous post, this is the result of some hours spent playing with a Leica Summicron-M 1:2/50 lens at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, inside the Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (Les galeries d’anatomie comparée et de paléontologie).


Parigi. Come nel mio post precedente, questo è il risultato di alcune ore passate giocando con un obbiettivo Leica Summicron-M 1:2/50 al Museo Nazionale di Storia Naturale, all’interno della Galleria di Paleontologia e di Anatomia Comparata (Les galeries d’anatomie comparée et de paléontologie).

 

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The Chapel of Bones in Evora, Portugal

Evora (Portugal). It’s Halloween, again! Did you notice it? I guess so… In the past weeks the number of photos shared on social networks about Halloween parties and related events have been increasing and increasing. It seems that people are thinking only about this event: there’s a general excitement, and to be honest I do not understand the reason.

Let me speak frankly: I do not like Halloween at all. Perhaps it’s because I’m not American, but for sure I don’t feel it as a traditional recurrence of my calendar. In Italy, in the past years, there has been a growing interest on Halloween, but mainly – I suppose – for consumerist reasons: supermarkets are full of Halloween-related products, candies, sweets, masks and of course the traditional pumpkins (which are much better prepared with a good risotto, than carved and illuminated with candles). For sure, when I was a baby, there wasn’t any Halloween to celebrate with my friends: nobody dressed me to look like a zombie or a skeleton, and I never walked around my neighborhood knocking at every door and asking “trick or treat?” (despite all these things, I had a happy childhood – believe me).

Anyhow: if this is the trend, let’s surf it! At least, my intention is sharing photos from my travels, therefore I decided to wait for Halloween to post this one taken during my recent trip around Portugal (perhaps I’m too commercial, but I try to be fully in line with the contemporary spirit of Halloween). I took this photo when I went to Evora, a lovely and old little city some kilometers south-east of Lisbon. One of the main touristic attractions here, is the “Chapel of Bones” (Capela dos Ossos, in Portuguese), which is connected to the Church of St. Francis. This is a very weird place, a bit shocking at the beginning; but at the end I enjoyed the visit. I didn’t know it, but there are several other “chapel of bones” around the world: one is in Rome, another one is in Milan (San Bernardino Alle Ossa); in all of them, bones are used to decorate walls also with the main scope of transmitting the message of being “transitory” (a sort of “memento mori”). In Evora’s Capela dos Ossos this is confirmed at the entrance, where the motto “We bones that here are, for yours await” welcomes the visitors. I found it pleasantly grim…

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The Central Courtyard at the Palacio da Bolsa in Porto

Porto (Portugal). Yesterday I posted a photo of a nice courtyard in Milan; here today I’m posting the same subject – but this time it is from my recent trip to Porto, the second city of Portugal and one of the most beautiful one.

This sumptuous and elegant neoclassic building is the old Palacio da Bolsa (in English, the Stock Exchange Palace). It’s not used for its original scope anymore: for example, the courtyard photographed here in the past was the negotiations room, and the ceiling is decorated with the emblem of the countries with which Portugal was having commercial relationships.

However, today the Palacio da Bolsa it is still used for the meetings of the local commercial association.and for some special events. During the day, the Palacio da Bolsa opens its doors to visitors, and it is possible to walk along its corridors, as well as to visit its rooms, following a 45 minutes guided tour. I particularly appreciated the fact that during the tour I could shoot photos, and this one is one of my favorite from that visit.

The Palacio da Bolsa is located in the Infante D. Henrique Square in the historical center of Porto, and is designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

To capture this image I used a Leica Q camera: I think its 28 mm lens is very versatile and is very suitable for architecture photography (with a touch of creativity).

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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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Near Eastern Antiquities: Mesopotamian Art at the Louvre Museum

Paris (France). One more time, I’m finding my source of inspiration in a quote I have read in a book. The title of this book is “The Museum of Innocence”, and the author is the Turkish writer Orhan Pamul: he is very popular, not only in Turkey (perhaps I like his books because they make me think about Istanbul and Turkey).

Orhan Pamuk’s sentence simply says:

“Real museums are places where Time is transformed into Space.”

Now, think about these words for a while. And then, try to remember the last time you have visited a museum.

 

… take your time, if you need …

 

Let me describe the last time I visited a museum: it was some days ago. Well, I should more properly say “some nights” ago, since it was a night visit at Louvre Museum. I was in Paris for business (as usual) and I discovered how much relaxing it can be, dedicating a couple of hours to visit a museum. In this situation, considering how big is the Louvre, it was just a fraction of it, and I opted for the rooms with Mesopotamian Art and Near Eastern Antiquities. With Pamuk’s words in mind, I walked Theron the huge rooms with antiquities from the near east, the ancient Mesopotamia, corresponding today more or less to the south east of Turkey and the whole Iraq. Two regions, especially the latter, a bit problematic (just to use an “euphemism”).

“Time transformed into space” … Walkink between these two fantastic sculptures of “Lamassus”, Assyrian protective deities with human head, birds wings and bulls’ bodies, I felt myself catapulted back some thousands of years ago. It wasn’t the XXI century anymore, as well as I wasn’t anymore at the Louvre museum, in the heart of Paris. I remember the feeling of time becoming irrelevant, since I felt such as I was really “there”, being part of that room, arriving in Dur-Sharrukin or Nineveh, and finding these magnificent sculptures in front of my eyes. And yes, time had been transformed into space.

However, once the situation was “re-contextualized”, here I was back to reality. And reality can be very drammatic sometimes… Unfortunately, the former Dur-Sharrukin is today’s Khorsabad, 15 kilometers northeast of Mosul. That region today is taken in hostage by an absurd bunch of idiot criminals, that consider art as a threat and have – among their absurd missions – the objective of cancelling the past. Why? Let me consider once again Pamuk’s word: if the intention of the so called Daesh (or Isil, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or whatever) is to destroy antiquities and cancelling every form of art on their land, could it be because they want avoiding for the others the experience related to the transformation of time into space?

Definitely, yes. Because living the dimension of time without the one of space, and even more avoiding the transformation of time into space, means being separated (“decontextualized”) from our roots, forgetting hour heritages , symbolically “cancelling the world around ourselves”. In few words, it means living being basically disconnected from everything, and therefore being more vulnerable to the attacks – not only physical, but also “spiritual”, religious – of people who want exclusively to exercise their pressures on others’ minds. Isn’t it terrible?

To conclude, now it becomes clear why the sentence of Orhan Pamuk is extremely important and very, very powerful. I believe It’s a strong antidote against those terrorists that are threatening not only our civilization, but also our heritage: indeed, as long as there is a place on earth where time can still be transformed into space, in that place there will always be hope for understanding who we are, where we come from and – most important – who we do not want to be.

Unfortunately, on 8 March 2015 the ISIL – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, started the demolition of Dur-Sharrukin, according to Kurdish officials: the Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Ministry launched the related investigation on the same day.

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Smile, You Are at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

Paris (France). This is the third photo, after this one and this one. I’m not sure if there will be another one or two, but – as already said – I find the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris such an incredible source of inspiration! It’s so unique!


Parigi. Questa è la terza foto, dopo questa e questa. Non so se ce ne sarà un’altra o un altro paio, ma – come ho già detto – trovo che il Museo Nazionale di Storia Naturale di Parigi sia un’incredibile fonte di ispirazione! E’ così unico!

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