The Old, Massive and Symbolic Ponte Stemma in Pontremoli

Pontremoli (Italy). I already posted a photo mentioning my participation – with three photos – at an exhibition on Pontremoli and the Lunigiana region until the 7th of August 2016 at the Art Gallery “Ex-Macelleria“. I expressly created the tag “Pontremoli Photographic Exhibition 2016” to see all of them with one click…

As mentioned in another post, Pontremoli takes its name’s root from the Latin word “Pons“, bridge. For this reason, I selected – among many photos in my archive – three images of three different but representative bridges, all of them captured by night. This one here shows of a very massive bridge, called Ponte del Casotto, which is placed at the confluence between the two rivers, Magra and Verde. It’s a very old stone bridge: the original structure dates back to the end of the 14th century and it was reinforced in 1568. This is the same bridge that appears in the city’s insignia (in Italian: “stemma”) and for this reason it’s usually known locally as “Ponte Stemma”.

For those who will be around Pontremoli – in the northern part of Tuscany – in these days until the 7th of August, the exhibition will be held at the Galleria d’Arte Ex-Macelleria, Via Garibaldi 27 – 50027 Pontremoli (Massa Carrara). Opening hours: 10.30 / 13.00 and 16.30 / 19.30.

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Red Full Moon Rising on the Gulf of Naples

Naples (Italy). Usually I never post similar photos in this blog, or – at least – I never do it in a short time period. But this landscape of Naples, taken few hours after the previous one, left me literally breathless and I thought it was deserving an exception.

Let me try to describe the context… I was attending a special pre-wedding party at my hotel’s rooftop, and I can easily say that it was already a “perfect night”. Imagine: one of those nights with perfect people, perfect atmosphere, perfect food & drinks; one of those nights when you ask yourself: “what else? what can I desire more than what I’m living right now?”. Then – by chance – you turn back and … “Oh my God!!” There was a full moon just rising on the Gulf of Naples: it was big, perfectly circular and red. And it was illuminating the entire cost with its gentle warm light.

I could not resist: I had my small and powerful Ricoh GR with me (as usual) so I placed it on the fence and I took this long-exposure photograph, trying to balance the different lights’ intensities. This is the final result, and watching this photograph is a little bit like living that night again: that un-for-get ta-ble perfect night with a red full moon rising on the Gulf of Naples.

(Isn’t it one of the great features of travel photography?)

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Landscape of Paris from the Hotel Melia La Défense

Paris (France). Here we are: in a couple of days it will be Christmas, and with it the end of 2015 is approaching. Time flies, and the last months have been characterized by a very (too much!) hectic life… I traveled so frequently in the last period, that in few weeks I upgraded my frequent flyer status directly to gold. Almost all my trips have been to / from Paris; and almost all my stays in Paris have been limited to La Defense – which is not exactly the most exotic place in town.


The last time I was there, I spent a night at the Hotel Melia, one of the many hotels around the Esplanade de la Defense; and although it was what is normally recognized as a business hotel, there was a nice sky bar with an open air terrace. Of course, after dinner, I could not resist the temptation and I went there with my camera, looking for a stable place to put it for this long-exposure shot.

Paris has something…

It’s not my favorite city where shooting photos because – probably – it is “overphotographed” (I do not think this word exists). However, every time I see a landscape of Paris, I remain fixed in a sort of contemplation. Especially from La Defense, the city looks flat with few churches’ domes, illuminated streets and – of course – the Tour Eiffel. And a sense of “need of taking an original photo” pervades me, like a challenge, probably a reaction to what I was saying with my neologism… I’m never sure enough I accomplish my mission, and in this occasion is the same story; but I liked the final result of this capture, with the illuminated tower and its strong light-rays completing the scene.

And since I’m not sure I will be able to post something before Christmas, I will use this image to share my best wishes with all my readers and followers.

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The Ramadan Drummer

Istanbul (Turkey). Tomorrow, June 18th, is the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan (called Ramazan in Turkey). Every night, all around Turkey’s cities – from large ones to villages – a Ramadan drummer (its name should be “Mesaharaty”) will walk around the streets to wake people up before the Sahur (or Suhoor), the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting.

I still remember the first time I was woken up by the passage of a Ramadan drummer: at that time I was on holiday in Goreme (Cappadocia) and initially I thought the drum beats were coming from a local party. Only the day after I learned about this tradition: one night I was moved by curiosity and I decided to look for – and to meet – a real drummer.

I went to Balat, one of the most conservative (and beautiful) district of Fatih, in Istanbul. I had to wait more or less till 3 am before listening to the first beats of a drum, and I was really excited to take part to that event in such a close and thorough way. The drummer was so determined and committed with his task, that he was not at all disturbed about my presence, and I was free to stay few meters behind him. When he saw my camera and understood my intentions, he even invited me to follow him: we walked together through the narrow and old streets that go up and down all around Fener and Balat, and when we were crossing other drummers doing the same, I had the feeling that “mine” was looking proud of my presence. It was a great experience, both photographically and under the human point of view – although a bit challenging for the low light conditions. I took hundreds of photographs in less than half an hour, but I selected this one posted here – which I decided to develop in black and white – as the most representative of a great experience: my special night with a Ramadan drummer.

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Jane’s Carousel in New York

New York (USA). Jane’s Carousel is one of the magic places in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a very old carousel, you can read the entire history here in the official webpage. I photographed this place one night I was walking around the Brooklyn Bridge: it was a cold winter night (and when I say “cold”, it means “freaking cold”!) with very few people around. When I saw the carousel, it was like a mirage: it was closed, but lights were on and horses in the glassed structure were looking as ready to start their ride again. All around, there were Manhattan’s lights, forming a perfect frame. Somehow, that moment warmed me so much that I spent half-an-hour shooting this scene.

Both last and this December (2013 and 2014), this photograph has been chosen by Jane for the Christmas newsletter. This is the kind of things that make me proud: not only because I’m talking about one of the most popular place in New York City (by the way, this place won the Travel and Leisure 2012 Design Awards as “Best Public Space”), but also because I like to believe that if Jane’s Carousel warmed my heart that night, maybe with my photograph I can now warm someone else’s heart. Isn’t it what a photographer should try to do every time?

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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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City Lights Rainy Nights (in Paris)

Paris (France). Rain in Paris is not necessarily an bad event. I like photographing the city’s landscape with raindrops running down the window’s glass. Here, I was at the 38th floor of a building (the EDF Tower at La Defense), definitely a privileged position for such landscapes.

Parigi. Parigi con la pioggia può non essere così male. Mi piace fotografare il panorama urbano con le gocce d’acqua che scendono giù lungo il vetro della finestra. Qui ero al 38esimo piano di un palazzo (la Torre EDF a La Defense), decisamente una posizione privilegiata per questo tipo di panorami.


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Florence by Night (Landscape from Villa Bardini)

Florence (Italy). This is a postcard; an “easy” postcard. I know. And I’m not a big fan of this type of photos. But it’s also Florence, my city, captured from probably the best observatory in town; and I could not resist. This image has been taken from the terrace of Villa Bardini, a former private residence now used for exhibitions. From there, it seems possible touching the heart of the city; and by night, Florence becomes even more magic. As said: I could not resist.

Firenze. Questa foto è una cartolina; una “facile” cartolina. Lo so. E non sono un grande amante di questo genere di foto. Ma è anche Firenze, la mia città, fotografata da quello che probabilmente è il punto di osserazione migliore possibile; e non ho potuto resistere. Questa foto è stata scattata dalla terrazza di Villa Bardini, in precedenza una residenza privata, oggi utilizzata per ospitare delle mostre. Da là, è possibile toccare il cuore della città; e di notte, Firenze diventa ancora più magica. Come detto, non ho potuto resistere.

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From the Tram Number 2

Milan (Italy). The “2” is a tram moving around Milan. It’s an old model (not the oldest one, though), which still gives the possibility of opening the windows (new trams don’t, unfortunately). When I jump on trams like the number 2, I like to stay in the back of the last coach and take some photos of Milan from this privileged and quite unusual position. When the tram moves, with a slow shutter speed you can get nice effects (maybe I will post something in the future), but when it stands waiting for the traffic light becoming green, you can enjoy a bit of street photography without being noticed.

The photo I’m posting here is just a “quick&dirt” sample. But I have an insane idea… stay tuned and follow my blog!

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At Christmas Time, We Let in Light and Banish Shade (Florence, 2015)

Florence (Italy). I took this photo last Saturday, when I was walking around Florence enjoying the city where I was born. Exactly one year ago I took the same photo and I posted it with the same title! Perhaps, now that Photographing Around Me is going through its second year of life, I should consider carefully what I posted in the past to avoid the risk of being repetitive…

However, I have been feeling something for this photo since the moment I prepared its composition, trying to include the carousel, the tree and the illuminated building – all of them symbols of Christmas and typical of this period; and I even used it as a cover of my Facebook profile (by the way, feel free to follow me if you want, it’s open to everyone and I use it mainly to share my blog’s posts and some other photos).

Why this photo is so important to me?

Both when I was capturing it, as well as when I was editing and preparing it for the blog, some words came to my mind:

… It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid

At Christmas time, we let in light and banish shade

And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy …

I guess it won’t take too much time remembering the song’s lyrics these words are coming from (however, just in case…). And I found these words incredibly appropriate, considering the hard times we are going through and what’s happening in the world. So, I truly hope that this Christmas – not only for believers – will come into our lives spreading these exact words and teaching us how to smile. Again.

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