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Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH

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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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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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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Fuorisalone 2016 (Milan Design Week) – Missoni Knitown at Brera District

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!

Missoni’s stand is a “must” of each Fuorisalone: every year, the popular Italian fashion house opens the doors of its atelier in Via Solferino to host psychedelic exhibitions highlighting their fantastic fabrics. The theme for Fuorisalone 2016 was “Missoni Knitown”, an installation made with a surreal and abstracted town built with geometric solids such as cubes, cones and parallelepipeds, creating a very original skyline “dressed” with the typical design by Missoni. All around, ambient music and soft lights – which challenged the ISO of my Leica Q camera, by the way.

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Photographing Galata from Eminonu

Istanbul (Turkey). This is one of my favorite places in Istanbul, and I could stay here for many hours watching and photographing the city around me. This photo has been taken at Eminonu, just at the end of the Galata Bridge (or at the beginning, approaching it from the old city of Sultanahmet) and where – in a ray of few meters – there are so many things to see and to do!

Take a map, pin this place (here you are the exact coordinates: 41°01’05.6″N 28°58’15.7″E) and follow my virtual tour: at south-east, there’s the “Yeni Cami” (or New Mosque, definitely one of my favorite one); proceeding clockwise, there’s the “Misir Carsi” (literally, the translation is “Egyptian Market”, but it’s mostly known as “Spice Market” – although spices are not so good anymore in my opinion); just on the top of the hill, it’s possible to admire the stunning Suleymaniye Camii (Mosque of Suleymaniye) dominating large part of the city; continuing to move, at my left there’s the most popular (and commercial, though) place in town to have a typical “balik ekmek” (in English, fish burger); few meters after, there’s another jewel, the Rustem Pasha Mosque; and – finally, in front of my eyes – there’s this nice view of the Golden Horn (Haliç) and Galata, with its unmistakable tower.

And I could not find a better moment to capture this image: it was at the beginning of the year (probably the 1st or the 2nd of January 2016), it was cold, snowy and cloudy. Being at mid-afternoon of a day without the sun, there were very few colors: but some rays of light – the last ones of the day – suddenly illuminated the district of Galata, its tower, its roofs covered with snow, and made more “gentle” the contrast between the old traditional houses against the modern buildings. All around my viewfinder, seagulls were flying begging fishermen on the bridge for some fresh fish.

These are the moments that confirm – as if it were necessary – my deep love for Istanbul.

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Fuorisalone 2016 (Milan Design Week) – Palazzo Litta

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!

Some words about this photo: I took it today at lunchtime. I’m luck to work in Milan’s downtown, and this building (Palazzo Litta) is of the above mentioned locations exceptionally open for the design week. I love the mix of old architectures and innovative design: it’s a great source of inspiration for my dreams’ home!

 

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Landscape of Istanbul from the Suleymaniye Mosque

Istanbul (Turkey). I’m a bit worried: maybe I’m sick?

Ok, let me serious, since my parents and relatives could read this sentence and get scared… I’m joking of course! And I’m perfectly healthy – I have some kilos to loose though, perhaps I spend too much time blogging my photos and I do not run enough. Anyway, the point is that out of 8 posts in January (including this one), 7 (some 90%) are about Istanbul! So, the conclusion is only one: I’m sick of Istanbul, meaning that I’m totally crazy for this city and I’m loosing control in photo-blogging about its places, landscapes and situations… This is my problem, and I do not want to find a cure 🙂

Probably the two snowfalls that hit the city this January are responsible for my situation, but I found that everything – including places where I have been several times before – when covered with snow was irresistibly beautiful!

This one posted here, for example. I have seen this landscape of Istanbul from Suleymaniye Mosque an uncountable number of times: I love these small domes of the former “preparatory school” (in Turkish, mülazim) gently degrading down toward the sea; and I could stay hours watching the Galata Tower dominating the Golden Horn (Haliç) and the Karakoy peninsula. But the scene is covered by the snow, it’s completely different – not to mention the fact that all around is silence (but – I’m sorry – photography cannot represent noises yet).

The weather forecasts bulletin says it’s going to snow again: I recommend all photographers to prepare their cameras and lenses, and to include the Suleymaniye Mosque in their photo-tour around Istanbul…

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The Cloister of Porto Sé Cathedral

Porto (Portugal). The Sè Cathedral in Porto is one of the most important city’s landmark and attracts thousands of people – tourists and worshippers – every day: for this reason it is normally quite overcrowded.

However its cloister – which is accessible paying a small entrance fee – is totally another place, and when I was walking around it, I was particularly moved by its silence and tranquility. This made my visit particularly pleasant and gave me the opportunity to shoot these amazing Azulejos without anyone around.

What really impressed me and captured my attention, is the visible contrasts on the walls: the grey color of the structure contrasts magnificently with the Azulejos highlighting them and without giving the filling effect of “being too much”; but I found also particularly pleasant another contrast, given by the vertical and regular lines typical of Gothic architecture, versus the irregularity, the fantasy and the two-dimensional shape of Azulejos.

The light coming from the center of the cloister was perfectly enhancing the composition: this is one of my favorite photographs I have taken in Porto.

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Two Statues Are Talking About Milan

Milan (Italy). I already took a similar photo some months ago (this one) but the weather was not as nice as it was yesterday evening on the Duomo Terraces, one of my favorite location for shooting landscape photographs of Milan.

Watching these two statues makes me think about their possible conversation:

Left (L): “Look! The new Milan is over there!”

Right (R): “Yes, I see it… unbelievable how fast is its growth”

(L): “Until some years ago there was nothing there. Look now, isn’t it a wonderful skyline?”

(R): “Oh yes, it’s really beautiful”

(L): “From left to right, you start with the Garibaldi Towers: 25 floors and 100 meters high, they are energetically independent thanks to solar panels and a sophisticated insulating materials”

(R): “Wow! And the next one?”

(L): “The next one, at the right of Garibaldi Towers, is the Unicredit Tower complex”

(R): “Oh yes, I recognise it”

(L): “What you probably don’t know is that the towers were designed by the starchitect Cesar Pelli: he designed important buildings around the world, such as the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the One Canada Square in Canary Wharf (London) and the second tallest skyscraper in Spain, the 250 metres tall Torre de Cristal in Madrid”

(R): “I see… the next one is famous! Isn’t it the Bosco Verticale?”

(L): “Oh yes! It’s a famous building… It even won the International Highrise Award, a prestigious international competition. The two buildings have 730 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 perennials and groundcover on its facades, the equivalent of that found in a one hectare woodlot.”

(R): “Great example of architectural sustainability! Ok, I like this lesson: let’s go on!”

(L): “Sure! The next tall building is the 143 meters high Solaria Tower. It is currently the tallest residential building in Italy. I can’t imagine the view from its top…”

(R): “It must be breathtaking…”

(L): “Indeed! Proceeding to the next one, here we are to the Lombardy Building (Palazzo Lombardia), designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. For the period between its completion and the Unicredit Tower opening it was the tallest building in Italy. Furthermore, it won the 2012 Best Tall Building Europe prize from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.”

(R): “It seems that most of these skyscrapers were awarded with some prestigious prizes… People in Milan should be aware of it!”

(L): “I’m not sure they are… But let’s come to the Diamond Tower, the tallest steel building in Italy. The Diamond Tower is characterised by an irregular geometry, and the perimeter columns are inclined compared to the vertical. Its layout has been developed to maximise the amount of sunlight passing through the building and to allow a view on the city, and the Diamond Tower has been awarded with the LEED GOLD certification, one of the highest ranking recognised by the Green Building Council.”

(R): “Another award!”

(L): “Yes… you are right. Last but not least, the Pirelli Tower. Although this building still today looks very modern, it dates back to 1950s and was designed by two among the greatest architects of the Italian history: Giò Ponti and Pier Luigi Nervi. It even seems that the Pirelli Tower inspired the design of the Pan Am Building (now MetLife Building) in New York It’s not an award, but…”

(R): “Oh yes, it’s amazing!”

(L): “And, at the right of the Pirelli Tower, there is the Breda Tower, built in 1959 and recently restored.”

(R): “Great! Thank you very much for this interesting lesson! I really did not know about how amazing and rich of information a skyline can be… This landscape won’t ever be the same from now on”

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Ecuador 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.

From the terrace at the German Pavilion it is possible to see the Ecuador Pavilion, a very nice building with a colored facade.

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