Nightlife At Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan

Milan (Italy). I love my Ricoh GR! The purpose of this blog is not reviewing (and promoting) cameras, lenses or other photographic equipments: if you have been following me for time, you probably noticed that there are no advertisements or links to sellers here. However, I must say that the Ricoh GR camera is a great tool if you want to have fun walking around (I mean, without the specific intent of taking your camera bag and walking around for photographing something). Just bring it with you – as a phone, it perfectly fits in your pockets – and I’m sure that each time you will find at least a good reason to use it. Someone says that a camera-phone is more than enough, but I totally disagree: for me there’s no better than ta Ricoh GR.

Ok, back to this post: last Sunday I was walking around Milan, just to breathe some fresh air at the end of a very hot and humid day. I headed to Piazza Gae Aulenti, a modern and interesting area in town recently re-designed and hosting intriguing architectures. There’s a “futuristic” fountain, with coloured water jets surrounding the “Solar Tree”, a lamp designed by Ross Lovegrove for Artemide. I thought that a long-exposure photograph was a nice way to represent the atmosphere there, with people looking in a certain sense like ghosts, as if the hotness was making them “evaporating”. This is the final result: not my best photograph – I know this – but for sure something that a camera-phone will never let me shoot (and – most important – something I liked to do).

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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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John Armleder for La Rinascente

Milan (Italy). Since my previous post apparently created a sense of discomfort related to what typically happens around Christmas (at least here in Italy, and more specifically in Milan), I think it’s a good idea to recreate the right spirit associated to this important day.

Cities have been preparing for Christmas since the end of November, with their lights and decorations. Milan – of course – couldn’t be different from all the others (including Florence, photographed some days ago) and the popular shopping mall’s brand “La Rinascente” this year hired John Armleder to perform an exclusive art installation inside its shopping windows.

I liked the idea of dedicating shopping windows to contemporary art: I think somehow it changes the perception of “being just a consumer”, and makes people feel a bit less “no-brained” then they are (me included), when they realize they are in the middle of the maddest crowd, running up and down the stories looking for the perfect(ly wrong) gift.

I took this photo on Saturday (although it was not “just a common Saturday”, it was a real “Panic Saturday”) and at the end I enjoyed a lot this uncommon day. I thought to capture an image with people crossing in front of my lens, simply because a shopping window is a shopping window if there are people…

The conclusion is the same: only art and beauty (and photography) can save our souls…

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Alla Balera dell’Ortica

Milan (Italy). A place where everyone – but literally everyone – should go at least once in life. Old and young people. Professional dancers and just enthusiasts. Locals and tourists. This old-but-revolutionary dancing is located in the Lambrate district, east of Milan. Forget about sophisticated downtown discos: it seems that today’s authentic and genuine entertainment is here at the Balera dell’Ortica. After a quite basic and not particularly tasty dinner (but people do not come here just for eating) the large dance floor gets packed with every type of person, including serious dancers. Couples and groups share their common passion of moving their bodies following the live music, without caring the temperature (it’s pretty hot in Milan in these days) and mosquitoes; and it’s evident they have very much fun!

Honestly, being quite bored of the typical club, I found this place incredibly innovative in its old style. And watching the bursting dance-floor, I was thinking about a very simple question: what do people need to enjoy their nights? Apparently, simplicity and old-style are the keywords.

Milano. Un posto dove ciascuno – ma veramente ciascuno – dovrebbe andare almeno una volta nella vita. Vecchi e giovani. Professionisti e appassionati. Gente del posto e turisti. Questo vecchio-ma-rivoluzionario dancing si trova nel quartiere di Lambrate, a est di Milano. Dimenticate le pretenziose discoteche del centro: sembra che oggi il divertimento autentico e genuino sia qui alla Balera dell’Ortica. Dopo una cena piuttosto banale e non particolarmente gustosa (ma la gente non viene qui solo per mangiare) l’ampia pista da ballo si affolla di ogni tipo di persona, compresi danzatori veri. Coppie e gruppi condividono la passione di muovere i loro corpi al tempo di musica, senza preoccuparsi troppo della temperatura (fa piuttosto caldo a Milano in questo periodo) e delle zanzare, e si vede che si divertono un sacco!

Sinceramente, essendo piuttosto stufo dei soliti club, ho trovato questo posto incredibilmente innovativo nel suo stile “all’antica”. E osservando la pista da ballo che scoppiava di gente, mi sono posto una domanda molto semplice: di cosa ha bisogno al giorno d’oggi la gente per divertirsi? A quanto sembra, le parole chiave sono semplicità e vecchio stile.

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The Italian Stock Exchange (Palazzo Mezzanotte)

Milan (Italy). Piazza Affari is an important square in Milano, not only because it hosts the Italian Stock Exchange, but also because there is the famous sculpture named “L.O.V.E.”, crafted by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. L.O.V.E. is an acronymous: L is for “Libertà” (freedom), O is for “Odio” (hate), V is for “Vendetta” (revenge) and E is for “Eternità” (eternity). The statue represents a hand, which is making the typical fascist salutation, but with all the fingers – except the medium one – cut or consumed. It must be considered that the building of the Italian Stock Exchange is an example of architecture from the fascist period – therefore the finger can be intended as directed to fascism and, in general, to every regime. However – as the majority of people think – it’s also a clear “f**k off” to the financial world. Whichever meaning you want to see within L.O.V.E., I recommend a visit to Piazza Affari: during the day it is crowded by white collars and bankers, but by night it is surprisingly quiet and silent.

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Let’s Listen to the Sound of Milan (City’s Voices, Alberto Garutti)

Milan (Italy). There are some afternoons during the weekend, in which I really love (well more then love, it’s a sort of need) to take one of my cameras, leave home and walk around randomly, without a specific destination or assignment. When I was living in Istanbul, I remember I used to go very frequently to Uskudar to take photos of people, landscapes, situations: it was a great way to fight against the stress accumulated during the week and relax a bit.

Being now in Milan, one of my favorite “walk around” areas here is the new site at Porta Nuova, with the UniCredit Tower and some other modern buildings such as the Bosco Verticale. The situation here is of course completely different from the one I was dealing with in Istanbul. In fact, photographing around Uskudar was mainly based on trying to capture the unique mix given by interesting people, a breathtaking landscape, and – sometimes – peculiar situations (to give an example: this is one of my favorite photos ever, taken on the Bosphorus seaside close to the Kiz Kulesi). Photographing around Porta Nuova and Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan is a totally different situation, and when I’m there walking around, my attention is mostly captured by the architecture, and how it can influence the behavior of people spending their time there (many people gather here for a walk).

The photo posted here is an example: it’s an interesting artwork by Alberto Garutti. Several pipes – 23, to be exact, and they look like trumpets – connecting different floors of the building, and used by people to listen to the sounds from underground. The name is “City’s Voices”, and people show to appreciate them putting their ear to listen to the soft noise coming from the other floors (as said, “underground”).

I photographed this artwork using a Leica Q camera with its wonderful 28 mm Summilux lens: the perfect angle for situations like this one (in my opinion).


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Milan from the Window of Tram n. 1

Milan (Italy). This photograph demonstrates – if necessary – that in every moment of the day there is an opportunity to capture an image (and how useful and handy is the Ricoh GR camera, which perfectly fits in my raincoat pocket and is ready to use in every moment).

Yesterday I was on my way home back from the office and I jumped on the tram n.1. It is definitely a very old but characteristic coach, which dates back around 1920 – 1930 but is now fully operating after a complete and renovation work. When I was sit on one of its wooden benches, I was thinking about how watching a city from the window of a tram is an amazing experience. If in Lisbon, the famous tram n. 28 crossing the Alfama district is one of the most popular touristic attractions, why it cannot be the same here in Milan? Not to mention how nice and interesting can be photographing life from and inside trams! I’m developing a specific project about it…

Here, the tram is crossing Largo Cairoli, moving from Foro Bonaparte to Via Cusani; through the window I can see the Expo Gate and the Sforza Castle in Piazza Castello.

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The Mercato Metropolitano in Milan

Milan (Italy). The Mercato Metropolitano is a new – and I think pretty successful – experiment in the vibrant landscape of Milano. It was opened some months ago, just before the summer season, but I think it will be closed soon because it’s largely open air – so do not wait too much if you have not been there yet.

I went to the Mercato Metropolitano some weeks ago and I liked it. It’s the the place to go if you want to eat some nice street food, with many regional cookeries in a very informal environment – as a “metropolitan market” can be. To be honest, I was expecting something more similar to the Mercato Centrale (Florence) or the Mercado do Ribeira (Lisbon), where the daily market in the evening is transformed into a large restaurant. But the concept – in terms of food quality and offer – is quite close to them.

The Mercato Metropolitano is close to Porta Genova: there is one metro line (the Green one) and several trams to / from there. It’s also a nice place to take some photos (as of course I did, with my Leica Q).

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