Sunday, 18 January 2015

Misty Misty Mantua

Sunday was promising. We got up early. We had a quick breakfast and jumped in the car. The sun was shining.

Then we hit the autostrada and around Bergamo it started to get foggy, then a bit foggier and then some more. But it was too late. We had already booked our restaurant in Mantova and the tortelli di zucca (pumpkin ravioli) were calling to us.

True Padana Driving - 50km/h max!

It was slow going but before we knew it we were already at the car park. No sign of the city's outskirts in this fog. We crossed the lakes on foot having hoped to see Mantua's famous skyline, but obviously it was a white-out so we admired it via google images on A's phone!

First Glimpse of Mantova

Piazza Ducale
We had a second breakfast in what appeared to be Piazza Ducale.Then we wondered around. It was very cold. Very very cold. The town is very very pretty though. It's like a mini Florence - everything renaissance! The co-cathedral was really something (sadly, photos not allowed).

The garden in Palazzo Ducale

Shopping in Mantua

After an hour and a half we were thoroughly chilled so we headed to our trattoria. Eating pumpkin ravioli in Mantua was one of the things on my list that I want to do by the time I'm 30 (If you were wondering - yes they are all rather achievable). They didn't disappoint. The wine was also very tasty. I love fizzy reds.

Very happy with my pasta
After having been all toasty inside outside felt even colder. So we went to Palazzo Te, built by one of the dukes of Mantova. Mantova/Mantua was once a regional capital hence the stunning architectural legacy) The rooms are pretty much all empty, but it took us over 90 mins to see it as it is rather impressively decorated. Imagine how an incredibly rich 15 year old boy who loves war, sex and giants might decorate his house and you're pretty much there. My favourite room was the horse room, obviously. A's was the lifesize giants room.

Palazzo Te (slightly NSFW!)
 When we came out the chill wind had been lifting the fog and we had to march very fast back to the other side of the lakes to take the photos I wanted before the sun went down. Luckily A is used to this and is very cooperative.

An Italian Scene

Skyline of Mantua

Across the lake.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Turin from on High

Boxing day was a beautiful day. Actually, so was Christmas, but we were too busy eating to notice. We were supposed to be meeting up with our friend Marco but he was too busy sleeping off his partying, so we headed out for a long walk through the woods behind the castle of Rivoli.

From the Castello di Rivoli

It was a great day for looking at Turin. It was fairly clear, the pollution was low, we could even see the hills on the other side of the city. Turin sits in a mountainous cradle which means it has some of the worst air in Italy, but the peaks surrounding it make for a very atmospheric backdrop.

Follow Corso Francia (one of the longest streets in Europe) from Rivoli to the Superga (the tiny dot on the hill)
Then Marco came in a hurry to meet us on our way home. I think he was feeling bad about the partying but what are true friends for if you can't occasionally stand them up without fear of offence?! We decided it would be cool to hang out some more, but where? Then he suggested the Superga, and I didn't know what it was, but when I realised it was that church on the hill I've been admiring from afar for years I was very excited.

A then had to embarrassedly admit he is probably the only Turinese adult to have never been there and so we knew definitely had to go. 

We went for sunset and it was well worth it. There were a lot of people up there with the same idea, but since there is a lot of viewing space it didn't feel too cramped.

La Superga in the sun.
We walked around the church and saw the commemoration to the airplane crash on the hill of Turin's other football team. Sadly it killed most of the team and Il Toro have never been as strong again.

Then we watched some wild boar until some idiots threw some nuts for them AT them and they ran away into the dark.
Sunset over Monviso
 Then we went inside the church to have a look around and light a candle. They had a gorgeous crib complete with starry skies.

Crib Scene

Prayer Candles
 When we came out it had got dark and very very cold. But if anything the view was even more lovely.

Turin from on High

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Three exhibitions and Winter tones

A few more snaps... I've been practicing the art of muted colours and tones. Putting my new processing skills into practice and drawing inspiration from a lot of Russian photographers online who do a sort of modern vintage very well.

I've also been to a three photography exhibitions recently which have been very inspiring. The best was the Salgado exhibition at the Palazzo della Ragione (over now sadly). His black and white images are so TEXTURED and his composition is to die for. Nevermind the subjects, he knows how to photograph the wild that's for sure. A got me his book Genesis for Christmas and it had everyone ooh-ing and ah-ing.

Then I went to see the Bonatti exhibition in the same place (still on - just started!) which is a collection of photographs by the renowned late climber, explorer and writer Walter Bonatti. He really was the king of the adventure selfie!

 Then finally, we went to see The Cal, the exhibition of the Pirelli Calendar. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have more of Steve McCurry and Carl Lagerfeld's editions but it was interesting all the same to see how some of the world's best photographers can take the same starting point (beautiful girls and tires!) and arrive at very different conclusions. Steve, we're on first name terms these days, still retains the crown of 'Best Pirelli Calendar' for me all the same.

The wierd thing was the lack of male visitors at the exhibition. Noted for its girls I had assumed that there would be more men than women doing the rounds - how wrong I was. Could it be that the Milanese men are worried people will think they're a bunch of dirty geezers if they go to see it?! A was the only one (although safely accompanied by his wife of course).

Anyway here's what came of it all...

In love with this picture - I think because the effect here is closest to my original vision.

My obliging Muse - I wanted to keep her green eyes but was afraid it would just look tacky

Once A was put on the spot and asked who was a better photographer  - me or his best friend Marco. Hesitatingly, and diplomatically, (and dare I say honestly?) he said that Marco is better at taking pictures of mountains and I am better at taking pictures of leaves. It can't have been an easy spot to get out of since we do take pictures of the same kinds of stuff but I did feel a little bit miffed.

Leaves?! Boring old leaves!

However, the truth is that I take an awful lot of leaf pictures so maybe I should just embrace the leaf niche after all?

Hmm. Probably won't be giving up the day job just yet.