Italy

Rome: la ripresa

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. 

the ripresa season’s imperfect greetings

In the background, the fairies were doing their best to keep up appearances.

Campo de’ Fiori fairy lights in the daytime

Some restaurants had a more sombre look, perhaps hoping their good name would bring their customers back.

Fortunata? (Lucky?)

Every little corner in this area has a rich history, and hidden treasures.

writing on the wall at Piazza del Biscione

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.

courtyard, Arco degli Acetari
doorway, Arco degli Acetari
a local resident, Arci degli Acetari courtyard

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.

menù veloce – fond memories of prosecco evenings

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 swan’s example, donned my mask and headed for home in the rain.

wear your mask


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Bubble rapt

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.

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The pied bubble maker of Lucca was at work…

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calling the children to play…

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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.

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A night in Pisa

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.

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back across the Arno to our hotel

 


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Pisa walkabout

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:

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The leaning trees of Pisa

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And my favourite autumn image so far this year:

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Last evening in Portovenere

As the sun was going down and warming up the rocks below St Peter’s Church, I wondered what that huge tanker had been doing there all day, and would it ever leave.

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Then suddenly it slid out of view, only to return a few moments later.

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My last evening at Portovenere. I will be back, once the tourist season has quietened down.

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Byron’s swimming pool

Well, one of them 😉. Byron’s (now collapsed) Grotto lies beneath this stone framed window that overlooks the Bay of Poets. Certainly peaceful shortly after 6 am in early June, but no doubt thronging with sunbathers and boats as the day grew hotter.

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Daylight in Portovenere

By now the sun had well and truly risen. After days of non-stop sunshine and intense blue skies, a different light appeared.

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I waited and waited

For days not a cloud in sight, but when I went out early on my first morning in Portovenere, the weather looked set to change. Would those clouds drop and block the early morning sun?
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The boats bobbing up and down in the foreground, constantly changing position, were mesmerising.

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I waited in the morning silence for the lights to go off and for the sun to come up over the horizon behind me and light up the palazzata a mare. Not a soul in sight.

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Gradually the light and sky changed.

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But it was clear that on this particular morning, the sun was not going to tinge the buildings with its early morning light, as the clouds had dropped behind me.

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Worth the wait nonetheless.


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Early morning blues

Up at 4.30, to wait for the early morning sun to light up the palazzata a mare in Portovenere. Far too early, considering that dawn was still an hour away, and the palazzata a couple of minutes’ walk.  But the peace and quiet that comes with those early morning blues is unmissable 😉

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Evening colours

In the village, the main street

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The tall coloured buildings along the seafront, the palazzata a mare:

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The Bay of Poets

Looking across the Bay at St Peter’s Church from a spot not far from the Castle, I found it easy  in the summer heat to imagine Byron swimming here. It was harder to visualise the sudden storm here in which Shelley is said to have drowned.

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Keeping cool in Portovenere

It’s not all that difficult – there are nooks and crannies where you can shelter from the scorching sun without having to cram into the shade of a bar along with the beer-drinking crowds.

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Evening glow

The blue (and pink) hour. Thankfully cool at last.

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I will be back

I hadn’t planned to shoot a series of postcards 😩, but that’s pretty much how things turned out in the first days of my first visit ever to Cinque Terre and Portovenere.

But once the tourists and the heat have subsided, I will be back, and I will enjoy the cool and peaceful dawns, the sea breeze, and have time to seek out a few less clichéd and crowded corners of this beautiful part of Italy.

A word to photographers: go on your own, or with 1 or 2 like-minded spirits. It’s so easy to get around – just be prepared for a fair bit of walking up and down stairs and hillside paths 😉

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Windows in the afternoon sun

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Instead of cooling off in the shade, we went trudging around in the afternoon heat. No wonder shuttered windows look so appealing in the summer sun.


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5 lands in 5 days

Another attractive seaside village, although not exactly far from the maddening crowds, given the season and the weather. Here and there, vying for tripod or selfie space at the blue hour goes with the terrain.

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Mount Etna

A few hours before quite a large eruption.

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Mount Etna


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Smoke signals

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Mount Etna, Sicily


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Catania wakes up

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Morning splash

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Aci Trezza morning

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Etna smokes at dawn

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Another morning down at Cyclops Beach

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Birch sunrise

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