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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Soli di Notte: Joan Miró Exhibition at Villa Manin – Italy

Passariano di Codroipo (Udine / Italy). I’m back from an interesting exhibition about Joan Miró, hosted at the prestigious Villa Manin (more or less one hour from Venice, one hour and half from Ljubljana, and 3 and half hours from Milan and Salzburg). In these situations, it’s very unlikely that I photograph some paintings, since I found this action totally useless. What can be the reason behind photographing a painting at an exhibition? If it is to save a memory of the visit, I can photograph something else, something of more personal and intriguing; if it is because in a following moment I want to analyse in detail the painting I’m photographing, I’m sure I can find much better and more detailed images on the web; if it is to show-off that “Hey, I   w a s   t h e r e ! ! !”, it’s obviously pretty stupid.

However – and here’s the reason of this post – walking at an exhibition I enjoy photographing the ambient around me and directing my lens towards some large rooms or trying to capture people’s behavior.

One of the main rooms at Joan Miró’s exhibition is the one photographed here: it reproduces – using original tools and instruments – part of the artist’s studio. Watched from the balcony (the exhibition is on two floors) I found the view of this room very interesting and worthy of being photographed: I liked the soft light, and I felt like I was really there, in his studio at Palma de Maiorca, watching his table immediately after he completed one of his paintings and left his instruments on the table.

It was just a feeling: but isn’t it great using photography to capture a feeling?

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Inside but Outside (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele from the Osservatorio, Fondazione Prada)

Milan (Italy). For those who can’t recognize it, this is the dome of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan (the one that for Christmas is decorated with blue lights). But instead of the typical capture from the ground (taken by me too) this time it has been photographed from outside, more precisely from the Osservatorio, Fondazione Prada’s new exhibition space located in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and dedicated to photography and visual languages.

To be honest, the exhibition I attended at the end of January didn’t drive me crazy. Except for some authors, I found the photographs exhibited here a bit too much “cutting edge”, but it could be my limit. However, the location is really amazing, even suggestive, thanks to the fact it offers an alternative – opposite – view to the one people are used to see.

And at the end of the visit, it’s a good idea having a break at the Caffè Marchesi to enjoy a cup of coffee and to re-familiarize with the typical view of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Milano. Per quelli che non la riconoscono, questa è la cupola della Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (quella che a Natale diventa tutta blu, per intendersi). Invece della solita ripresa dal basso (che peraltro ho fatto anche io) questa volta l’ho fotografata dall’esterno, più precisamente da Osservatorio, il nuovo spazio espositivo della Fondazione Prada in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II a Milano dedicato alla fotografia e ai linguaggi visivi.

La mostra che ho visitato a fine gennaio non mi ha fatto impazzire, devo dirlo. A parte alcuni autori, ho trovato le fotografie esposte un po’ troppo “all’avanguardia”, ma ammetto potrebbe essere un mio limite. In ogni caso, la location è veramente bella, direi quasi suggestiva, proprio grazie al fatto che offre uno sguardo alternativo – opposto – a quello solito a cui siamo abituati.

E a fine visita, vale la pena fermarsi al Caffè Marchesi per una tazza di caffè e per “riambientarsi” alla tipica vista degli spazi della Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

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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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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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The Antiquarium Room at the Munich Residence

Munich (Germany). I’m back from a short-but-nice tour between Germany (Bavaria) and Austria (Tirol). This time it was a real holiday, and one of the things that made my trip “special” was the fact that I did not have to catch any plane! This sentence can sound a bit snobbish, but you must believe me: flying every week (sometimes even more than once per week) is becoming tough and frustrating; and – worst thing – is making me associate flying not to holidays anymore, but to business.

For this reason I decided to use the car for my holiday: to do something of really different from the first moment of the trip!

There’s an interesting book written by the Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani. The title is “A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East”, and it’s a story about “slow travelling”. In 1976 – in Hong Kong – a fortune teller told to Tiziano that 17 years later (in 1993) he would have risked to die in an airplane accident. At the end of 1992, Terzani remembered the prophecy and decided to consider it for the following year, travelling without catching airplanes and helicopters – a tough resolution considering he was a journalist assigned on Far East territories. However, during 1993, Tiziano Terzani travelled around Asia using only land and sea transports (car, train and ship) and discovering the pleasure of the “slow-travelling philosophy” through Laos, Thailand, Mianmar, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Mongolia and Russia).

Although my trip did not last one year (but only few days) and I did not visit exotic places such those visited by Tiziano Terzani, it was nice discovering the sense of travelling without the limits imposed by a plane. There’s a sort of compromise in every journey: flexibility (but limited distances) versus reaching the other side of the world in few hours (but with some obvious constraints, such as flights’ schedules, security controls, liquids etc.).

I should try to not forget this experience the next time I will plan my holidays: it could even be an opportunity to discover more my country and its wonderful regions. Or – why not? – one day I could consider to travel around Asia like Tiziano Terzani did: slowly, and just using trains or ships…

For those interested in the posted photo, here are few words about it: I captured this image at the Munich Residence’s “Antiquarium Room”. The Residence (“Residenz”, in German) is a magnificent place in the heart of the old city. This hall is the oldest room in the Residence, and it is really impressive for its dimensions (66 metres length). Duke Albrecht V had it built from 1568 to 1571 for his collection of antique sculptures (hence the name “Antiquarium”) but at the end of the 16th century, Albrecht V’s successors – Duke Wilhelm V and his son Maximilian I – transformed this room into a hall for festivities and banquets. Of course, I decided to represent it looking for the perfect symmetry (no problem, it’s just my obsession).

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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 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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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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