An overcast sky, a crowded Pincio Terrace, Piazza del Popolo and the area behind the Pincio Terrace taken over by football, only the occasional glimpse of what I had in mind to photograph… it didn’t look promising at all.
But Antonella is a firm believer in dealing with whatever the situation offers, looking at it with different eyes, turning it into something.
My something was the Moses Fountain, depicting the moment when the mother of Moses places her baby son in a basket among the reeds in the Nile, in her desperate move to save him from the Pharaoh’s death sentence on all the first-born male children of the Israelites.
I had never paid attention to this Fountain before, had never even noticed the baby part-hidden by the foliage, and wasn’t aware of the name of the fountain.
Now it will be difficult to come to this place again and not think of the countless, desperate journeys across river, land and sea in which so many children and adults, unlike Moses, had their lives cut short.
I’ve passed it a thousand times and didn’t know its name: Villa Leopardi Dittajuti, or, as most people call it, Villa Leopardi. Nothing to do with the poet Giacomo Leopardi, though Isabella tells me Count Leopardi Dittajuti, who had the mansion built in the late 19th century, was a distant relative of the poet.
The Amici di Villa Leopardi have kept themselves busy, erecting tombstone-like monuments to the hard work they have carried out making the garden hospitable, though Isabella’s report on the little-known catacombs beneath us had me wondering about their muse.
Like the catacombs, the mansion is unfrequented these day. Probably awaiting restoration. Any indoor activities around here take place in the local library and centro anziani, which are also housed within the grounds.
For most of the people here these days, Villa Leopardi is the park rather than the mansion, and there does seem to be plenty of variety: places to sit, to picnic, to walk prams and wheelchairs, a space for children to play, even a dedicated speaker’s platform… or a place where speakers are cornered, it’s not entirely clear.
So, something for everyone.
For me, it was the flowers, the leaves, the plants. After so much time spent indoors over the past year, and especially the quarantines of the past winter, just being immersed in the season’s lusciousness and heady scents was exhilarating, something I would have liked to be able to recreate in the photo edits.
Peering through my macro lens, I watched insects gather goodies from even the smallest daisies.
Then out of nowhere came three colourful, exotic birds.
The darkness of winter was definitely over.
Nothing is ever what it first seems.
In September, after the long, hot summer, life in Rome supposedly returns to its usual work/school routine, doctor’s appointments and whatnot. La ripresa. Not that anyone is really going back to what was before.
La ripresa could also refer to an economic upturn. Again, dubious.
Today’s photography theme was la ripresa, working around the stalls in Campo de’ Fiori, which was hardly bustling.
At least in one sense it was a ripresa: my own personal one of going around the city with my camera again, for the first time in months. I felt a bit rusty, not unlike the wrinkled tomatoes with a touch of mould in the basket in front of an empty restaurant.
In the background, the fairies were doing their best to keep up appearances.
Some restaurants had a more sombre look, perhaps hoping their good name would bring their customers back.
Every little corner in this area has a rich history, and hidden treasures.
Down at the other end of Camp de’ Fiori, off the via del Pellegrino, is the picturesque Arco degli Acetari, with one of the most photographed courtyards in Rome.
Although the waiters’ and salespeople’s masks made their words mostly inaudible to me, they seemed very keen to get the ripresa going. It’s not that I’m difficult to please, but I’d already done my fruit & veg shopping, don’t enjoy the taste of pomegranate juice, was not tempted by the menù veloce. If it had been evening, and one of the comfy and spacious front row seats available, I might have stopped here for a prosecco, for old times’ sake.
As it was, after 3 hours, 2 coffees and a few short conversations with a dozen or so strangers, I was already exhausted – a fairly typical side effect of the September ripresa.
It felt like nighttime already. I followed the pink flamingo’s example, donned my mask and headed for home in the rain.
Lucca was lovely. A short walk to our B&B around the corner from the amphitheatre and we were ready to have a wander through the town within the walls. Concerts, exhibitions, eating and drinking places galore… this tiny town seemed to have more than enough for our short stop here.
We turned another corner… bubbles everywhere.
The pied bubble maker of Lucca was at work…
calling the children to play…
The next day the area was deserted and the children gone, as were the pied bubble maker and his bubbles, leaving grey sudsy slabs and greenish puddles behind.
After the day’s walkabout, a stroll around the tower area in the evening was the most likely choice, even if it meant coping with crowds. But as it turned out, not noticing them was easier than I’d hoped.
We had plumped for a morning walk, but the tower area was teeming with tourists. The city walls seeming like a decent alternative.
On that quiet and sunny autumn morning, we came upon 3 or 4 other people in as many hours, and ended up in a still and silent residential district.
A tiny sample of views to be had:
And my favourite autumn image so far this year:
I got soaked this afternoon.
Then there was just a slight breeze.
I saw the clouds gathering again.
Never a dull moment.
A wet summer Sunday is as good a day as any for a walk in the Botanic Gardens, which this year celebrates its 200th birthday. Today I noticed something I hadn’t spotted before: the city’s motto Let Glasgow Flourish and its Coat of Arms sculpted into the wall of a building just inside the Gt Western Road/Byres Road entrance, complete with the tree that never grew, the fish that never swam, the bird that never flew and the bell that never rang.
For the story behind the City of Glasgow’s Coat of Arms, see here.
I had to go and get some keys cut up at Anniesland, but the hint of rain had made the air so fresh that I took the waterproofs and set off for a four-hour walk through Glasgow’s West End.
And sure enough, by the time I’d come out of the hardware shop, the drizzle was on. I braved it for a few minutes but finally stopped to take shelter under some trees and don the waterproofs. It occurred to me that I’d passed this pond so often along Great Western Road, but had never taken a closer look.
On my way back were the colourful scenes at the front of tenement blocks.
No walk though the West End is complete without a stopover at Hargan’s Dairy. Re-exposed to the elements for almost a decade now, the 1960s lettering is peeling fast.
All work and little play these days. No much time to linger looking for inspiring landscapes. Still, a short walk, a few shots and back is better than no walk at all.
My last morning here for a while 😦
Architectural photography’s not really my thing – in more suitable hands I’m sure much could be done with the play of light and shade on the structure of the bridge itself. But Edinburgh’s Forth Rail Bridge is so eye-catching that’s it difficult to avoid trying a shot or two. Not calling it iconic – that is such an over-used word nowadays.
First of all, thanks for taking the time to write. The emptiness you feel in my landscape images doesn’t surprise me. Like many landscape photographers, I love to get out of the city, also to avoid being bombarded by advertising, deafened and choked by the traffic, pushed and shoved by the crowds. Far from the city, our surroundings may come across as empty and unsettling just because we are so used to being bombarded, deafened, choked and shoved.
It’s also true that I see the peace and beauty of the natural environment as co-existing with its unsettling, terrifying, overwhelming and harrowing side, although I’m not the first nor will I be the last to see nature this way.
Some landscape photographers say they aim to express in their images the emotions felt at the time. In my case, more often than not, I’m cursing the elements (in jest), sliding around on ice or in mud (giggling, or maybe not), moaning about the wind as I grip my tripod (desperately), struggling to remain patient enough to get the shot I’m after, or any shot for that matter. Frustration and the freezing cold are both part of the fun though, and the cold, brisk air of my favourite sorts of landscape spots and times is always energising. But looking back at the landscape images on my blog, it strikes me that many do seem to contain an idea of controlling the environment rather than letting it be. Something for me to mull over for future projects.
I’m also relieved to see that you find some reassurance in my photographs too. Thankfully, they are not only bleak beauty prodding at tortured souls.
What you say about the title of my blog is interesting. I’m still thinking about that.
In these “darkest years” you’re going through, I do hope you have or are able to find people around you to support you. If you have an artistic outlet of your own, I also hope you can focus on that, and if you don’t currently work on any artistic endeavour, well maybe it’s time to go beyond looking at other people’s photographs through the night and start creating your own.
Thank you again for the compliments and for all your observations. They have given me plenty of food for thought.
A few hours around Oslo’s parks and waterfront and you find yourself surrounded by sculptures of women, sitting, standing, often with babies, often naked.
New to me was She Lies, a glass and steel iceberg-looking sculpture afloat in the fiord on the Oslo waterfront near the Opera House. This time a sculpture created by a woman, Monica Bonvicini.
I wonder if there are, somewhere in this city, sculptures of women and men pushing prams.
My walk in Frogner Park was cut short because I didn’t think to bring my spikes. Big mistake! But here are a few images of the park and some of the Vigeland sculptures it is famous for.
“Gradually easing winds will make it feel less raw”, said the weather forecaster.
Do not underestimate the wind chill factor: 10°C feels like -10°C, especially with cold seawater running over your wellies.