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Urban Development

Landscape of Milan At Take Off From Linate Airport

Milan (Italy). This activity of photographing Milan at take off from Linate city airport – I must say – is going to entertain me a lot. Indeed, Linate is in my opinion one of the airports that offers the most spectacular take-offs, since after having left the runaway, the planes (at least those directed to North) usually turn toward the Alps flying over the city and therefore offering a very interesting view. In this regard, my suggestion is booking a window seat at the left of the plane (letter “A”) since the city’s landscape is mostly at that side.

Some mornings ago, while I was flying to Paris Orly (ORY) from Linate (LIN), the air was so clean that the view was reaching the Alps and I could even see their peaks with still a bit of snow. Since at take-off there was already enough light (AZ 350 flight at 8:55 AM) I decided to develop the photo in black and white. For the occasion, I used a 50 mm Summilux lens, also because the composition – with a thick window in between, “not very ASPH” – in these situations is not always very easy.

By the way, if Linate is an amazing airport for taking off, I think is worth mentioning Venice Marco Polo (VCE) as probably the most beautiful airport for landing! In this case, the best seats are the window ones at the right side (letter “F” for short and medium-haul flights).


Milano. Questa cosa di fotografare Milano mentre sto decollando dall’aeroporto cittadino di Linate devo ammettere che sta iniziando a divertirmi parecchio. Del resto, questo è a mio avviso uno degli aeroporti che offre i decolli più spettacolari, dal momento che dopo aver staccato dalla pista, gli aerei (almeno quelli verso nord) sono soliti virare verso le Alpi e passare sopra la città offrendo uno spettacolo molto interessante. A tal proposito, il mio consiglio è quello di prendere un posto finestrino a sinistra (“A”) dal momento che la città si sviluppa in buona parte da quel lato.

L’altra mattina, mentre andavo a Parigi, la visuale arrivava fino alle Alpi, tanto da poterne vedere le cime con ancora un po’ di neve. Dal momento che al decollo c’era già abbastanza luce (volo AZ350 alle 8:55 del mattino) ho deciso di convertire la foto in bianco e nero. Per l’occasione ho utilizzato un obbiettivo 50 mm Summilux, anche perchè la composizione – con un finestrino di mezzo – in questi casi non è sempre facilissima.

Per inciso, se Linate è un bellissimo aeroporto da cui decollare, credo valga la pena ricordare che Venezia Marco Polo (VCE) è forse il più bell’aeroporto in cui atterrare! In questo caso il posto migliore è il finestrino lato destro (lettera “F” per gli aerei a corto e medio raggio).

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Positano (Postcard of an Overpopular Landscape)

Positano (Italy). Some landscapes shouldn’t be photographed: not because they are not beautiful; on the contrary, because they are so popular (even too much, “overpopular“!) that at the end everyone captures the same image with the same composition…

This landscape of Positano is a glaring example: I think that millions of postcards with this view have been sent for years, not to mention – more recently – selfies and photos shared on social networks. Estimating the number of photographers (professional and amateur) that every day come here along the Route 163 to Praiano and Amalfi to capture all the same image is impossible. And a search on Google can give just an idea.

What makes a photo so popular? Is it possible thinking about a sort of infection that makes people take all the same photo? If so, why? In my opinion, I believe it’s the “I have been here” attitude, which in the past was just limited to writing greetings on the back of a postcard, and that today – with the presence of social networks (and with the “check-in” function) – has degenerated in a sort of collective paranoia.

True, I’m contradicting myself since I took this image too. But in my partial defense I can say that my camera is not connected with any smartphone (it even does not have a screen!), that I did not tag myself here while I was capturing this photo and that I’m posting it here in my blog two months later…


Positano. Ci sono dei panorami che forse sarebbe meglio non fotografare: non perchè il posto non sia bello, anzi. Al contrario, perchè è talmente famoso (troppo famoso!) che alla fine tutti scattano la stessa immagine con la stessa composizione…

Questa vista di Positano ne è un esempio lampante: credo che negli anni siano state spedite milioni di cartoline con questo scorcio, per non parlare – in tempi più recenti – di selfie e di altre foto da social network. E’ impossibile stimare il numero di fotografi (sia professionisti che semplici appassionati) che ogni giorno si posizionano qui, lungo la strada statale 163 verso Praiano e Amalfi, per catturare tutti la stessa immagine. E per rendersene conto basta fare una ricerca con google.

Cos’è che rende una foto così popolare? E’ possibile pensare a una sorta di contagio, per cui tutti vogliono fare la stessa foto? E se si, perchè? Personalmente credo sia la mentalità del “io ci sono stato”, che se in passato si riduceva appunto a un saluto scritto sul retro di una cartolina, con l’avvento dei social network (e dei “check-in” nei vari posti) è degenerata in una specie di mania collettiva.

E’ vero, mi sto contraddicendo dal momento che anche io ho fatto questa foto. Ma a mia parziale discolpa, posso dire che la mia macchina fotografica non è collegata allo smartphone (non ha nemmeno lo schermo!), che non mi sono “taggato” mentre l’ho scattata e che la sto postando nel mio blog quasi due mesi dopo averla fatta…

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Alfama District in Lisbon from the Pool at Memmo Hotel

Lisbon (Portugal). Alfama is the oldest and probably the most characteristic district of Lisbon: it goes from the Tejo river up to the Sao Jorge Castle, and it is today a very popular touristic attraction. Every day, thousands of people come here – most of them with the popular tram number 28 – and walk up and down this picturesque labyrinth made of narrow streets, small squares and cozy restaurants playing fado.

The thing that impressed me most, and that I tried to capture when I was contemplating the landscape of Alfama at the beginning of sunset, is the perfect coexistence of sumptuous and elegant churches emerging from a dense jumble of roofs and terraces (the typical “miradouro”). This strong contrast in my opinion represents the true essence of Alfama, a sort of DNA of this district, which went – in the years – through opposite periods. In fact, if during the Moorish domination the Alfama was corresponding with the whole city, with the later expansion to west the district started its decadency and became inhabited mostly by poor people and fishermen. With the devastating earthquake of 1755, the Alfama was not affected and it was therefore preserved by any activity of reconstruction, keeping its original urban texture. With the recent renovation of old houses and with an activity of deep restoration, the Alfama is today one of the most vibrant part of Lisbon, populated both by locals and by foreigners.

I captured this image from the poolside on the roof of the Memmo Alfama Hotel, the first boutique hotel in Lisbon: a perfect terrace where to enjoy a drink watching one of the most popular and spectacular view of the Portugal’s capital.

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Afterwork at the Esplanade de la Defense n.3

Paris (France). I frequently spend my after-work time walking around La Défense, a place where I come frequently (even now I’m on a flight from Milan to Paris); and that I have been photographing for years (most of my photos at La Defense are posted under this tag expressly created). Every time I wonder the same questions about this place. Do I like it? Honestly, I don’t know. How it could be living here? I can hardly answer this question too, and I admit I find myself watching residents trying to understand how is the quality of their lives. But the question in absolute terms most difficult to answer is always the same: how will be this place in – I don’t know, let’s say – ten years?

Yet, I must admit that in terms of photography, La Defense is still one of the most interesting places to explore in Paris; its architectures and its urban development are worth being analysed with attention, especially because they reveal a sort of historical stratification. Since the end of the ’50s, with the construction of the CNIT (Centre des nouvelles industries et technologies) building, through the ’70s and the ’80s with buildings such as the Tour Areva and the Tour Total, until beginning of 2000 with the erection of more futuristic skyscrapers like the Tour EDF, La Defense has become the largest business park in Europe.

Very personally, the feeling I have when I walk along its extended “Esplanade”, between the Grand Arche and the fountain close to Neully-sur-Seine, is the one of a place that has begun a slow but relentless and conscious decadence (even if embellished by marvelous early fall sunsets), and that for some aspects is even proud of it, according to the most typical Parisian style. The economic crisis, which has not spared France, the competition with other “banlieues”, which are trying to attract similar developments, and the transportation network, which has already reached its maximum capacity and therefore can’t increase the number of commuters transported daily, are posing serious obstacles to the growth of this area and probably it couldn’t be different.

If it’s true that knowing the past is necessary to understand the future, I think that the future of La Defense is written into its glorious (albeit unique) past, in its having been a symbol for the 20th century’s city planners, but also a place that has lost its leadership in favor of new different models. But It is still a place that is worth being visited and photographed, possibly posing some questions: and if someone has the answer(s) to mine, I’d be glad to know it.


Parigi. La Defense è una zona di Parigi che frequento molto per lavoro (anche adesso sono su un volo da Milano a Parigi) e dove mi capita spesso di camminare: nel tempo ho scattato diverse fotografie, che pubblico qui nel blog con un tag appositamente creato, e ogni volta mi interrogo su come sia questo posto. Mi piace? Non lo so. Come potrebbe essere vivere qui? Anche questa sinceramente è una domanda a cui rispondo a fatica, tanto che – lo ammetto – mi ritrovo a guardare con curiosità i residenti, cercando di capire la qualità della loro vita. Ma la domanda in assoluto più difficile è sempre la stessa: come sarà questo posto tra – non so, diciamo – dieci anni?

Eppure, devo ammettere che dal punto di vista fotografico rimane uno dei posti più interessanti di Parigi da esplorare; le sue architetture e il suo sviluppo urbanistico meritano di essere osservate con attenzione, soprattutto perché rivelano una sorta di “stratificazione” storica. Tra la fine degli anni ’50, con la costruzione dell’edificio CNIT (Centre des nouvelles industries et technologies), attraverso gli anni ’70 e ’80 con edifici come la Torre Areva e la Torre Total, fino a inizio 2000 con la realizzazione di grattacieli più avveniristici (tra cui la Torre EDF), La Defense ha visto uno sviluppo che l’ha portata a essere il più grande centro direzionale d’Europa.

Molto personalmente, la sensazione che si ha camminando dopo una giornata di lavoro lungo la sua enorme “Esplanade”, dal Grand Arche alla fontana in prossimità di Neully-sur-Seine, è quella di un posto che ha iniziato una lenta ma inesorabile e consapevole decadenza (magari abbellita dai meravigliosi tramonti di inizio autunno), e che per certi aspetti riesce ad andare fiero di questa cosa, nel più classico stile parigino. La crisi economica che ha colpito anche la Francia, la competizione di altre zone della banlieue che cercano di attirare analoghi sviluppi urbanistici e la saturazione dei mezzi di trasporto che difficilmente potrebbero portare nuovi afflussi di persone, stanno creando dei seri ostacoli alla crescita di questa area, e probabilmente non potrebbe essere diversamente.

Se è vero che per capire il futuro bisogna conoscere il passato, penso che il futuro di questo posto sia scritto nella sua storia gloriosa ma irripetibile, nel suo essere stato un luogo simbolo per l’urbanistica del ventesimo secolo ma che oggi ha perso la sua leadership a favore di altri modelli. Ma che rimane un posto da vedere, da fotografare, e sul quale porsi certe domande: e se qualcuno – alle mie – può darmi una risposta, sarei ben lieto di saperlo.

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Vietnam Electricity Grid

Hanoi (Vietnam). During my trip around Vietnam, I noticed that the electricity grid is considered more than just an attraction: it’s a true superstar! Well, I must admit that I was intrigued by scenes like this one above (and they are very frequently, not only in large cities) – and not only because I work in the electricity sector!

So, I was not surprised when I saw this same image here above, printed on t-shirts sold everywhere in souvenirs shops. If you will travel all around Vietnam, you will certainly notice them. They are nice, and quite representative of today’s Vietnam. But I guess – and I’m pretty sure about it – that in few years these t-shirts as well as photographs like this one will be just a funny memory, considering that Vietnam is committed to modernize its infrastructures, including the Vietnam Electricity Grid.

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Cena Con Me

Milan (Italy). Imagine… thousands of people attending a dinner without knowing anything – really anything, including the location – since few hours before the scheduled time. Only few rules, being the most important one on the dress code.

White!

Yes, this is the spirit of Cena Con Me, an event I already photographed a couple of years ago, but that every time is a surprise. The organizers create the event on Facebook and collects the requests. Then, it communicates the location (in Milan) 5 hours before the time. Since that moment, people start collecting all the items prepared in the past weeks and gather to the selected place.

It happens therefore that a pacific place suddenly becomes a mess: a “white wave” made of people, tables, chairs, plates, glasses, balloons, candle holders, flowers, accessorizes… everything is rigorously white.

Beyond the color, there are few more basic rules: respecting the location leaving the place as it was before the event – therefore carrying away any sort of garbage; and closing the event at midnight.

Under the tag “Cena Con Me 2017” I’m posting some photos of the event. The location is Piazzale Giulio Cesare, the heart of City Life, a very interesting new development, with the amazing skyscrapers of Zaha Hadid and Arata Isozaki in the background.


Milano. Immagina… migliaia di persone che partecipano a una cena senza sapere niente – ma veramente niente, compresa la location – fino a poche ore prima dell’orario programmato. Solo poche regole, tra cui la più importante riguarda l’abbigliamento.

Bianco!

Si, questo è lo spirito di Cena Con Me, un evento che ho già fotografato in passato un paio di anni fa, ma che ogni volta è una sorpresa. Gli organizzatori creano l’evento su Facebook e raccolgono le richieste di partecipazione. Successivamente, comunicano il luogo di svolgimento (a Milano) 5 ore prima l’orario programmato. Da quel momento, la gente inizia a prendere tutte le cose preparate nelle settimane precedenti e a ritrovarsi presso il luogo stabilito.

Succede quindi che una piazza tranquilla diventi improvvisamente un caos: una “onda bianca” fatta di persone, tavoli, sedie, piatti, bicchieri, palloncini, candelabri, fiori, accessori… tutto è rigorosamente bianco.

Oltre al colore, ci sono poche regole di base: rispettare la location lasciando il posto come lo si è trovato prima dell’evento – quindi portando via ogni tipo di rifiuto; e chiudere l’evento a mezzanotte.

Con il tag “Cena Con Me 2017” posto alcune foto dell’evento. La location scelta quest’anno era Piazzale Giulio Cesare, nel cuore di City Life, un nuovo sviluppo urbano molto interessante, con sullo sfondo i bellissimi grattacieli disegnati da Zaha Hadid e da Arata Isozaki.

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Entre-temps à La Défense… (In the meantime at La Défense…)

Paris (France). This photograph represents the typical “merge” between my work and my biggest passion! The first one makes me travel very frequently, whereas the second one makes me bring my Leica Q always with me.

The last week I was once again in Paris, at La Défense (technically, La Défense is not Paris, since it’s located in the so called “banlieu”, the Paris Metropolitan Area, and is shared among different municipalities; however, there’s a total urban continuity between Paris and La Défense). With my office at the 38th floor of the very tall EDF Tower, it’s pretty easy to be distracted by the landscape outside my window, and I love sometimes stopping to work and moving my eyes far from the laptop screen.

This image posted here is the landscape I captured some days ago, at sunset. It was late afternoon and the sun was against me: I liked the effect it was giving to this landscape, with the intense blue and orange sky, and with thick clouds filtering the sun rays. I took my Leica from my bag and I made some photos through the window’s glass (luckily, it was clean!).

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The Slum Along the Mekong

Chau Doc (Vietnam). This is a slum – a very poor and overpopulated urban settlement – along the Mekong Delta, in Chau Doc. I went through it directly from the river. As I saw it, I was impressed by the colours of some clothes and towels hung out to dry. However, as I walked along the narrow pier connecting the river to the main street, I remember I could not believe how dark was that path – my eyes were blind and even my camera was not properly set for those conditions of very poor light. I found these two aspects quite symbolic of life in that place…

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