Nikon D4

Efes and Tofas (Hidirellez at Ahirkapi)

Istanbul (Turkey). A black and white photo taken some years ago (it was 2013) during a Hidirellez nigh photo-walk around Ahırkapı, a district of Istanbul near Sultanahmet (in the Fatih municipality). Hidirellez commemorates the arrival of spring and is a religious holiday for the Alevi community. It is celebrated every year the night between the 5th and the 6th of May, and it is a very special moment because the arrival of spring is seen as a time of new life.

Although today the ceremonial activities for Hıdırellez are prepared especially in villages or towns rather than large cities and metropolises, there’s a “serious” party in Istanbul, around Ahırkapı district as mentioned above. The area becomes the dance floor of thousands and thousands of people, with small bands walking and playing Anatolian instruments (mostly guitars, clarinets and drums).

Of course, when the party gets hotter and hotter, people are thirsty and there’s nothing better than refreshing with a good beer. So, around the narrow streets of Ahırkapı, young entrepreneurs sell bottles of Efes beer using the top of a Turkish Tofas car as a counter.

Istanbul (Turchia). Una foto in bianco e nero scattata alcuni anni fa (era il 2013) nella notte di Hidirellez durante una passeggiata per Ahırkapı, un quartiere di Istanbul vicino a Sultanahmet (nella municipalità di Fatih). La festa di Hidirellez commemora l’arrivo della primavera e per la comunità degli Aleviti è una festa religiosa. E’ celebrata ogni anno la notte tra il 5 e il 6 maggio, e rappresenta un momento molto speciale poichè l’arrivo della primavera è visto come il momento per una nuova vita.

Sebbene oggigiorno le attività del cerimoniale per l’Hidirellez sono preparate prevalentemente nei villaggi o nelle piccole città più che nelle grandi metropoli, a Istanbul c’è una grande festa nel quartiere di Ahırkapı come precedentemente detto. La zona diventa l’arena di ballo di migliaia e migliaia di persone, con piccoli gruppi che camminano e suonano strumenti tipici turchi (prevalentemente chitarre, clarinetti e percussioni).

Ovviamente, quando la festa si infiamma, le persone sono assetate e non c’è niente di meglio che rinfrescarsi con una buona birra. Così, in giro per le strette strade di Ahırkapı, giovani intraprendenti vendono bottiglie di birra Efes usando il tettuccio di una macchina Tofas come bancone del bar.

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Relaxing at the Seraya Shores Hotel in Bali

Bali (Indonesia). I’m sure that photos can have a positive effect on those watching them. Maybe I’m facilitated by the fact that, being the author of these photos, watching them is a way to re-live some moments.

Today it’s one of those days which have been developed in black and white since the morning. No colors at all out of my window, the sky is white – grey, it’s a bit rainy and yes, unfortunately it’s getting colder. Summer is over not only according to the calendar, and I’m in the mood that I must accept it.

But as said… there are photos! Oh yeah, they help me a lot in these cases. This one, for example, has been taken a couple of summers ago in Bali – on the shores of the Lombok Strait in East Bali, to be more precise. I perfectly remember this place: its name is Seraya Shores Hotel and it is located close to Karangasem. I staid there, it was a paradise on earth, and since this weather is going to depress me, I decided to cure my soul with this image.

Ok, outside is still grey, rainy and cold. But for few minutes – the necessary time to write this post – I was feeling like I was there…

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The Amazing Landscape of Safranbolu

Safranbolu (Turkey). Let’s be honest: whenever someone mentions Turkey, I’m quite sure people first think about Istanbul. Very few persons consider that – beyond my beloved Istanbul – there’s a big Country with an incredible heritage witnessed by an incredible number of hidden gems. Don’t you believe it? It means that you do not know Turkey or – even worse – that you do not trust me!

I have always considered myself as a very lucky person; and one of the reasons behind this consciousness is definitely my job: oh yes, my job gives me the possibility to travel very frequently and across different places – not always very nice, though. However, my job has been giving me the possibility of travelling around Turkey for many years, and when I say “around Turkey” it really means “around Turkey”, including the famous South East – before the current local instabilities made those provinces inaccessible. Unfortunately, when I used to travel around Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Van and the whole South East of Turkey, I had not discovered my passion for photography yet. And I’m still kicking myself for this, because I have seen so many wonderful places, which are memories in my mind, my soul, my heart; but not in my hard disk…

Anyhow, sorry for the digression. I was saying that I’m a frequent traveler, and sometimes my lucky star guides me till I find myself staying in very special locations: here is the sense of luckiness that I was mentioning before. And to better express the concept, meet Safranbolu!

Safranbolu can be considered, for all intents and purposes, a pearl in the heart of Anatolia and – no wonder – it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. I believe that Safranbolu deserves a long, calm, meditating visit (it’s around three hours far by car from Istanbul, not so much) of more than just a day. There are very nice hotels, and the city must be visited not only by day, but also (especially) by night, with its characteristic houses illuminated and welcoming people. Especially if you are coming from the chaotic Istanbul, you will be amazed by the feeling of “the village”, while getting lost around the old city’s streets and watching the landscape from the hills around.

And once back to Istanbul, when someone will ask you about Turkey, you will finally talk not only about Istanbul…

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Jorge Mendez Blake – The Castle at the 13th Istanbul Biennial

Istanbul (Turkey). To write this post, I decided to unearth an old photo taken years ago (in 2013) at the 13th Istanbul Biennial – and I did it for two reasons…

The first one, it’s because in these days – after another horrifying terrorist attack, which killed more than 40 people at the Ataturk Airport – I have Istanbul in my heart more than ever. Those who know me (or, at least, those who follow my blog) know how much I love Istanbul, a city where I have lived many years and that completely changed my life (and not only because it was in Istanbul where I discovered my passion for photography, one Sunday afternoon during a walk along the Bosphorus).

The second reason, it’s because I’m more and more convinced that the most efficient (and probably the only) way to fight terrorism, is opening people’s minds to culture; and it’s not a coincidence that one of the activities of terrorist groups is the destruction of cultural heritage (I already wrote some thoughts on it in a post about a night visit at Louvre Museum).

The Jorge Mendez Blake’s work, exhibited at the 13th Istanbul Biennial, was perfectly describing – and it still today describes, without the need of a single word – what I’m trying to explain in this short post. A book, wisely positioned at the base of a wall, shows its destructive force, creating a discontinuity in a tall and solid structure made by little bricks.The metaphor is rather evident: spreading culture will create many of these “discontinuities” and will make walls – built up with terror and hate – collapse.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one….

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