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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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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Toledo Metro Station in Naples

Naples (Italy). Here I’m back again with another photograph from a recent weekend in Naples. This city surprised me a lot, its beauty was far beyond my expectations and it was such a pleasure photographing around it! I will come back to Naples as soon as possible, one weekend only was really too short!

The photo posted here represents the Toledo Metro Station: I wanted to visit it – and I was lucky, it was very few minutes on foot from my hotel! – because it has been recognized by the Daily Telegraph as the most impressive underground railway station in Europe. Also the popular website “Bored Panda” has ranked it at the number one in the list of the 15 most beautiful metro stations in the world.

But beyond rankings and lists, which are quite tough to fill out, it is worth to underline that the Toledo Metro Station is not the only one deserving a visit, being part of a larger project called “Stazioni dell’Arte” (Art Stations), developed with the involvement of many artists and architects such as Gae Aulenti and Alessandro Mendini.

I personally found the concept of “Art Stations” something of very interesting, both culturally and socially: the idea that a metro station – which is normally dark, dirty and distractedly used by people to move from a point to another – can on the other side become a place of interest by itself, is not common nor banal. And it demonstrates how things can be done in a beautiful way without en excessive extra-cost.

It was the first time in my life I had bought a metro ticket just to see the station and not to catch a train, but – let me say – I cannot complain at all for this!

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Oh No, Don’t Look At Me In That Way (at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris)

Paris (France). Just 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).

This is one of my favorite places in Paris: every time I walk along its corridors, I’m so fascinated by the environment, by the architecture (designed with large windows to let natural light illuminate the interior), and of course by the hundreds of animals – including parts of them, such as bones and organs – exposed in the same original way, which dated back to 1898 as part of l’ Expositions universelles de Paris of 1900.

Henri Cartier-Bresson used to spend a lot of his time here, especially when he retired. Probably, also for this reason I find this place so incredibly inspiring…

Parigi. Baloccamenti 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).

Questo è uno dei miei posti preferiti a Parigi. ogni volta che cammino lungo i suoi corridoi, sono così affascinato dall’ambiente, dall’architettura (progettata con grandi finestre per far entrare dentro la luce naturale) e ovviamente dalle centinaia di animali – incluse parti di essi come ossa e organi – esposte nella loro posizione originale risalente al 1898 come parte dell’Esposizione Universale di Parigi del 1900.

Henri Cartier-Bresson era solito passare molto tempo qui, specialmente quando si ritirò dal lavoro. Probabilmente, anche per questo motivo trovo questo posto così incredibilmente stimolante…


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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 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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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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