The Central Courtyard at the Palacio da Bolsa in Porto

Porto (Portugal). Yesterday I posted a photo of a nice courtyard in Milan; here today I’m posting the same subject – but this time it is from my recent trip to Porto, the second city of Portugal and one of the most beautiful one.

This sumptuous and elegant neoclassic building is the old Palacio da Bolsa (in English, the Stock Exchange Palace). It’s not used for its original scope anymore: for example, the courtyard photographed here in the past was the negotiations room, and the ceiling is decorated with the emblem of the countries with which Portugal was having commercial relationships.

However, today the Palacio da Bolsa it is still used for the meetings of the local commercial association.and for some special events. During the day, the Palacio da Bolsa opens its doors to visitors, and it is possible to walk along its corridors, as well as to visit its rooms, following a 45 minutes guided tour. I particularly appreciated the fact that during the tour I could shoot photos, and this one is one of my favorite from that visit.

The Palacio da Bolsa is located in the Infante D. Henrique Square in the historical center of Porto, and is designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

To capture this image I used a Leica Q camera: I think its 28 mm lens is very versatile and is very suitable for architecture photography (with a touch of creativity).

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Paris Is A Scratchy City

Paris (France). A photograph taken distractedly, climbing the Centre Pompidou… (I played with an editor to get this effect, for those wondering how the scratches and the Tour Eiffel can be in focus, whereas the couple isn’t)

Parigi. Una foto fatta distrattamente, salendo le scale del Centre Pompidou… (ho giocato con un editor per ottenere questo effetto, per quelli che si domandano come mai i graffi e la Torre Eiffel siano a fuoco, mentre la coppia non lo sia)

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The Hungary Parliament in Budapest

Budapest (Hungary). Thanks to its architecture, to its position on a bank of the Danube river, and to the color of the facade given by the light at sunset, the Hungary Parliament in Budapest is probably one of the most beautiful Parliament buildings in the world. For sure, a building I photographed with great passion and enthusiasm.

For this reason, even if I took this photo long time ago, still it is one of my favorite shots; not only for the sense of calm and tranquility that it gives to me every time I watch it, but also because I think it makes stand out the beauty of the Parliament’s architecture. In few words, this image is something I could see on my wall for long time without getting bored…

To those that are traveling to Budapest – even for a short stay as a weekend – I recommend to sit in front of the Parliament Building on the other side of the Danube river, and contemplate the facade waiting for the sunset. Architecture lovers will find in this landscape a sort of “mystical experience” and will “get drunk” with all those details, decorations and statues; not to mention the perfect coexistence of the general Gothic design with the central dome in perfect XIX Century Renaissance Revival style.

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The Antiquarium Room at the Munich Residence

Munich (Germany). I’m back from a short-but-nice tour between Germany (Bavaria) and Austria (Tirol). This time it was a real holiday, and one of the things that made my trip “special” was the fact that I did not have to catch any plane! This sentence can sound a bit snobbish, but you must believe me: flying every week (sometimes even more than once per week) is becoming tough and frustrating; and – worst thing – is making me associate flying not to holidays anymore, but to business.

For this reason I decided to use the car for my holiday: to do something of really different from the first moment of the trip!

There’s an interesting book written by the Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani. The title is “A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East”, and it’s a story about “slow travelling”. In 1976 – in Hong Kong – a fortune teller told to Tiziano that 17 years later (in 1993) he would have risked to die in an airplane accident. At the end of 1992, Terzani remembered the prophecy and decided to consider it for the following year, travelling without catching airplanes and helicopters – a tough resolution considering he was a journalist assigned on Far East territories. However, during 1993, Tiziano Terzani travelled around Asia using only land and sea transports (car, train and ship) and discovering the pleasure of the “slow-travelling philosophy” through Laos, Thailand, Mianmar, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Mongolia and Russia).

Although my trip did not last one year (but only few days) and I did not visit exotic places such those visited by Tiziano Terzani, it was nice discovering the sense of travelling without the limits imposed by a plane. There’s a sort of compromise in every journey: flexibility (but limited distances) versus reaching the other side of the world in few hours (but with some obvious constraints, such as flights’ schedules, security controls, liquids etc.).

I should try to not forget this experience the next time I will plan my holidays: it could even be an opportunity to discover more my country and its wonderful regions. Or – why not? – one day I could consider to travel around Asia like Tiziano Terzani did: slowly, and just using trains or ships…

For those interested in the posted photo, here are few words about it: I captured this image at the Munich Residence’s “Antiquarium Room”. The Residence (“Residenz”, in German) is a magnificent place in the heart of the old city. This hall is the oldest room in the Residence, and it is really impressive for its dimensions (66 metres length). Duke Albrecht V had it built from 1568 to 1571 for his collection of antique sculptures (hence the name “Antiquarium”) but at the end of the 16th century, Albrecht V’s successors – Duke Wilhelm V and his son Maximilian I – transformed this room into a hall for festivities and banquets. Of course, I decided to represent it looking for the perfect symmetry (no problem, it’s just my obsession).

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Rhythm Is a Dancer: Street Photography in Paris

Paris (France). Street photography in Paris is – let me say – quite an easy experience. There are people, places and situations that perfectly suit with my personal idea for this exciting type of photography. And, to be even more precise, one of my favorite destinations for street photography is Le Marais.

Le Marais is an equally balanced touristic and residential district, more or less corresponding to the triangle formed by Hotel de Ville, Bastille and Place de la Republique. It is a wonderful location for a photo-walk, not only for its beautiful buildings and gardens (Place des Vosges or Musee Carnevalet, just to mention some). In fact, since it is one of the very few areas of Paris where shops are open on Sundays, the streets of Le Marais are very crowded and it is not infrequent meeting bizarre people.

Days ago I was there with my new Leica Q with the specific idea of trying it in a typical street photography session. My attention was captured by some music I could listen to not too far from where I was, something quite usual along Rue des Francs Bourgeois during the weekends. But once I arrived close to the band, I immediately noticed the lovely old woman dancing with them. She was coming from other times: her dress, her hat, and even the way she was moving was making this lovely woman to my eyes as someone coming from another era.

I don’t want to explain this photo since everyone can see its content and imagine a story about her. If you want, feel free to write it here below.

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Palazzo Dal Verme in Milan

Milan (Italy). Imagine a coffee break: you decide to walk to a usual place few meters from your office, and you pass in front a building that every time captures your attention. But this time – don’t know why – you decide to follow your instinct and to enter. And suddenly, you find yourself in one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Milan! Isn’t it magic? For me it is.

Palazzo Dal Verme in Milan was built at the end of the XIV century, and its marvellous courtyard still keeps the original architecture and paintings. I was lucky that nobody was there, so I could take this photograph undisturbed. When the guardian arrived, he told me that photographing was forbidden. I’m sorry sir, you came too late…

I had my coffee apparently as a normal break. But my eyes were still full of this hidden place’s beauty, and the coffee was not the same anymore.

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