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Leica Q

Fuorisalone 2016 (Milan Design Week) at Università La Statale di Milano

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!

A visit at the Università Statale di Milano is another must of each Fuorisalone: not only because in the last years this place has hosted very interesting exhibitions and installations, but also because the building itself – also known as “Ca’ Granda”, designed by the Florentine architecture Filarete and built in the 15th Century – is very beautiful and is worth a walk around.

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Playing at Arzigogolo

Milan (Italy). There’s a moment – at the end of the working day – when I love to switch off my mind and relax in my photography world. Today, the input came from my adorable cousin – she’s the owner and the manager of a lovely shop in Milan, and she designs very nice, original and successful things: you can visit her website here, but I recommend you to pay a visit to the “real” shop if you are in Milan, and of course to spend time with her benefiting from her contagious enthusiasm.

Today it’s her birthday! We just chatted a bit and I remembered that there was this photograph – taken some days ago, when I met her the last time – that was sleepy archived on the server, waiting to be used for one post. So, I thought there was not any better moment than this to use this photo wishing to my beloved cousin the great success that she deserves!

Happy birthday Isabella!

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What’s Currently in My Bag?

Milan (Italy). Sometimes I receive message from people that are curious to know what is in my bag. They are confused – and I can understand them – because I frequently post photos taken months, if not years, before. And this contributes to their curiosity.

I’m just back from summer holidays, which is the period of the year when I stress use my cameras and lenses most. So, it is also an opportunity to test them and develop my opinion about what I have in my hands.

This blog – let me just remind it one more time – has not any purpose to test, promote or review photographic gears. There are excellent (and definitely much more popular) blogs that do it excellently. This is a blog to show and share my photos, but I understand that sometimes it can be interesting knowing what camera or lens has been used to capture a determined image.

This summer I decided to travel a bit lighter than I did in the past. While in January – during a trip around Vietnam – I brought one Nikon D810 and one Nikon Df, with only prime lenses (24, 35, 58, 105), this August I brought only the Nikon Df with one Zeiss 18, one Voigtlander 40, an old glorious Nikon 55, a 105 and a 180 together with a Leica Q. Basically, i was walking with the Leica in my hand, taking the Df out of my bag for some specific situations…

Will I remain with this configuration? Who knows… I must admit that I’m quite curious to see what Leica is doing and preparing. Some rumors talk about a new system, and I’m quite excited about this idea. At the same time, I think that the Nikon Df is still the only DSLR that can stay in my bag, and I will not replace it for another camera with the same technology.

Let’s see…

Ah, this photo has been taken with an iPhone 🙂

 

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Pamukkale, the Ancient City of Hierapolis

Pamukkale (Turkey). I found some minutes to take this photo during a hectic business trip, in turn happened in a hectic period of personal issues. For this reason, perhaps it’s not my most accurate shots, but I like it for what it represents to me: some minutes of pure freedom, doing one of the things I love the most. Photographing!

To be honest, the Theater of Hierapolis – the ancient city adjacent to Pamukkale, in the Denizli province – has been in my “to do” list for a long time, but for many reasons I could not visit it before. That’s why, despite the tight schedule of a business trip in the area, I tried not to miss this opportunity. I climbed the hill where the theater is located almost running, and still panting I captured this image from the top of its tribunes. There was nobody around, it was truly magic.

Then I walked down to see the famous hot spring pools, but I think you won’t see any photo of them – not exactly what you can see on flyers and other promotional materials.


Pamukkale (Turchia). Ho trovato il tempo di scattare questa foto durante un intenso viaggio di lavoro, a sua volta capitato durante un intenso periodo di cose personali. Per questo motivo non è probabilmente il mio scatto più accurato, ma mi piace per quello che rappresenta: alcuni minuti di vera libertà in cui ho fatto una delle cose che amo maggiormente. Fotografare!

Ad essere sinceri, il Teatro di Ierapoli – l’antica città vicina a Pamukkale, nella provincia di Denizli – è stato nella mia lista di cose da vedere per parecchio tempo, ma per diverse ragioni non sono riuscito a visitarlo prima. Per questo, nonostante il fitto programma di un viaggio di lavoro nella zona, ho cercato di non mancare questa opportunità. Mi sono arrampicato su per la collina dove c’è il teatro praticamente correndo, e ho scattato questa foto dalle tribune del teatro quando ancora ansimavo. Non c’era nessuno attorno a me, era veramente magico.

Successivamente ho camminato giù verso le celebri piscine termali, ma non penso che vedrete alcuna loro foto, dal momento che non sono esattamente come nei volantini e nelle varie pubblicità.

 

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Monaco and Italy Pavilions 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.

This image has been taken from the terrace at the Russia Pavilion and shows a landscape with Monaco Pavilion, Italy Pavilion and – on the right – the “Albero della Vita” (Tree of Life).

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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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Backstage of the Set for the New Leica SL Test

Milan (Italy). This is a sort of “double post”, because it refers to another one – here.

Why a double post? Because today I had the privilege of trying and testing the new Leica SL camera, with its lens Leica Vario Elmarit SL 24-90 mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH, and I decided to write one post about the camera itself, and another one – this one – about the experience (this photo comes from the backstage).

The event was very well organised: not too crowded and with professional photographers explaining the functions and characteristics of the new Leica SL camera. Participants could test the camera in a professional studio with some lights and a model. At the beginning I was a bit “frightened” by the context and by the situation. Finding myself in a very specialised environment with professional photographers was something of totally new for me, and testing a camera in a fully equipped studio was an unusual experience – I’m much more comfortable on the street, in a museum, or in any case in a more informal environment. But at the end I can say that I’ve really enjoyed this experience, and it’s one of the principal takeaway of today…

As said at the beginning of this post, my feelings about this camera are here.

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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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Life Along Camondo Stairs

Istanbul (Turkey). There are so many stories around Camondo Stairs! Every time I have the possibility, I love standing in front of them and watching the life around: every time there are people walking up and down between Karakoy and Galata, photographers (it’s a very popular spot, I guess thanks to Henry Cartier Bresson) trying to capture “the perfect moment”, selfiers (it’s a neologism!) playing with their cameraphones, architecture lovers finding their inspiration and simple curious being attracted by their unusual shape.

Days ago, after an abundant snowfall on Istanbul, I came to this place to shoot some photos. I was not expecting so many people, but at the end I was not frustrated by their presence. Camondo Stairs are probably much more beautiful with people using them, making them alive many years after their construction.

Karakoy is a lovely area: if you know Istanbul I guess you understand what I’m writing about. But if you are a newcomer or a tourist and you landed on this page via google, do not forget to include this district in your tour and do not be scared of getting lost here.

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Fuorisalone 2016 (Milan Design Week) – One of the 50 Manga Chairs by Oky Sando at San Simpliciano

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!

The photograph posted here shows the wonderful exhibition of “50 Manga Chairs” by the Japanese – Canadian designer Oky Sato, included in 2006 (when he was only 29 years old) in “The 100 Most Respected Japanese” ranking prepared by Newsweek magazine, winner of innumerable awards and with a long list of collections exposed at the most prestigious museums all around the world (from the MoMA of New York to the Victoria and Albert Museum of London; from the Centre Pompidou of Paris to the Triennale Design Museum of Milan). I loved the concept of this exhibition, which – by the way – is hosted in what I think is one of the most beautiful and prestigious locations of the entire “Fuorisalone 2016”, the cloister at San Simpliciano church, in the heart of Brera district (and for those visiting it, do not miss a walk in this wonderful and old church).

The exhibition includes 50 chairs, each one based on typical Manga comics’ abstract lines and shapes: the idea is perfectly displayed in a video at the end of the exhibition, and I think visitors should start from it to better understand the concept of Oky Sato’s work. Each chair is made of stainless steel, and all of them have the same basic frame (legs and seatback): what it changes and makes each piece something of unique is the “decoration”, representative of an emulation of the movement – as it is described in a manga comic. If the observer remains concentrated on a single chair per time analyzing its decoration, at the end she will perceive – with the chair itself – the emotion given by the represented movement. The result is a collection of 50 objects conceptually very static (such as chairs can be) but emotionally incredibly dynamic. A great contrast – the one between statics and dynamism – that only a great designer, such as Oky Sato, can represent in this masterful way.

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