December Highlights!

No matter what, time runs fast.

In times of pain or sorrow, it seems slowing down a bit, but it is just our perception, in the end. Time doesn’t matter of you, of you needs, of your way of living or acting. Like nature, it goes on its own way. I have come to ignore, then acknowledge, then like time, because of it’s natural bluntness. Move straight forward, do not ever stop.

So, as my last blog post of the year is approaching the “published” status, I am going to say goodbye to a hard, intense 2014, pretty much ready to start 2015 with less fear and more conviction. I hope you are going too, and many other good feelings and great dispositions.

My usual December Highlights might just be a short post, this time, but music can’t miss. This is my last playlist, I hope you’ll like it.

From a frozen, lonely world I salute you.

Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest! Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest! Thine be ilka joy and treasure, peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure!

-Ae Fond Kiss-

Enjoy and bring joy with you, always.

Val

Follow me on Facebook: Valanzo

November Highlights!

A quick blog post to remind you that my new monthly favourites post is out&ready for your critics on the apposite Playlist page. When I started this column I called my favourites “Playlist” because I wanted to see everything I loved during the month like a pleasant, fluid collection of notes, with suggestions ready to be shared and used by whoever reads.

I’d love to have more interaction from you, so comments are welcome too (also on my FB page Valanzo) 🙂

My month was busy, and writing today made me realised how much I missed out and how I am not giving my full potential on the things I love. Anyway I am following a plan, and hopefully I will get long-term results that will help me setting my limits higher and manage my time better.

Let’s start with the music, again a mix of new releases and good old tunes, I hope you enjoy it”

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Click on the image to start listen to.

Highlights of the months are the world-record radio program “Serial”, the podcast and my thoughts about it, 25th Fall of Berlin Wall and more. LINK

Enjoy and bring joy with you, always.

Val

August Highlights!

Hello lovely people.

It is, again, the end of the month. Almost the end of the Summer too, so double meaning.

New exciting times and changes are coming, more layers on too. I can’t wait for Autumn to start, maybe bar the rain, but I’ll live to moderately embrace that too. Bring it on! Under “Playlist” you can find a new fine selection ’bout what impressed me this month: flowers, movies, books, radio, etc.. We start with a brand new playlist.

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A very peculiar mix this month: I took some of my favourite songs listened on Youtube, (especially this lovely demo song by Henry Hall for a great Casey Neistat’s video – he’s a filmmaker from NYC, go check him out if you don’t know him!), podcasts like Song Exploder and This American Life. I believe it’s an interesting mix, let me know what you think. To start to listen to and read of other monthly favourites just click on the picture or directly HERE.

Enjoy and bring joy with you, always.

 

Val

Follow me on Facebook: Valanzo

Leftovers ‘013: Genova

Zena. Today I am writing about Genova, Genoa, Zena mainly because a songwriter, a musician called Fabrizio De André. 15 years ago he died..

A death anniversary is not the most pleasant way to introduce a city, so I beg you pardon for the unattractive start. But there are some cities that are incredibly tied with their history and peculiar citizens it is frankly difficult, I might say impossible, to tell about them without talking of inhabitants, present or past ones. De André described his city with devotion and sincerity: two great examples are “Via del Campo”, the street where a prostitute lived, or the album “Crêuza de mä”, entirely in dialect. Masterpieces to understand the rhythm and pace of Zena, its hard on the surface, sweet inside heart, moreover its pulsing, vivid blood.

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The other day there was the anniversary, and my mind was running free through his songs and I could feel like being back in Genova. I love the city; I love it because it’s nestled in hills ending in the sea; I love it because of there the grey turns in orange and light blue, and the light is fierce like the eyes of its citizens. There is a delicate balance between sight, perception and knowledge: multiple directions, infinite discoveries and, from time to time, the harbour and the see. Bliss.

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I thought of short descriptions to explain what Genova is, and I came out with:

– verbally violent (those walls has hosted an impressive quantity of swearing)

"WE don't give a 'flip' about the new Pope"

“WE don’t give a ‘flip’ about the new Pope”

– anarchist (800 years as indipendent sea Republic still count. A lot..) but full of churches everywhere

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– totally blunt (it’s not being rude, it’s being brutally honest and good, like a focaccia)

The most delicious thing your lips can ever touch.

The most delicious thing your lips can ever touch.

– multicultural (the harbour, the mix of cultures, the language so different and funny to hear)

Coloured mix

Coloured mix

– inspiring (Porto Vecchio, the harbour is peacefully active for every mindset)

Porto Antico

Porto Antico

I know I can’t fit in Genova, because I come from “the end of countryside” (P. Conte “Genova per noi”) but I fulfil my desire of Genoa by humbling walking up and downs and taking pictures of dark tight alleys becoming little squares of light. There, in my silences, I’ll be part of this particular city while laughing and observing the sun laying down beyond Magazzini del Cotone, when the lighthouse is already switching on.

More pics here! http://www.flickr.com/photos/60353299@N08/sets/72157639742599343/

Lower Piedmont

Late Fall 2013:

A car ride into some of my favourite books, across Monferrato, Langhe e Roero.

Roero

Roero

Bosco Marengo

Basilica di Santa Croce, built by Pope Pio V, Bosco Marengo.

There is a reason why I came back to this place—came back here instead of to Canelli, Barbaresco or Alba. It is almost certain that I was not born here; where I was born I don’t know. There is not a house or a bit of ground or a handful of dust hereabouts of which I can say: ‘This was me before I was born’.

– Cesare Pavese, La luna e i falò (The moon and the bonfire) 

View just above Canelli

View just above Canelli

 

“For a long time we had talked of the hill as we might have talked of the sea or the woods. I used to go back there in the evening from the city when it grew dusk, and for me it was not just another place but a point of view, a way of life. For instance, I saw no difference between those hills and these ancient ones where I played as a child and where I live now: the same broken, straggling country, cultivated and wild, the same roads, farmhouses, and ravines. I used to climb up there in the evening as if I too were fleeing the nightly shock of the air-raid alarms.”

– Cesare Pavese, La casa in collina (The house on the hill)

Langhe

Langhe

Alba today is a happy place to be, involved in making and producing great local food with the motto “slow food”.

Alba street market

Chestnut cheese

Goodies

Goodies

Alba goodies

Chicken & Truffles

Alba reminded me of Johnny the Partisan, written by Beppe Fenoglio. Johnny, a simple student passionate about English Literature, reminded me of my grandfather and of my friends and relatives’ grandfathers who fought for freedom. It’s everybody’s story in Italy to be connected with places and history as much as to feel a moral responsibility to remember it.

In the book there is the moment of acknowledge when the protagonist realises he is going to die to win his personal battle and there:

E pensò che forse un partigiano sarebbe stato come lui ritto sull’ultima collina, guardando la città e pensando lo stesso di lui e della sua notizia, la sera del giorno della sua morte. Ecco l’importante: che ne restasse sempre uno. Scattò il capo e acuì lo sguardo come a vedere più lontano e più profondo, la brama della città e la ripugnanza delle colline l’afferrarono insieme e insieme lo squassarono, ma era come radicato per i piedi alle colline. – I’ll go on to the end. I’ll never give up.

(He thought that maybe another partisan would have stood up right at the top of the last hill, like him right now, to watch the city and think about him and the evening news of his death. There it is, the most important thing: one partisan must always stay alive. He lifted up the head and squeezed his eyes to watch more distant, more in depth,  and both the longing for the city and the loathing for the hills took him and shook him but he was like deep-rooted by the feet to the hills – I’ll go on to the end. I’ll never give up.)

– Beppe Fenoglio, Il Partigiano Johnny (Johnny the Partisan)

Langhe

Ciao Johnny, ciao.

Mantova

And when I was about to start writing the greatest post of my entire existence, I stumbled.

Yes, I was about to tell briefly about the past grandeur of Mantua, the city born on a swampland, raised by fame and Family Gonzaga to a pearl for arts and architecture…

Then yeah I was about to progress in the post with the visit of the main buildings-museums, totes superb..

I was certainly all-in to talk about the immense work in progress around the castle and palace, the cranes, the sadness to hear it’s still because of the earthquake’s damages in 2012..

Yes, I was also adding the general mood of the city centre, the porches, the stones, the vivid colours on the walls. Not by any chance I would have missed to mention the human-sized streets, so personal and full of personality…

I was for sure bragging about the serene ownership of the streets by old men with a lovely accent. Or about delicious food…

I think at the end I would have been also able to put a chapter about locals claiming to win a prize for most humid city – by the way the crown for funniest sentence goes to ” There is too much humidity here ( x Ntimes). And we have lots of porks around here” I found it a sublime supplement-.

But I saw the pictures and they are awful to explain, to accomplish my urge to show off Mantova. Damn. I tagged only one image as ‘enough good’ and here there is:

porches

What now? In an escalation of feelings, swinging from demolished pride to childish sadness I am going to show you the personal disaster, a.k.a. the class “How not to take a picture 1.0”. Enjoy the circus:

view

The Blurry One

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The Sloping One

The Sad One

The Sad One

The Dammit Stay Still Not Happening One

The Dammit Stay Still Not Happening One

The Underexposing One

The Underexposing One

I’d love to blame something else, but the reason is simple: for the first time after a year travelling solo I had someone along. Shame I totally neglected the quality of the images, I was seriously on a mission to fill the gap created by 3 hideous years without unexplainably seeing the person next to me. Let’s call it a draw, shall we?

I moved around the town and I saw its shape and colours, but I don’t think I completely understood it. I wasn’t struck by lightning,  mostly the opposite, I found it familiar. I must admit I have something I might call thirst of romance with new cities, where my biggest natural dream is to madly fall in love with the surroundings, find spots and take striking pictures and develops new brilliant thoughts but I was so distracted by just walking and generally being happy with the Mister. Maybe it was the weather, more certain an excuse to go back another time.

This guy often ends with a  “Who knows?…”. I do, I do.

P.S. I don’t really understand why the “Anarchical Cycling” hates me, but I guess they are right.

Anarchical Cycling

Fall in Venice

Venezia. Venice. Venedig. Venecia, البندقية, 威尼斯, ヴェネツィア. Or the best one, in original dialect: Venessia.

Venice

A typical day in Fall

 

One of the most used and abused city in the world, top destination for tourists, pigeons and seagulls, even dog poo organises strategic tours there. Seriously, what to add about Venezia that somebody else hasn’t brilliantly already said? But -imho- I think I have it.

Ladies and Gents let me introduce you to a person who actually lived there: me.

#Fact: I am a former resident in Venice.

#Fact: There is a way to live and avoid the mass of tourists and enjoy the city as well.

#Fact: Venice is a pure pain in the ass to live in, but when the sun shines it’s the most compelling place to be. Yes, Venezia is as difficult as wonderful.

#Fact: I lived in Cannaregio and in the end loved it.

Cannaregio is the neighbourhood up North-East, facing the land of sea before Italy starts. It develops in length, through 3 wide streets and when just the first one is being walked by tourism, the other two are populated by shops, local restaurants, churches and friendly cats.

Venice cannaregio

madonna degli orti

Cannaregio

The Jewish Ghetto is the most famous spot and its square is generous in space, letting kids and dogs to stroll around and play.

Venice cannaregio

Venice cannaregio

Write this down: I have favourite places around the island, but the bridge facing Cannaregio’s harbour in Corte Vecchia has one of the most romantic and quiet aura.

Venice cannaregio

Venice cannaregio harbour

Quicken up because of a train to catch I soaked in a sea of fog and hit&run we-are-all-professional-photographers tourists in San Marco Area. I hope this is not the only Venezia they will experience.

tourist and palazzo ducale

Leftovers:

cannaregio bridge ghetto

venice hospital

breakfast

Castello

View from San Marco

Berlin Festival of Lights

It is delightful to enjoy my city in the dark thanks to this festival, running for 10 days in October every year. The buildings and monuments get a new shape, thanks to fantastic, recreational lights that tell a story, a music, facts and events connected to the city.

This year, like last year, shame that the city centre and Unter den Linden were still sacrificed and closed due to the construction of a new underground line but I found incredible the show at Posdamer Platz.

I leave you a generous amount of pictures (WordPress quality permitting) to judge yourselves.

 

Gendarmenmarkt

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Alexanderplatz

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Berliner Dom

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Brandenburger Tor (and its Microsoft-ish Powerpoint-ish show in a sea of admiring tourists)

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U.S. Embassy

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Potsdamer Platz – Yay Pop Art!

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See you soon..

Macau

You know, it’s like Macau in May.

A text, right after another one, beeped. I imagine the classic ‘Welcome to Macau! Make a call for billions/min and receive a call for other billions/min.” The standard text you really don’t want to get, because it’s always better you don’t know.

Only this text says “Hey darlin’, welcome in da house! Casino Golden A-hole is waiting for you with a free cocktail after the first 5 slot machines you will use”. My general feedback? what the beeeeep. How did they get my number? Where the hell I am? And this is just the beginning of disbelief.

We took a taxi. LOL, it was a rickshaw. Traffic, smog, casinos and us cycling to the city center, in a constant mix of excitement and fear. Our chaperon, still unknown which language he was talking, or how he managed to spare our lives from the homicidal run through cars and bus.

Rickshaw

Still shaking, the major square is wonderful, it’s Portugal all over it. The pastel walls, the stones on the ground and catholic churches and shops with pastels de nata..tears on my eyes. The flood of people brings you to the famous facade, ruins of a cathedral.

Facade

The following 45 minutes are a hideaway of misplaced stupid actions! Who knew it’s pretty easy to smoke with chopsticks and to jump around mangroves? It’s May, it’s +30 degrees, it’s 99,9% humidity, it’s Macau.

We visit the fortress, at 1pm with some other tourist in desperate need of water, and from the roof we see glory and misery of this heartrending city. My camera lense along with my eyes fight the hot steam. Are we all crying in front of this fascinating decadent view? I reckon I have never seen richness and misery so melted in one another.

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Back to the humans, it’s time to take a deviation from the main street and find the most bad-ass buddist temple. Ace.

Time to fall in love with it that we visit the last point on the map, a lovely christian colony.

Macau in May is so tiring but intense that we forged a neologism “Like Macau in May” … suor e saudade, sweat and melancholy. Are we dead yet? We don’t know, but we are satisfied with everything we just survived. On the boat again, another travel is awaiting.

Please visit an extended selection of the picture I took in Macau on my Flickr page, just click here!

Dresden

I don’t have a bucket list.

I have things I want to do and see, but I tend to keep myself pretty open to what can come by accident and fate, so I have never been keen on pointing out on paper my desires. Desires changes, like your favourite song or city. Or better to me, desires duplicate, multiply, and sometimes you forget some of them for a while too. I prefer this state of mind, where I embrace everything I want, remember and look up for new stuff, so to keep my soul always on the chase.

selfieCheeky Selfie in the sun & wind

I went to visit Dresden on a quiet Sunday this early Fall. It has a very sizeable city centre and it’s possible to enjoy the trip in a day. I really adored the possibility to stroll along the river, to enjoy a piece of quiet on the city Brühl Terrace, to mingle with the people on the tables outside the restaurant.. There was a general atmosphere of lively joy thanks to Oktoberfest celebrations and Autumn street market, so the surroundings were simply lovely.

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When I was visiting the Gemäldegalerie in the afternoon, for my surprise, I was projected back 10 years at University.

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During my first year I took lots of classes, all art-related. I spent one entire month studying a “Camerino delle Pitture’, a room designed for the eye’s pleasures of the owner. To be specific, I studied Alfonso I d’Este’s Camerino and its five paintings, now around the world. I usually pay a visit to the National Gallery when in London just to have 10 minutes with the superb Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne that literally takes my breath away every time I see it, moreover its Ekphrasis (key-word in modern art, here’s the wiki page in case you’re new to it’s meaning in Renaissance Art) . That Camerino and its paintings were a triumph of glory, technics and meaning. It was a well paid investment for mind and body. You cannot imagine the utter emotion when I saw one of the paintings once in the Camerino on the wall of the museum. I forgot it was there and I must admit I felt so, so good just watching at it. Arts give you something more in your ordinary life and I am thankful every day to have chosen cultural studies as Bachelor, even if now this crisis have lead to mistakenly forget about it in favour of more effective by short-term solutions or jobs or interests. There in a room full of strangers and other paintings, I felt the fire in my veins again like -to steal Bloc Party’s lyrics-“a silent smile, a private kind of happiness”. After the visit, I didn’t celebrate with wine as Bacchus would suggest, but the smile stayed upon my face quite a long time.

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I hope you liked my story about the Gemäldegalerie…. If not, I leave you also this short view from the city of Dresden, Sachsen, Germany I recorded. Bis bald.

P.S. If I have some comments or many likes I might add more lovely picture of the city…Just let me know!