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Pontremoli

Landscape of Pontremoli

Pontremoli (Massa Carrara, Italy). This landscape photo has been taken from a privileged position: the top of the bell tower in the center of Pontremoli, in the Lunigiana territory (more or less the part of Tuscany adjacent to Parma province and Liguria, extended in correspondence of the Magra river’s basin).

Pontremoli is a small, enchanting town with a long and surprising history. Although it’s small and not particularly famous (especially when compared with much more popular destinations in Tuscany, as the towns around Florence or Siena), it is worth a deep and accurate visit, better with a local guide that can help you to discover and better appreciate its artistic heritage.

I have part of my family’s origins here, and probably for this reason I’m always happy when I return to Pontremoli – and I do it whenever I can. Coming here is like finding part of myself, of my ancestors, and feeling the responsibility of keeping a sort of tradition handed down from father to son. Probably I feel the “sense of having roots” particularly important because I’m travelling frequently and I lived in different cities; and maybe one day I will come to live here… who knows?

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Street Decoration (via Ricci Armani)

Pontremoli (Italy). Just another image from a night photo-walk around Pontremoli with a Leica Q camera, shooting at f/1.7 and high ISO values (I must say that this is a wonderful camera with a great lens!).

Well, honestly I don’t have too much to write this time… except that I liked to see how even a simple small plant hung on a wall along a street, can be a nice way to decorate it. So the minute(s) you are saving with a short post to read, can be used to watch the photo longer and maybe to surf more my photo-blog 🙂

Ok, I need a holiday… (few days more!)

 

 

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Pontremoly by Night (Vietata L’Affissione)

Pontremoli (Massa Carrara, Italy). Yesterday late afternoon I was flying from Rome to Milan: let me say, it is one of the best (or at least one of the most original) way to visit Italy, especially if you chose the right-window seat (normally the “F” one) and if the sky is clear, as it was yesterday. The plane flew along its normal route, which means it followed the coast of the Tirrenian Sea from Lazio to Tuscany, and then headed to Milan. If you know a bit the geography of Italy, it will be easy to recognize landmarks like Pisa, Livorno (Leghorn), Lucca and the Versilia coast.

Anyway, when the plane was over La Spezia, it pointed directly toward Milan and flew very close to a small town called Pontremoli, I recognized it because I have there some of my family roots. I have spent there most of my childhood’s summers,and still today a piece of my heart belongs to that place and to its neighborhoods. Here you can see some of the photos that I have been taking around Pontremoli for the past years.

During the few minutes during which I flew above Pontremoli and the mountains around, somehow I thought about this photo, which was taken some days ago (with my Ricoh GR) during a pleasant night walk along the old part of the town. When I was back home, although it was quite late, I decided to develop it and to post it here in my blog. It happens to me sometimes: a place brings me back a memory to which I associate a photo, and somehow to “complete” that moment I think that there’s nothing better than reconsider that photo and post it here in my blog. It’s a sort of “fixing” something for the future, since from now on, when I will watch this photo, I will indirectly go back to my yesterday’s flight: isn’t it weird fantastic? This is another one of those magic features about photography, in my opinion.

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A Bridge To The Past (Pontremoli)

Pontremoli (Italy). A night walking is always a source of inspiration, especially if you can rely on a highly performing camera such as the Leica Q. Even when the light is very low, this fantastic camera is still able to give me the possibility of photographing around me with a good level of confidence. This is another example (was it necessary?).

How mysterious can be a bridge! I took this photograph last summer during a night walk around Pontremoli. Pontremoli? What’s Pontremoli? If you follow my blog, you should know something more about Pontremoli. I have always loved this bridge (named “Ponte del Giubileo”, in English “Jubilee Bridge”): its shape is so curved that if you stand at its beginning, you cannot see what there’s at the other side. For this reason, I like to come here and shoot images from this perspective. And the post’s title is not fortuitous: this is really “a bridge to the past”, because Pontremoli is a very old town and its bridges – including this one – connects different neighborhoods since the Medieval period.

A proverb (I think it is Indian) says “Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it”. Maybe it’s a bit “drastic”, but sometimes I feel it could be mine. Anyway… this post was intended to show how the Leica Q is great at f/1.7, let’s not digress too much!

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Nostra Donna Church in Pontremoli (Pano)

Pontremoli (Italy). Here I’m again with a photograph taken in Pontremoli. I’m happy that – post after post – this small town is finding its well deserved room in my blog.

Some weeks ago I was around Pontremoli with some guests, and I had the opportunity of visiting probably the most beautiful – albeit hidden and unknown – church of the entire city. Its name is Nostra Donna (the full name in Italian is “Chiesa di Nostra Donna” also known as “Oratorio della Madonna del Ponte”) and it’s a true magnificent example of the local baroque style.

To give an idea about the interior of Nostra Donna with its rich decorations, I took several photos and I composed them in a single panoramic view – with an evident unnatural distortion, sorry for that.

However, if you are planning a visit to Pontremoli or – just in case – you are around the Lunigiana region, I strongly recommend you to look for a visited tour contacting a professional guide. In case you might be interested, do not hesitate to write me and I will give you the right contact.

 

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A Half-Hidden Bench (Una Panchina Appartata)

Pontremoli (Italy)

Walking along the steep way to the Piagnaro Castle in Pontremoli, people may notice this bench, nicely decorated with a quote from Italo Calvino’s masterpiece “Marcovaldo”:

“C’era, in un angolo della piazza, sotto una cupola d’ippocastani, una panchina appartata e seminascosta. E Marcovaldo l’aveva prescelta come sua. In quelle notti d’estate, quando nella camera in cui dormivano in cinque non riusciva a prendere sonno, sognava la panchina come un senza tetto può sognare il letto d’una reggia.”

The book is translated also in English, and this is the same quote:

“In one corner of the square, under a dome of horse-chestnuts, there was a remote, half-hidden bench. And Marcovaldo had picked it as his own. On those summer nights, in the room where five of them slept, when he couldn’t get to sleep, he would dream of the bench as a vagabond dreams of a bed in a palace.”

Marcovaldo is a poor rural man, unskilled worker, living with his family in a big industrial city in northern Italy during 1960s (the years of the economic boom). He seems having an affinity with nature, with an evident distaste for city life: in each story, he succumbs to something that appears natural and beautiful but actually disappoints him. Common themes in the stories include pollution, appearance vs. reality, failure, poverty and consumerism.

For this reasons, I found this quote (and this bench) perfectly contextualized with this corner: everyone can see in it the the beauty of small, rural villages; the calm of simple life; the pleasure of sitting here, reading a book and disconnect from the rest of the world. Probably, we all should be a bit more “Marcovaldo” sometimes: am I wrong?

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Bagnone in Lunigiana

Bagnone (Italy). Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I’m always pretty skeptic when I read posts or articles titled with a ranking, such as “the 10 best places to go…” or “the top 5 destinations for…“. I know these titles are useful just for SEO rankings. However, an Italian on-line travel magazine has recently published a post with (translated to English) the “list of small towns that that seem to come from a fairy-tale“.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the lovely Bagnone (in Lunigiana, the northern part of Tuscany) mentioned in this list together with Bibury in England, Hallstat in Austria, Rothenburg in Germany and Gasadalur in Denmark. Of course, these kind of lists cannot be complete and thorough enough; furthermore, the decision to include or to exclude a location is normally left to the opinion of the writer (there isn’t an absolute criteria to compile these rankings). For this reason, I perfectly know that it’s a nonsense talking about Bagnone (and the others) only and simply referring to this list.

However, reading the article made me remember that I had somewhere in my archive a photograph of Bagnone, and I took the opportunity to write this post and to publish this photo because – as I always say – Italy is like a necklace. There are big gems such as its main cities (Florence, Venice, Rome etc.); but there are equally important “small stones” represented by towns like Bagnone, rich of history, culture and traditions.

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Ponte della Cresa: Pontremoli by Night

Pontremoli (Italy). This is a self-promotional post: I hope I won’t seem narcissist, but in these days – until the 7th of August 2016 – I’m participating with three photos at an exhibition on Pontremoli and the Lunigiana region. One of these photos is this one posted here.

The photo (already posted in this blog one year ago, that time in black and white)  shows the very old bridge named “Ponte della Crësa”, which initially was built with wood in the 1300s, and it was reinforced – as it is today – during the 15th century. In the background, two landmarks of Pontremoli: the Bell Tower (popularly known as the “Campanone”) and the Cathedral’s Dome. The old town center of Pontremoli extends over a spit of land between the confluence of the Verde and Magra river, and this bridge is one of the city’s symbols. The name itself – Pontremoli – comes from the latin “Pons Tremulus“, where Pons is the latin word for bridge, whereas Tremulus is an old name for the poplar, the material used to build the bridge. According to another interpretation, “Tremulus” might stem from the fact that the bridge tended to shake. This is to say that Pontremoli has somehow built its history on bridges, and bridges themselves are the subjects of my photos selected for this exhibition.

For those who will be around Pontremoli – in the northern part of Tuscany – in these days, 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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