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A NEW WAY OF SEEING - A PHOTOGRAPHY RETREAT FOR WOMEN, IN GENOA, ITALY, 2014

Imagine being one of a small group of women who meet up in a country not their own.  Each intent on making a similar journey into the world of photography.   In Italy …exploring the light and the layers of a city created over 2,000 years while experiencing that particular Genoese way of being.

Come join me on a journey of discovery in an exquisitely ancient Italian city.

'Visit' Genova via Stefano's RIGHICAM.

 

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Friday
Jul252014

I Am Missing That City, Its People ...

Coffee at Douce in Piazza Matteotti, Genova.

Or perhaps I am generally missing good coffee.  Even the highway autogrills do good coffee in Italy.

I am missing green beans, lightly cooked.  Tomatoes from Il Bio di Soziglia.  And adding the best riccotta from Le Gramole Olioteca to that mix.  Missing Francesca and Norma too.

Then I miss the possibility of eating Ravioli fatti in casa al “tuccu” di carne at Roberto's place, Il Genovese because Tuccu is the most divine sauce ever invented ... any place here on this earth.

I miss Stefano's restaurant because there are always stunning surprises in store when you eat and drink there. 

I miss the possibility of hearing Donatella singing and Luciano play there.  I am learning to miss Donatella's fried squash flowers too.  They were divine that night she took Helen and I home and cooked for us.  

I miss Barbara and Alessandra.  I most definitely miss Stefano.  I miss Lorenzo

I miss the 'ciao's' that I hear in the street.  I miss Pino & Silvana, and their divine pizzas.

I miss Boccadasse and my seat up on the hill, I miss Outi, Paula and Paola.  There is Davide, Federico, and Leah, and so many others. 

I'm thinking now  ... perhaps it all adds up to the fact that I'm simply missing Genova. And forgive me if your name isn't here because I'm sure to be missing you too  :-)

Yes.

Below, a photograph of Luciano playing bass guitar (really, he is), taken at a performance he and Donatella gave recently.

Friday
Jul252014

Mourid Barghouti, Poet & Writer ... an Extraordinary Soul

She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where the paths are crowded with people running to their r
ooms
And where the beds in the morning are chaos
And the pillows wake up crumpled,
Their cotton stuffing dipping in the middle.
She wants the washing lines full and much, much rice to cook for lunch
And a large, large kettle boiling on the fire in the afternoon
And the table for everyone in the evening, its tablecloth dripping with the sesame of chatter.
She wants the smell of garlic at noon to gather the absent ones
And is surprised that the mother's stew is weaker than the power of governments and that her pastry in the evening
Dries on a sheet untouched by any hand.
Can the earth contain
The cruelty of a mother making her coffee alone
On a Diaspora morning?
She wants to go to a planet away from the earth
Where all directions lead to the harbour of the bosom,
The gulf of two arms
That receive and know no farewells.
She wants airplanes to come back only.
Airports to be for those returning,
The planes to land and never leave again
.

A poem about the mother of exiled Palestinian poet, Mourid Barghouti.

His book is one of the most beautifully written I've read

Friday
Jul252014

Home Again ...

I arrived home late Wednesday night ... exhausted. 

Like so many of the other days, on this particular journey, Wednesday was a huge day.   It was a day where my lost ID card was handed back to me at Milan Airport.  I had been holding my breath a little as I reached check-in.  I had the police report tucked away in my camera bag and my driver's licence, with the photograph to prove I was me, at the ready.

The lovely woman behind the counter saw my name and told me I had 'lost' that ID on the plane coming in and while it was strange that Brussels Airline didn't phone or email me using any of the personal details I have fed into their system so many times, I was grateful.  So grateful to see my ID card again.

I had had this feeling that it might turn up, somehow and as a result I hadn't followed the protocol of blocking my ID.  120euro was saved.  Helen and I did a small happy dance after leaving that counter.

So many beautiful things had been happening along the way however this seemed like a fairly serious slice of 'excellent'. 

Then ... my bankcard wouldn't allow me to withdraw the money I knew was in it, in Italy, but I could buy lunch using it directly.  So that was grand. 

We flew ... still working, making new plans for other New Way of Seeing workshops and arrived, after an hour and 15 minutes, in Brussels.  We made our way to the luggage claim area and began waiting.  Helen's suitcase arrived.  The clock ticked.  Soon it became clear I was going to miss my 'once on the hour, every hour' bus back to Antwerp. 

My suitcase never arrived.  I recognised 'the look' on the faces of others waiting there.  Their luggage hadn't arrived either.  But on asking, I learned they'd just come from Florence.  I was the only one missing my luggage from Milan.

I was tired and a little bit grouchy perhaps.  We walked the length of the luggage claim hall until we found the queue at the Brussels Airlines missing luggage office.  We were walking towards it when I noticed my bag, standing all alone in the middle of nowhere ...

I checked it for bombs and for drugs.  It seemed fine.  I imagine someone had taken my bag by accident and abandoned it there in the hall when they realised.  Thank goodness the police hadn't wondered about it. So we left.  Wondering whether it wasn't time to purchase some kind of lottery ticket.

I strolled over to the bankcard machine, wanting to access my money for a train ticket.  Helen had decided she wasn't leaving until she was sure I wouldn't be walking to Antwerp. 

My bankcard didn't work.  I was tired.  Disbelieving.  I knew I had money there.

Helen reminded me that my money had been accessible directly in Milan so, we wandered on down to the trains level of the airport.  Voila, I was able to use the card to purchase a ticket from the machine.  A big thank you to you, BNP Paribas Fortis, what was that all about?

Finally, an hour and a half after landing, I was on a train heading directly for Antwerp.  Windows down as we screamed our way through that hot summer's night.   Gert met me at the bottom of the stairs in the station. 

Note: why don't European train stations have escalators on every platform?  What wrong-headed thinking leaves travelers almost destroying themselves carrying luggage up and down them?  I pack as lightly as possible knowing this thing but it seems not very 'first world'. Belgium and Italy both fail in this respect and the men have long ago learned to look the other way when there's a women struggling up those stairs with her suitcase.  No one but no one wants to help anyone else with their luggage.  It has made me appreciate Kiwi blokes because I know they'd be there in a flash.  But never mind ... I can do it.  I pack lightly.

And so I am home.  Yesterday looked and felt remarkably like a road smash.  I had this idea that I've spent these past two weeks traveling at 100km p/h and that yesterday I hit the wall.  I did laundry, I cleaned the house, I shopped for supplies, I cooked ... falling on the bed in-between times or working here at my computer.

Never mind.  Whiny moment over, I'll leave you with a photograph I took back in Lezzeno in Italy.  I have so many stories to tell about the exquisite palazzo located on the edge of Lake Como.  That exquisite palazzo where Helen and I spent those last two nights in Italy.

Wednesday
Jul232014

Last Night Down By The Lake...

One of the more difficult things about traveling is the quality of the screen that I work with out here on the road.  It's difficult to view images ... difficult simply because I am used to a better quality of screen back at my desk.

I don't know that I've done justice to this image but I wanted to post it anyway.  Last night, after dinner at a restaurant that cooks the fish of Lake Como, in a whole range of styles, we wandered down by the lake below the stunning hotel where we are staying.

To write that this trip has been extraordinary would be stating the obvious.  Or telling you that we have met and spent time with so many good people ... also clear.  But more than that, the scenes that have unfolded in front of us, as we've searched out ways to make our joint photography workshops absolutely first class,  have been exceptional.

I was back at the lake edge this morning and a whole news series of scenes unfolded in front of me.  I'm going to miss this beautiful place tucked away in Italy's mountains.

Tuesday
Jul222014

The Power of Women...

A photograph taken on our last evening in Genova

'Last evening' this time.  And we wanted to say goodbye to some of the women we so enjoy knowing there in the city.

There was Donatella and Barbara, Alessandra, and Georgia too.  We met at Douce and we talked.  So much.  Enjoying the company of each other on a warm summer's evening in Liguria.

I could write much about what each woman means to us.  Of their generosity and their kindness, of their various talents but that would be too long a post and it might sound like someone exaggerating. Perhaps it's enough to write that they are special.

Anyway ...I suspect that this photograph, taken on Alessandra's phone, captures something of the spirit between us all.  Needless to say, I suspect it's clear in the photograph, I'm exhausted ... but oh so very happy with the days spent over in Genova.

Tuesday
Jul222014

You Know When That Bubble of Joy Rises Up In You?

That happened.

We moved from Genova to a most exquisite location on the edge of Lake Como.  It's only 8am but already my camera and I have been wandering.

I love New Zealand, I love Italy.  Lately, I haven't been sure which country I loved best.

Here, in Lezzeno, Italy becomes New Zealand and vice versa.  A lake, the mountains, the mist and the smell of the air ...

As for the food, I will try and write of it soon.  Dinner last night, on that balcony overlooking Lake Como ... exquisite.

Sunday
Jul202014

Water Polo, Boccadasse, Genova

In Genova, there is always something happening ... something extraordinary.

This time there was the International Music Festival, and there is a Robert Capa exhibition on too. One I wish I'd had time to visit.  But it's on until October, 2014.

Then last night, out at Boccadasse, I photographed this ...

That is how I experience Genova.  It's a city that is rarely 'ordinary'.

Sunday
Jul202014

B&B Terre Rosse, Portofino.

One day we were invited to lunch out at the beautiful B&B Terre Rosse, Portofino.  As they write, it's not your average B&B.  The setting is astounding.

But more than that, we were able to spend time with the truly lovely Leah.

There was Prossecco and the most delicious food, a view out over Portofino, in Italy.  What more could anyone want?

Sunday
Jul202014

Magnificent Days ...

We are on Day 2 of this first A New Way of Seeing photography workshop and all I can say is that feels like both an extraordinary privilege to meet and work with these women but it is a huge amount fun too.

I almost fell over due to laughing so hard last night.  Lisa, the Australian, was responsible.  Trans-Tasman relations are at all time high.  Meanwhile I have a few million photographs to download and so many stories to tell but really lacking the time to do.  We're off to Lake Como tomorrow ... stories should follow.

Day One of the weekend workshop ended on a restaurant balcony located at the edge of the Ligurian Sea, out at Boccadasse, eating exquisite food and well, yes ... laughing often.

We are a small united nations, with the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America involved. 

Now ... for Day Two.

Tuesday
Jul152014

Early Morning, Genova, Italy

It has been so difficult to blog here in Genova.  So difficult to sit down and relax into attempting to describe some of the magic that has been happening here in this city I love.  But I woke early this morning, woke early and here I am, at the kitchen table, next to that window that opens out onto the street ... ready to write.

Already the neighbours are hanging their laundry on lines strung across the street here.  There is a pink duvet cover and a blue fitted sheet hanging between the ancient city gate, called Porta Soprana, and I. 

People are heading out to work, August and holiday already being anticipated in their casualness.  7.30am and there's a warm breeze, blue skies and 20 celsius or more.

These last few days here have been full ... even those times marked down as 'free'.  But 'free' ... what do I mean by that? I  guess they've been marked down as nowhere we have to be however the places we've ended up and the moments we've had have been so good.

Over years I've come to know some special people here in Genova and these last few days have been full of visiting with them although, as is always the case, I'm meeting new people too.  Last night we went to aperitivo with Alessandra, catching up with Federico, who introduced us to Paolo ... who gifted us a copy of his new cd.

Later, down in Piazza delle Erbe, we had dinner with Paula and her Paolo, not pausing in our conversations until 11pm ... when we  were surprised to realise the time.

And don't imagine that these are conversations or meetings where we talk lightly.  The weather and small stories might weave their way through our conversations but mostly there is this divine intensity with people.

And there is always laughter.

Two city apartments have been involved in this visit.  We were testing a new Air BnB space, with our future clients in mind, before returning to my much-loved space here in Via Ravecca.  Paola's place. 

Our dates for the Air BnB were 9-13 July but it appears that there was a brainfade and yes ... we included the night of 13 July as a night spent at the first place. 

Our Air BnB host smsed us at 10.30pm on 13 July, apologising for missing our leaving, hoping our stay was a good one.  We were out at dinner with friends, up on the side of those hills that surround the  city.  Reading their message, I felt quite some alarm and shared its contents with Helen, business partner and extraordinarily wise woman.

She was startled too.

A few sms messages later and we decided we would move ... right there and then, in the middle of the night.  We had a huge working day planned for the following day and so it would be fine ... an Adventure in fact.

This all unfolded while we were dinner guests up at Donatella and Luciano's place and the evening had been one of those magical ones.  There's always a bit of magic with those two.  Their friend Eleonora offered to drive us back down into the city and we accepted, with much  gratitude and some laughter. 

Midnight found Helen and I  packing, stripping beds and etc before moving apartments.  Two loads, two giggling hikes through the city ... 1.30am, 24 celsius, we arrived at Ravecca.

Yesterday, despite best intentions and big work day planned, the day was a slow one because ... well you know, we had fallen into bed some time after 2am.

Yesterday I also caught up with our BnB hosts and they apologised for not making it clear that they were relaxed about our mistake that we didn't need to move at that time of night.  They were lovely actually and their BnB is the best I have stayed in yet.  Photographs to follow.

I think one of the things I love best about Genova is surely her people.  They have shown us so much kindness already and we haven't even been here a week. 

Iit's always intense for me here but I suspect that's how I prefer to live life.  Planned meetings with people merge into unplanned meetings with other people.  Invitations and adventures arrive.  There is much joy.

And how do I write of it all?   Of Lorenzo introducing us to the loveliest people at his cafe yesterday.  Or Paolo, the singer, gifting us a copy of his cd.  Of Donatella and Luciano preparing a most marvelous gluten-free, vegetarian meal ...  Actually, we discovered they know Lorenzo too.  The Lorenzo who came and stayed with us in Antwerp.

There was a lovely long lunch with Stefano and Miriam, and meeting their beautiful friend from Haiwaii.  Dinner at Stefano's restaurant, and a long conversation with a woman I have come to know via a series of accidental meetings over years.  I photographed Paola more than a few years ago.  But that ... that story is so long and delightful that I can't tackle it here.  Not yet.  I want to tell it true and it's complicated.

Today we're off and wandering again.  The weekend is full of another kind of adventure and there is so much to write about ... and already my tummy is saying, But Di, what about breakfast?

I've been here an hour ... mostly sitting staring out the window that looks out over the small alleyway, or caruggi, drifting in and out of these stories I want to tell here ... overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of what has already been.

It's good to be back in Genova.  Really really good.

Below ... Donatella cooked us zucchini flowers, as well as so many other dishes (but my flash batteries ran out just as I began.  Living out of suitcase can lead to chaos with me).   Anyway, it was my first time eating zucchini flowers.  They were divine.