A Nice Walk on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). This happens only once per year: it’s an unique event, and Istanbul lovers shouldn’t miss it. Of course I’m talking about the Vodafone Istanbul Marathon!

No, do not misunderstand me: I’m not proposing to run the 42+ km of a full marathon, neither to take the shorter 15 km run. What I’m talking about is to experience the fantastic opportunity of walking along the Bosphorus Bridge, which is normally jammed by cars and trucks, but one time per year is fully dedicated to runners, walkers and families.

Indeed, what for me is a very nice scene to be seen, is how much families and people truly love their bridge, which in this occasion is not simply an “infrastructure”, but becomes something more like a “legendary part of the city” (although it’s not so historical as monuments in Sultanahmet). During the marathon day, after runners’ start, people gather on the bridge to walk, discuss, protest, have breakfast (traditions matter!), play backgammon (tavla), sell simit with ayran and – of course – to take unique photos. In other words, the bridge – which normally connects the two sides of Istanbul, Europe and Asia – in this special day keeps its function of connecting “people” from different political parties, social extraction, cities of Turkey, football teams (yes, normally they fight like cats and dogs, but on the bridge they become friends) and so on. A sort of “occupy the bridge” day: isn’t it fantastic?

This here is one of the many photos I took last year during the 2014 Vodafone Istanbul Marathon (I created a specific tag): just click on the link to see the others; but if it happens you are in Istanbul the marathon day (this year it will be on the 15th of November) do not miss this great opportunity of experiencing something of unique.

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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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Panic Saturday in Milan

Milan (Italy). Have you ever heard the term “Panic Saturday”? It is currently defined as the Saturday before Christmas, when people go around flowing into streets and shopping malls looking for the last-minute gift. Yesterday I was walking around Milan downtown, and this is what I found in front of my eyes: I though that all these people were perfectly transmitting the sense of “panic” – at least, I was panicking thinking about even only the idea of walking through this human wall…

Ok, I was at what is probably one of the most popular spot in town: the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with it’s decorated dome shining of blue crystals, and characterised by luxury shops selling expensive products. It is perfectly logic that places like this attract thousands of people, both locals and tourists. But the situation was really terribly “dense”, and therefore I tried to represent the contrast between the shining, clean and preciously decorated interior of the Galleria, against the dark and chaotic mass of people.

Happy “Panic Saturday” to all…

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Apricots From Damascus (SALT Galata Istanbul)

Istanbul (Turkey). Days ago, I visited the SALT Galata Gallery in Karakoy, Istanbul. There was the exhibition “Apricots from Damascus”, an interesting project focused on a group of refugees who rely on their creative and intellectual abilities in the fields of art, writing, and music, to survive in Istanbul. It must be considered that since 2011 Turkey (of course including Istanbul) has become the destination of migrants who left Syria due to the Civil War.

The Turkish translation of “Apricots from Damascus” is “Şam’da Kayısı”, which is also part of an idiomatic expression meaning “It does not get any better than this” (the complete sentence is “Bundan iyisi, Şam’da kayısı”). Furthermore, in countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Peru, the word for “apricot” is “damasco”, which could indicate that, to the Spanish settlers of Argentina, the fruit was associated with Damascus in Syria.

I could stay hours writing here my thoughts about the terrible situation in Syria and the immigrants’ conditions. And most probably, I even would not say anything of interesting, being all of us used to the stream of images coming from this cruel war. I just want to remark this exhibition, and how arts can be part – if not of the pacification process – at least of the refugees’ survival.

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At The Moscow Metro Station

Moscow (Russia). One of the Moscow “must see” is the network of its amazing metro stations. One normally thinks about a metro station simply as a transit place, where to catch or to get off from a train to move from a part of the city to another. Well, in Moscow it’s not exactly like this – at least, not only…

In fact, some metro stations in Moscow look like sumptuous underground buildings, completely decorated with mosaics, statues, chandeliers and frescoes. Once there, you are really motivated to stay and to enjoy the beauty of architectures and decorations. And of course every photographer should include these places for very intensive street photography sessions!

Before travelling to Moscow, as I usually do every time I’m preparing a trip, I spent some time on internet to learn something about the city and to select the best locations for photography. It’s a very exciting exercise, which somehow anticipates the flavor of the incoming trip; but it’s also very useful to optimize the available time – especially when the trip is squeezed in a weekend – as it was my case in Moscow. Of course, the result of my research anticipated me that most of the top ranking places were the metro stations; but when I then opened the proposed images, almost each of them was showing the stations completely without people, and exclusively focused on the artistic, decorative and architectural part. Therefore my “pre-impression” on Moscow metro stations was basically about wonderful locations, but – let me say – without soul, without stories, without daily lives: something closer to a theater scenic design than to a place where every day millions of people cross their life and stories.

Once there, I totally changed my mind: the most impressive thing was given by the mass of people, some of them walking in every direction, some others waiting on a bench. There was a world there underground, and I was so attracted by its inhabitants with their unknown stories, habits, lives. You could think that it’s the same in every metro station in the world: theoretically it’s true, but practically it isn’t. The context, given by the fantastic interiors, was somehow able to transform those de-facto public place into a theater, people into actors, lives into plots. It’s difficult to explain, unfortunately.

Of course, I could not resist too, and in every station I took also some “panoramic” photos; but at the end I selected this one here as one of my favorite, because it is able to give me the sense of life typical of those places. The lesson learnt is pretty clear…

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One More Photo From The Istanbul Marathon

Istanbul (Turkey). In these days I’m posting many photos about the Vodafone Istanbul Marathon (they are all collected under a common tag). The reason is simple: I have lived in Istanbul for many years, and the marathon is one of the best event for capturing very interesting photos; not only of the city – although the landscape from the Bosphorus Bridge is quite extraordinary – but also of people, which gather on the bridge to walk freely and enjoy an unusual Sunday morning.

And – as a photographer – I think that the best observatory point is exactly the mid of the bridge between the two traffic lanes. Well, I admit one reason is due to my addiction for symmetries. But it’s not only for that: I also love to see the human flow coming toward me and observe every single person, alone or in a group. In the behavior of them I try to understand their relationship with the city and, in a wider view, with the whole country. As I already wrote in one of my previous posts about the Istanbul Marathon, the bridge – which normally is a “transit place” to connect two continents – the day of the marathon becomes a gathering place, the place-to-be where people meet “to-be-there” and externalize their feelings, emotions, sentiments, passions and so on.

This Sunday morning Istanbul will meet on the Bosphorus Bridge (the first one). It would be a mistake not being there…

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Erode (Heroes of the Chennai Central Railway Station)

Chennai (India). Let’s step back to 2012! Photography is a sort of time machine for me, and surfing through my archive is an incredible source of memories…

Some 4 years ago I was in Chennai, a large Indian city on the east coast of the country (the name of the region is Tamil Nadu, to be more precise). It was Sunday morning, I had just finished an intense week of studies (I was in Chennai because at that time I was attending an executive MBA, which was including modules from different cities around the world) and my flight was scheduled for that night. So, I was completely free for some hours: what a fantastic opportunity for taking some photos!

I immediately started thinking about a possible destination for an interesting shooting, and – damn! – there wasn’t any better place than the train station! When I asked to my tuk-tuk rider to bring me to the Chennai Central Railway Station, he was a bit surprised of the fact that I was travelling without any luggage (only my camera backpack) and I guess he did not understand my intentions. After I paid him, he showed me the main entrance smiling at my excitement. In few minutes, I was in the station’s main hall, consulting the train table to choose the most “inspiring” platform for my photo-shooting session.

My straightforward decision was for the most crowded platform, where there wasn’t the train yet: I supposed people were waiting for boarding, and I was right. When “Erode” (this is the name of the train, I guess from the namesake Indian city 400 km south-west of Chennai) arrived, people started pushing each others to board, in a very disordered but nice situation.

I took this picture in that exact moment…

Interestingly, the name “Erode” comes from Greek, and it means “descending from heroes”: to be honest, I think that the true heroes here are those travelers who are boarding on what apparently will be a very crowded train!

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