The Palermo Affair…

As I self-describe myself, I’m a Nordic creature. I am very used, and much in love, with the peace given by following the rules, getting all tucked up in layers, and being surrounded by green and blu sceneries, especially if gifted, from time to time, by white snowflakes.

I know, I sound like a broken record and every time I travel south I start blabbering about it, but desert somehow makes me uncomfortable. I have, anyhow, found the perfect balance when I travel during autumn and winter time to southern locations, such as I did with Palermo.

It turned out to be a delightful weekend, marked in my memories to come “The Palermo Affair”.

So much to tell. First, people are vocal, loud and generally happier than the people I met in northern Italy. How come, since the city is, in fact, a tropical mess? The walks ups and downs the city center made me believe that it’s a mix of factors, such as the sun – less aggressive this time of the year – and the food that make the difference.

Hey, it’s for sure not roses and unicorns, lots of houses and streets are just broken and decadent, you can tell the majority doesn’t live a pretty rich life, and some parts leaves you with a sense of unsafeness, but for some aspects, it looked a nice place to spend holiday, maybe also to live for a bit.

Second thing, the landing was in one of the most impressive set ever, between a mountain and the sea. So peculiar, so lovely.

Another thing I noticed was the unusually high number of shops for male clothing, that you can combine with the fact that men are quite attentive – and again vocal -to women, you get the idea that Sicily is still pretty much a male-based community… I can hear Trump cheering.

On the bad note, I spoke with some of them, especially at the restaurants where I had incredibly-good-but-overpriced fresh fish, and they all told me I do not look Italian. So they were applying the price for foreigners.

Anyhow, I spent two days roaming around the streets, visiting the x wonderful baroque churches, visiting the street markets, eating yummy fish and soaking up under the sun at the harbour. It was a positive getaway weekend, indeed.

Remember me to go more often to a seaside city. The sea is food for soul.

1

3

4

5

6

10

12

13

15

Advertisements

A photo session in Turin

Turin is the first big Italian city coming from West.

I came from East, from the soulless, business-oriented region of Milan. The good thing to reach from one city to the other is to see the continuous groups of rice fields between them, separating their distant personalities. The trip gets a bit cathartic, like a silent, natural cleansing of your mind.

P1050287.JPG

Looking outside the window

Turin was the first capital in Italy, the first in many things. Was. Somewhere roaming around you can still feel it, in some other parts it still holds the crown of being the capital of local, even of lost.

P1050254

I remember my first time in Turin, maybe 15 years ago. I found it sad and kinda empty. I’ve changed my mind during the years… Turin has had a sort of newborn vitality, all around events, museums and arts. There’s one thing I’ve always loved loads of Turin though: la Mole.

For me, one of the most magical building men could ever create.

Perfection, anthropology and mythology together.

 

Well, I was in Turin for a reason: to learn about an artist. What I learnt from that day was much more, especially from his sons’ eyes and story telling. And while I was listening to them, I started remembering little things. The dynamics of a family, the smell of an Italian house, a wall by no reason left white, but filled with paintings, the little gardens with wild flowers, kids eating gelato, couples looking at the shop windows on a Saturday afternoon. Everything frankly so much more than my lonely life.

That day I also tried to switch camera, and left my beloved Titty to my friend. The pictures along this posts are actually his. Enjoy.

P1050239

P1050244

P1050255

P1050261

P1050258

One subtitled heretic movie in the afternoon

I studied arts during uni, but not the kind of talented arts you’re thinking. I am no artist, but I liked and still do history and words and knowledge, so when it was time to pick classes, I took an Arts and Media direction. During the course of three years I studied many interesting things, I still remember a three month immersion in the world of jazz music for example, but I also found out during that time that for living I could watch every movie possible, every one I wanted, with no limitation. I actually found out there that most of the times the limitations that I thought I had were coming from the inside, from myself.

For the first time I saw that the potential was infinite, if the willing would have started from me.

So I watched as many movies as possible, and at least twice per week, I used to skip class and head to the cinema for the first screenings, at 3 or 4pm, with a very cheap student ticket. There are few people going to the cinema so early, especially in a relatively small city in Italy. I remember the pleasure of having an entire room and screening by myself, changing seat whenever I felt to. It was inebriating. I remember also when I watched Brokeback Mountain, until the last second I thought I was alone in an empty cinema. Then two aged ladies came in. For my surprise one of them was blind. You can imagine how the screening went. From drama the movie turned in kind of comedy, at times into a boring voiced-off documentary. Every scene, every action was carefully explained with a slow, loud voice to the blind lady by her trusty friend. The blind lady conveniently answered every description with a comment, because of course people, opinions matter. I believe they had no idea what the movie was about, because I hardly hold myself to not burst in laughters when the two protagonists started getting closer and closer. The talking lady at a certain point described a scene in the tent as “they are starting doing impure stuff”, with the other one “ oh no, oh no, that’s disgraceful”. That was the best moment of the movie indeed, from my seat and liberal point of view. Those two catholic ladies made my day, in a certain way. I watched a movie tonight and the last song on the soundtrack reminded me of that verbally-subtitled Brokeback Mountain’s movie. I hope I cracked a smile with this story. Go listen to the song, think of the infinite possibilities and potential you can get from this strange life and from yourself. And listen to the song here below.

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.

DSCN4967

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.

DSCN4993

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

DSCN5016

– 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

piazza

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