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Portogruaro

The Wooden Chapel of Madonna della Pescheria of Portogruaro

Portogruaro (Italy). It’s the end of the year, and it’s therefore time for greetings… Some days ago I went to Portogruaro to meet some friends, and I brought my Leica Q camera, just in case… Portogruaro is a very nice old town located in the north-eastern part of Italy, across the border between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, not too far from Venice. It was quite cold and very, very foggy. And of course, I could not resist the temptation of shooting some night photos around (although my hands were freezing)…

To do this, I chose one of the most characteristic observatory points of this lovely town: it’s a chapel made of wood and dedicated to the “Madonna della Pescheria” (roughly translatable into something more or less like “Holy Virgin Mary of the Fish Market”, but I admit it’s a bit funny). Here, the Lemene river moves the wheel of two old watermills, before heading to the Lagoon of Caorle where it meets the Adriatic Sea. The Chapel dates back to 1627 (as reported in a note on the chapel’s door) and every year there’s a traditional celebration around it, with people coming along the river with their boats, bringing gifts to the Holy Virgin Mary.

I love these hidden corners of Italy: they are able to surprise me every time. As I always say, Italy is like a precious necklace, where main cities (such as Florence, Venice or Rome) are the biggest diamonds, but small towns – like, for example, Portogruaro – are small shining gems and therefore are not less important than the more popular destinations…

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The Sunset at the End of the Rails (Stazione di Portogruaro)

Portogruaro (Italy). This post finds its inspiration from a very nice quote I have recently read. It comes from Russel Baker, an American writer known for having won a Pulitzer Prize with his book “Growing Up”.

It says:

“A railroad station? That was sort of a primitive airport, only you didn’t have to take a cab 20 miles out of town to reach it.”
― Russell Baker

“Sort of a primitive airport”… This is probably the reason why I’m loving more and more train stations! In this period I’m catching a couple of planes per week. Flying itself is not a problem: I find it very relaxing, and with the perpetual lack of time due to “business as usual” activities, when I fly I have finally the possibility to write some posts for my blog or to read a book. But the real problem are airports!

I’m going to hate more and more today’s airports, especially when security reasons force you to arrive more than one hour earlier than your flight departure, you stricter and stricter checks (in some of them such as Munich or Frankfurt, I’m required to open each of my lenses and to wait for an inspector watching through them), and make you stand in line for a lot of time waiting for documents control. Going through an airport is so complicated and frustrating nowadays! Not to mention that if you catch your camera at an airport and you shoot a photograph, it takes very few minutes to security guards to come and ask you questions about what you are doing… Of course people get nervous when they have to fly, I perfectly understand them!

But rail stations … they are so different! Especially small stations such as this one photographed here Portogruaro – Caorle). I took this photo on a Sunday afternoon: people were mostly returning home (Venice, Milan?) after the weekend, some couples were saying good-bye each others, waiting for the following weekend to come and stay together again.  The atmosphere was so different compared to the one even of a medium-size airport! And of course, nobody came to me when I unfolded my camera and I took a picture of the sunset at the end of the rails…

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Ex Perfosfati (Stazione di Portogruaro)

Portogruaro (Italy). I have been watching this building for several years: every time I was arriving to or leaving from the small train station of Portogruaro (a town in the north east of Italy), my eyes were totally captured by this huge sample of industrial archaeology.

Surfing the web, I discovered some interesting things about this building. First of all, it dates back to 1949 (imagine: the Second World War was just finished and Italy was trying to resurrect) and it was built on a former industrial area operative since the beginning of the XX century. The shapes of the two ceiling were two huge paraboloids (37 meters wide, 28 meters high and 70 – the first building – or 90 meters long). These buildings were hosting the activities of the Perfosfati – a large Italian company specialized in producing fertilizers – and their operations ended in 1989, with the closure of the entire complex. Since then, the area was reclaimed (not completely, though) and then abandoned, as it is now.

However, – do not ask me why – I love these buildings! Behind their architecture and their shapes, there’s a long industrial history. The idea that every day hundreds of people were coming here to work, clashes dramatically with its current abandoned status. It looks like a “devastated cathedral” or a ghost town, but it contains the heritage of an industrial past and can therefore be seen as a monument to hundreds of workers that spent part of their life here.

For this reason, when some days ago I arrived here several minutes earlier than my train’s departure, and behind the building there was an amazing sunset coloring the cloudy sky of an intense red, I thought it was the perfect moment to capture this photograph. But I hope that the next photo I will take from here, will talk about the restoration (and development) of this abandoned area.

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