London (UK). Ballerinas walk on the Bridge of Aspiration, which “twists” high above Floral Street in Covent Garden and links the Royal Ballet Upper School with the Royal Opera House. Designed by WilkinsonEyre architects, its name – “Aspiration” – refers to the symbolic passage from the school to the theater.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Milan (Italy). In these days, Milan seems “the place to be” – and not only for architecture lovers, trendy designers and unmissable hipsters. For sure, like every year around this period, the city attracts an incredible amount of people coming here to discover the latest tendencies in the sectors of furniture, lighting, decoration and home appliances.
I cannot miss the opportunity of keeping my eye (and my camera) on this interesting world of course, and I like to share what I’m seeing here in my photoblog (isn’t it its purposes?). What’s really impressive, for those people living here all the year, is assisting to a true and deep change in the city’s spirit: let me try to better express myself. Although I consider Milan as probably the most living, enjoyable, innovative and “sparkling” city in Italy (for sure, one of the best life quality), during the so called “design week” the “routine” goes through an authentic transformation, which means pulling out a completely new soul made not only of parties, events, vernissage, opening ceremonies and installations (these things are pretty normal – let me say) but made of a sense of general “discovery”. Yes, during the Fuorisalone’s week, Milan’s people (re)discover their city made of hidden courtyards, beautiful buildings (some of them exceptionally open to public), street decorations and so on. In other words, it looks like a sort of “inspirational wave” floods the city’s districts (not only the fashionable Brera or 5 Vie, but also Lambrate, Tortona etc.) to demonstrate that the urban environment can react to the daily routine, and transform the ordinary into something of extraordinary.
Of course there are critics: why it can’t be all the year? Why the next week – once the design events will be over – Milan will return to hide its beauty? I’m not in a position to answer; but as long as I see that this creative magma is still boiling under the city’s asphalt, the enthusiasm’s eruption of the design week is very, very welcome!
Among the things that I love most when photographing around the Fuorisalone, there’s observing kids watching these design objects: they often look like hypnotized, completely mesmerized and bewitched by all these lights, forms and materials. Although I guess they are completely new to design, I like imagining that they find in these objects something close to a fairyland, and I must confess that – me too – I’m totally captured by situations like the one photographed here. Could it be a reminiscence of my happy childhood? For sure, I think that few things like design, need to be observed with clean eyes and pure spirit, free from any prejudice and theory. It’s my personal view, but at least it makes me walk for hours from one pavilion to another photographing the installations without feeling the tiredness!
Florence (Italy). Meet the city where I was born… I’m sure you already know Florence, and I guess I won’t be the one that will open your eyes on one of the most beautiful cities on earth. However, I like when I can share with my followers unusual landscapes (with “unusual” I mean not the typical postcard you can find at the top of a search on Google). This is to say that Florence is not only Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Duomo and Uffizi Museum: if you go to Florence, try to dedicate more than few minutes to a walk around the city, enjoying the sunset along the river Arno or from one of the bridges crossing it, and refreshing yourself with the breeze which blows from the sea. This is my personal tip, let me know what you think about it.
Codroipo (Udine / Italy). Zulugne is a Friulian word, means frost. It’s the typical deposit of ice made overnight by humid air in cold conditions. I love walking through a poplars grove early morning in winter, when the sun is rising and the “zulugne” crackle under my feet. This is one of the many landscapes of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and another good reason to love this amazing place of Italy.
Codroipo (Udine). Zulugne è una parola Friulana, e significa brina. E’ il consueto strato di ghiaccio che si deposita a terra di notte in ambienti umidi. Adoro camminare in un bosco di pioppi all’alba di una mattina invernale, quando il sole sorge e le “zulugne” crepitano sotto i miei piedi. Questo è uno dei tanti panorami del Friuli-Venezia Giulia, e un’altra ottima ragione per amare questa bellissima regione italiana.
Florence (Italy). I took this photo last Saturday, when I was walking around Florence enjoying the city where I was born. Exactly one year ago I took the same photo and I posted it with the same title! Perhaps, now that Photographing Around Me is going through its second year of life, I should consider carefully what I posted in the past to avoid the risk of being repetitive…
However, I have been feeling something for this photo since the moment I prepared its composition, trying to include the carousel, the tree and the illuminated building – all of them symbols of Christmas and typical of this period; and I even used it as a cover of my Facebook profile (by the way, feel free to follow me if you want, it’s open to everyone and I use it mainly to share my blog’s posts and some other photos).
Why this photo is so important to me?
Both when I was capturing it, as well as when I was editing and preparing it for the blog, some words came to my mind:
… It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and banish shade
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy …
I guess it won’t take too much time remembering the song’s lyrics these words are coming from (however, just in case…). And I found these words incredibly appropriate, considering the hard times we are going through and what’s happening in the world. So, I truly hope that this Christmas – not only for believers – will come into our lives spreading these exact words and teaching us how to smile. Again.
Udine (Italy). Giovanni Boccaccio mentions Udine and the Friuli region in the 10th Day’s “Fifth Novel” of his most famous masterpiece Decameron written in 1350.
“In Friuli, a country, though cold, glad with goodly mountains and store of rivers and clear springs, is a city called Udine…”
The feelings I have when I walk around Udine are those of a very pleasant city with high life quality, characterized by a typical medieval urban tissue perfectly integrated with stylish shops, cozy cafes and beautiful bookstores.
I love so much visiting Udine and photographing its glimpses. This one in the image is the colonnade along the steep way to the Castle, captured some days ago at sunset.
Udine. Giovanni Boccaccio menziona Udine e il Friuli nella “Novella Quinta” della decima giornata del suo celebre Decameron, scritto intorno al 1350:
“In Frioli, paese, quantunque freddo, lieto di belle montagne, di più fiumi e di chiare fontane, è una terra chiamata Udine…”
Le sensazioni che si hanno passeggiando per Udine sono quelle di una cittadina assai piacevole con una alta qualità della vita, caratterizzata da un’impronta urbanistica tipicamente medievale che si concilia perfettamente con negozi eleganti, caffè ospitali e belle librerie.
Mi piace molto visitare Udine e fotografarne alcuni suoi scorci. Questo nella foto è il colonnato che accompagna la ripida salita al Castello, in uno scatto fatto giorni fa al tramonto.
San Gimignano (Italy). When I take photos of very popular destinations it’s always a big challenge. It’s easy to capture the same image like many others did before, and it’s difficult not to be conditioned by a sort of “already seen syndrome” related to magazines of websites showing something about that specific place.
Travelling around Tuscany, this situation can be very frequent; and it is frustrating – believe me! However, what can make the originality of some photo is strictly related to the curiosity of their author. I travel because I want to see the world, including that world with which I think I’m familiar (Tuscany is part of this world). So when I travel, I like to explore and – possibly – to leave the conventional paths. The photo is the final step of a process, which starts with watching around me and continues with applying my curiosity to what I have been seeing till that moment.
Here, I was in San Gimignano: a place that has been photographed by millions of people I suppose (and there are great shots on the web, really!). However, I was very attracted by one of the many towers – the so called Torre Grossa – which is open to visitors and offers an extraordinary observatory point. I did not hesitate to climb it as soon as I understood that it was open: once on the top, I was completely alone and I captured this photo from there. It’s not my best shot – I know but it’s a bit different from what you can see googling “San Gimignano” on internet.
So, my personal tip for photographers is therefore the following: sometimes, try to click less, and possibly to be more curious!
Florence (Italy). Last weekend I was walking around the downtown of Florence, when I saw this interesting installation made by the contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. It’s a serie of 22 rubber boats positioned in correspondence to Palazzo Strozzi’s windows, on its façade. The installation’s title is “Reframe – Nuova Cornice” (new frame). In these years the same type of boats have been used by refugees which, escaping misery and looking for a better life, cross the Mediterranean Sea and arrive in Italy.
Firenze. Lo scorso fine settimana, passeggiando per il centro di Firenze, ho visto questa interessante installazione dell’artista contemporaneo cinese Ai Weiwei. Si tratta di una serie di gommoni, montati sulla facciata di Palazzo Strozzi, in corrispondenza delle sue finestre. Il nome dell’installazione è “Reframe – Nuova Cornice”. Si tratta degli stessi gommoni utilizzati dai profughi per attraversare il Mar Mediterraneo ed arrivare in Italia per scappare dalla loro miseria alla ricerca di una vita migliore.