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Leica Q

The Wooden Chapel of Madonna della Pescheria of Portogruaro

Portogruaro (Italy). It’s the end of the year, and it’s therefore time for greetings… Some days ago I went to Portogruaro to meet some friends, and I brought my Leica Q camera, just in case… Portogruaro is a very nice old town located in the north-eastern part of Italy, across the border between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, not too far from Venice. It was quite cold and very, very foggy. And of course, I could not resist the temptation of shooting some night photos around (although my hands were freezing)…

To do this, I chose one of the most characteristic observatory points of this lovely town: it’s a chapel made of wood and dedicated to the “Madonna della Pescheria” (roughly translatable into something more or less like “Holy Virgin Mary of the Fish Market”, but I admit it’s a bit funny). Here, the Lemene river moves the wheel of two old watermills, before heading to the Lagoon of Caorle where it meets the Adriatic Sea. The Chapel dates back to 1627 (as reported in a note on the chapel’s door) and every year there’s a traditional celebration around it, with people coming along the river with their boats, bringing gifts to the Holy Virgin Mary.

I love these hidden corners of Italy: they are able to surprise me every time. As I always say, Italy is like a precious necklace, where main cities (such as Florence, Venice or Rome) are the biggest diamonds, but small towns – like, for example, Portogruaro – are small shining gems and therefore are not less important than the more popular destinations…

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Fuorisalone 2016 (Milan Design Week) – Dragontrail By Asahi Glass at Superstudio Piú

Milan (Italy). In these days, Milan seems “the place to be” – and not only for architecture lovers, trendy designers and unmissable hipsters. For sure, like every year around this period, the city attracts an incredible amount of people coming here to discover the latest tendencies in the sectors of furniture, lighting, decoration and home appliances.

I cannot miss the opportunity of keeping my eye (and my camera) on this interesting world of course, and I like to share what I’m seeing here in my photoblog (isn’t it its purposes?). What’s really impressive, for those people living here all the year, is assisting to a true and deep change in the city’s spirit: let me try to better express myself. Although I consider Milan as probably the most living, enjoyable, innovative and “sparkling” city in Italy (for sure, one of the best life quality), during the so called “design week” the “routine” goes through an authentic transformation, which means pulling out a completely new soul made not only of parties, events, vernissage, opening ceremonies and installations (these things are pretty normal – let me say) but made of a sense of general “discovery”. Yes, during the Fuorisalone’s week, Milan’s people (re)discover their city made of hidden courtyards, beautiful buildings (some of them exceptionally open to public), street decorations and so on. In other words, it looks like a sort of “inspirational wave” floods the city’s districts (not only the fashionable Brera or 5 Vie, but also Lambrate, Tortona etc.) to demonstrate that the urban environment can react to the daily routine, and transform the ordinary into something of extraordinary.

Of course there are critics: why it can’t be all the year? Why the next week – once the design events will be over – Milan will return to hide its beauty? I’m not in a position to answer; but as long as I see that this creative magma is still boiling under the city’s asphalt, the enthusiasm’s eruption of the design week is very, very welcome!

And the “Dragontrail™” photographed here is one of the results of this “eruption”: I captured it at Superstudio Più (Via Tortona): a nice subject to be photographed! The idea comes from AGC Asahi Glass, with Eisuke Tachikawa (Managing Director at Nosigner) and Izumi Okayasu, lighting designer. Together, they have created an installation incredibly light (looks like a crystal cloud), flexible and expressive; another strong “contradiction” (like the 50 Manga Chairs at San Simpliciano, from Japan too): transforming something of rigid and fragile (such as glass) into something of soft and flexible, simply using 5,000 small fragments and showing how this amorphous material can be treated and used.

The glass used for Dragontrail™ is the same one used for smartphones, tablets and other touch screens. Light, robust, flexible, resistant and scratch-proof: Dragontrail™ was a sort of microscopical view of the real structure of glass, able to make visitors incredibly small and to give them the possibility to appreciate this fantastic material.

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Milan (Italy). Cenaconme (literally translated into “dinner with me”) is an yearly event in Milan: people get together to a place (the name is disclosed few hours before the event itself) with the rule of bringing with them a table, chairs, food, beverages and the total white dress code.

The event happened today in Piazza Castello, a very central square in front of Sforza Castle. I went there with the double intention of assisting to a unique event, but also to test my new Leica Q camera. This few photos have been selected to document the event…

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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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Ex Perfosfati (Stazione di Portogruaro)

Portogruaro (Italy). I have been watching this building for several years: every time I was arriving to or leaving from the small train station of Portogruaro (a town in the north east of Italy), my eyes were totally captured by this huge sample of industrial archaeology.

Surfing the web, I discovered some interesting things about this building. First of all, it dates back to 1949 (imagine: the Second World War was just finished and Italy was trying to resurrect) and it was built on a former industrial area operative since the beginning of the XX century. The shapes of the two ceiling were two huge paraboloids (37 meters wide, 28 meters high and 70 – the first building – or 90 meters long). These buildings were hosting the activities of the Perfosfati – a large Italian company specialized in producing fertilizers – and their operations ended in 1989, with the closure of the entire complex. Since then, the area was reclaimed (not completely, though) and then abandoned, as it is now.

However, – do not ask me why – I love these buildings! Behind their architecture and their shapes, there’s a long industrial history. The idea that every day hundreds of people were coming here to work, clashes dramatically with its current abandoned status. It looks like a “devastated cathedral” or a ghost town, but it contains the heritage of an industrial past and can therefore be seen as a monument to hundreds of workers that spent part of their life here.

For this reason, when some days ago I arrived here several minutes earlier than my train’s departure, and behind the building there was an amazing sunset coloring the cloudy sky of an intense red, I thought it was the perfect moment to capture this photograph. But I hope that the next photo I will take from here, will talk about the restoration (and development) of this abandoned area.

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Rhythm Is a Dancer: Street Photography in Paris

Paris (France). Street photography in Paris is – let me say – quite an easy experience. There are people, places and situations that perfectly suit with my personal idea for this exciting type of photography. And, to be even more precise, one of my favorite destinations for street photography is Le Marais.

Le Marais is an equally balanced touristic and residential district, more or less corresponding to the triangle formed by Hotel de Ville, Bastille and Place de la Republique. It is a wonderful location for a photo-walk, not only for its beautiful buildings and gardens (Place des Vosges or Musee Carnevalet, just to mention some). In fact, since it is one of the very few areas of Paris where shops are open on Sundays, the streets of Le Marais are very crowded and it is not infrequent meeting bizarre people.

Days ago I was there with my new Leica Q with the specific idea of trying it in a typical street photography session. My attention was captured by some music I could listen to not too far from where I was, something quite usual along Rue des Francs Bourgeois during the weekends. But once I arrived close to the band, I immediately noticed the lovely old woman dancing with them. She was coming from other times: her dress, her hat, and even the way she was moving was making this lovely woman to my eyes as someone coming from another era.

I don’t want to explain this photo since everyone can see its content and imagine a story about her. If you want, feel free to write it here below.

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Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Milan (Italy). I finally had the opportunity of visiting Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition hosted in Milan from May 1 to October 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as expected, the queues were too long and it was impossible to visit more than five or six pavilions in a day. The waiting time to see Brasil, Japan or Italy was more than three hours, and I found it very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to take some photos: I brought my Leica with me and it was a nice exercise. Some pavilions (Russia and Germany, for example) have a terrace which offers a decent view over the exposition area.

Here are some samples: all my photos of Expo are tagged with “Expo Milan 2015” and can be seen clicking here.

The queue for the Japan Pavilion was so long that the estimated waiting time reached the 5 hours and half. No need to say, I gave up…

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The Arab Room at the Palácio da Bolsa in Porto

Porto (Portugal). Let me be very frank and honest – this time I quote myself:

if there’s anything I’ve been loved more and more since I started my deep and intense relationship with photography, it is the feeling that I’m capturing photos more often for myself instead of for the others.

Why I’m saying this? Let me go back with my mind… In the past years, especially at the beginning when I started taking photos, the final step of my workflow was just uploading and sharing my captures on social media such as Facebook and Flickr: the purpose, for each shot, was raising the largest possible number of “likes” or “shares”. And as such, my opinions about my photos were strongly conditioned (if not even determined) by their “popularity”, something now I can’t even think about…

Year after year, increasing my self confidence with the camera(s), I implicitly began to be more “neutral” on what the others were saying about my captures. I don’t want to say that I’m more clever; but for sure, I don’t care about receiving lots confirmations on social media… As said, I take photos for myself, for my personal, intimate pleasure of doing this, without any economic reason, without any interest in selling any book or promoting any service. I’m totally free, and I love it.

For this reason, I decided to close my “fan-page” on Facebook (yes, I had a fan page) and I dedicated much more time to this blog. Furthermore, I started not uploading original photos on Facebook, but posting directly only their link. This has reduced my popularity – Facebook discourages this way to share contents, and the visibility is very limited by the social media’s algorithm – but of course I do not care at all.

Well, just to avoid any possible misunderstanding: it does not mean that I don’t like interacting with my followers of course! And as the manifesto of Photographing Around Me clearly statesif you leave your comments (including negative critics) I will be happy of caring about them!

I will probably return on these thoughts, since I’m thinking frequently about these things and I have something else to add. But it’s time to talk about the posted photo: I took it at the marvellous Palacio da Bolsa in Porto, Portugal. It’s an interior capture taken at the Arab Room, completely decorated in the exotic Moorish Revival style, fashionable in the 19th century, and used today as reception hall for personalities and heads of state visiting Porto.

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The Cathedral of Saint Basil and the Kremlin at the Red Square in Moscow

Moscow (Russia). It’s such a long time since my last post! I’m so busy in this period that I barely find the time to check my blog statistics and to answer to some messages… I’m working hardly in these weeks, and this my photoblog – although I love it – necessarily comes after my regular job (regular = the job for which I’m paid). Furthermore, the recent horrible events in Beirut, in Paris, in Mali etc. were so tragic, that during those days it was too hard for me finding the motivation to write something reasonable…

Therefore, this post “celebrates” the end of a 10-days period of silence; but it is also the post that embeds a new tag: “Moscow”! And it’s always special when I create a new tag, because it’s like putting a new flag on earth, something that excites me a lot!

Although my stay in Moscow was very short – just a weekend – I took many photos around the city. This one, the wide landscape of the Red Square by night, with the Cathedral of Saint Basil and the Kremlin, has been taken from the bridge crossing the Moskva river very few minutes after my arrival: I remember that I was so excited to start walking and photographing around Moscow, that I wasn’t feeling the cold wind at all, and even the snow – that was starting to fall – couldn’t stop me. I liked this view because, in the same frame, there are two of the most iconic landmarks of Moscow, with the “temporal power” (represented by the Kremlin) in a sort of opposition to the “spiritual power” (the Saint Basil’s Cathedral).

One technical note: I brought with me only the Leica Q camera, and to be honest I did not miss – except maybe for a couple of situations – all my other lenses. Maybe it’s the beginning of a new era? Should I start looking and exploring the world with a 28 mm focal length? Let’s see…

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Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Milan (Italy). I finally had the opportunity of visiting Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition hosted in Milan from May 1 to October 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as expected, the queues were too long and it was impossible to visit more than five or six pavilions in a day. The waiting time to see Brasil, Japan or Italy was more than three hours, and I found it very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to take some photos: I brought my Leica with me and it was a nice exercise. Some pavilions (Russia and Germany, for example) have a terrace which offers a decent view over the exposition area.

Here are some samples: all my photos of Expo are tagged with “Expo Milan 2015” and can be seen clicking here.

The image posted here shows a detail of the Japan Pavilion, all made by wooden bricks combined together and creating a wall with small apertures. Of course, people are in line waiting to enter.

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