Another Sunday Morning, in Genova, Italy

I woke slowly this morning, enjoying the sensation of being in a bed fitted with beautifully heavy white sheets that had belonged to a friend's grandmother, and thinking about how it is to wake up here in Genova.  The city I have loved for so long now.

On this quiet Sunday morning it felt a little like Christmas morning ...

I had my window open to the world outside and the church bells began ringing in the Sunday morning silence.  I wanted to sleep again but I couldn't.   I have too much I want to write ... of these past days and nights, and of my photography workshops for 2017.  I know i can share this city and my photography in ways I have never been able to offer them before.  They are my passions ... 

I was out last night (Thursday and Friday night too) but last night, listening to a band called Nickel & Dime at  the agriturismo called E Reixe.  E Reixe (Genovese for Roots) where we were served the most delicious food before the dining room became the concert venue.   

I was out until 1 am, like the previous two nights ... different friends, different music. 

The people I've met these last few days ...it's been remarkable.  But last night, the most striking thing was the love I saw there in the room. The band members are all friends, and they were having a really good time, as were those who joined the band and played or sang for a song or two.  And then there was the love between husbands and wives ... it shone, even managing to warm those like me, out there on the edge of it all.

Perhaps it's because I'm a photographer who loves to write, or perhaps it's simply my way of being but I enjoy quietly studying the people I meet.  It's like exploring a new country, although just as a tourist.  I only get to see what is there on the outside but last night seemed special, as people let this curious New Zealander question them, and tell her stories too.  

Those stories that feel like they get more surreal as the curve of my life expands and is lived in different countries ... as I live different lives.  

I have fallen into bad ways.  I've been using my phone camera to take photographs, enjoying the freedom and lightness of it but it's just not good enough. I just went through the photographs I've taken these last few nights but low light remains a problem.  It turns out ... phone cameras aren't magic wands and one must still observe the rules of photography and light.  Mmmhmm but it was a great night, with music that made me smile so hard, and good people.  I wandered off to youtube and found Nickel and Dime playing in another bar that I love - da Ostaia da U-Neo, over in Sestri Ponente.  I was there Thursday night.

But it's Sunday.  Let's see how it unfolds.  

10.15am, and the church bells are ringing again, louder ... and my bed is calling me back.  Just for a little bit.

Buongiorno!

The New Phone ...

I've finally done it.  I finally gave up on the phone I left Belgium with and, when replacing its little dead body, I inquired about phones with decent cameras ... not including iPhones.

And I think I've done well.  I'm entirely in love with this new machine so very necessary to my life, as people need to be able to contact me and that wasn't a given for a more than a year. But more than that, I have this lovely little machine that lets me take decent snapshots as I wander.

The series of photographs that begin this post ... Piazza De Ferrari's fountain lit up for the evening.  Then, Palazzo Ducale in yesterday's 7.30am sunrise light.  And the last, taken this morning around the same time, looking forward along Piazza Garibaldi. 

I love my morning walk and I'm rapt to be able to share a little of this city I love so well.

I share these photographs on Facebook.  Sometimes on my page, other times on my Genova page - Love Notes to Genoa.  

I had to smile ... the most feedback came for the leather shop photograph below.  People wanted to know the shop's location, and the price of the bags.  

They're exquisite, aren't they.

The church in the second set is surely my favourite church exterior here in the city.  I love seeing it in the morning ... the beautiful wash of colour, lit up by the sun, and so many of my favourite colours.

And last but not least, my current favourite cafe for aperitivo.  Il Fileo's is committed to both quality and quantity.  All that you see cost me, in total, the lovely wine included ... 8 euro.  It works as dinner :-)

Life goes on here.  I'm fighting a little anemia because I'm not mad-keen on the cure however the elevator in my building is under repair and I am hating the 8 flights of marble stairs.  'Porca miseria!' is about all I can say on reaching my door.  I will take the medicine ... as I love the home I have found here. 

Another of the things I really enjoy about Genova, is its vibrant music scene.  I've been fortunate and heard more than a few bands lately.  But that's probably a whole other post.

In other news, I'm just about ready to launch a series of behind-the-scenes photography workshops, now that I actually live here.  I'm really excited about them and know I'm offering a quality experience.  I will share as soon as it's up.

Just a small catch-up, with photographs.  I'm good and life is mostly beautiful.

Livorno, Tuscany

I'm here this morning, in Livorno, Tuscany.  Just for 24 hours.

I had breakfast down by this wild and beautiful sea ... after battling Wellington-like winds to get there.  But the wind was warm enough and the coffee & crema brioche superb.

I was on a train at 9am yesterday, slipping through Liguria and down into Tuscany, to attend the first birthday of my favourite little man in the world.  It was really worth it. I met some lovely people, ate delicious food, and got to spend time with that lovely family I know.

I had to buy a new phone last week.  My old phone is almost legend, in that I've had trouble with it since moving to Italy ... It finally died an ugly android death.  I tried making-do with someone else's old phone but it was turning into an incredible saga.  Finally I caved and bought something new.  

I love my new phone.  I asked the guy to help me out, said I was a photographer and wouldn't mind having a phone with a decent camera.  I think he's done that.  No, it's not an iPhone but a Samsung, and so far it's impressing me.  I took the photograph above, using it.

On the packed train, I discretely took photographs as we passed through Carrera, with all its mountains and marble, and Rapallo ... a place I had read of in both of the books I just read about Hemingway's life.  And now this morning, after my cafe breakfast, there I was ... tears streaming from my eyes, hair a wild wind-blown mess, leaning into said wind to take a series like this.

I'm getting picked up soon and it's road-trip time.  I love road-trips.  I'm like the tail-wagging Labrador who loves nothing better than going someplace in a car.  Anyplace.  I think it's a couple of hours back to Genova, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Italy from the road.  But for now, it's time to explore Livorno.

I had been thinking of getting a Vesper one day but now I'm thinking, I'm a road-trip kind of woman, maybe I have to get a car.

Buongiorno from Livorno.

 

An Exciting New Camera - The Light L16 Camera

The L16 captures light through many small apertures and uses folded optics technology to bounce light off angled periscopic reflex mirrors and through slim, horizontally positioned lens barrels before reaching an optical sensor.

The result is a camera capable of taking DSLR quality photos that can fit in the palm of your hand.

The Story of Light, the company website.

Imagine a compact camera that uses multiple lens systems to shoot photos at the same time, then computationally fuses them into a DSLR-quality image...

 I can't imagine that ... I'm an artist, not an engineer however I am incredibly curious about this new camera that can fit into the palm of my hand.  You see, I don't take my much-loved Canon 5D, MkII every place I go because it's heavy and bulky.  I dislike admitting this but yes, sometimes in my beautiful Italian life, my camera is left at home ...

Packing my camera gear has to be more about a work gig or a planned wander.  I was just out today, that New Zealander living in Italy, and I came home as excited as a child about the images I had found.

Spring has arrived, it's sunny and warm, the light is divine ... and I had nothing else I had to be doing. It's Sunday.  So here I am, sitting at a wooden table, on the terrace of the ancient palazzo I call home, blogging ...  it's not a bad life.

So you see it, I love my Canon.  We're doing okay but when the time comes, I admit to being both curious and excited about trying this new technology ... I love the story of it.  I can really relate, although I'm not using a cellphone.  I'm just waiting, for the right camera ...

As for the fun my Canon and I have ...I have this thing about reflections.  Puddles, ports, glass ... anything that offers me a reflection of something beautiful.  

Where ever I have lived in the world, I've always tried to see what I photograph in a 'new way'.  In this exquisite ancient Italian city ... a city with the largest intact medieval centre in Europe, my intention has been to capture it in a way that makes people curious to experience more. 

I was quietly pleased with this image of the city reflected in an unexpected place.  Painters have mistaken it for a painting - every single time.  And the Genovese seem to approve too. 

And me ... well, I love it because it's all about light, and about luck.  Luck because the reflections aren't always there.  

Mmmhmmm, I wonder how the L16 and I would see the city ...

'They Might Save My Life' ...

The nest of fish was crisp under a coarse snow of salt and smelled so simple and good I thought they might save my life.  Just a little.  Just for that moment.

Extract, 'The Paris Wife', by Paula McLain.

Dear Ren,

I have been writing to you for weeks, then discarding all efforts as unworthy ... unable to finish them.  I even bought a notebook for the thoughts I had while moving from task to task but I change bags, depending on my destination.  The notebook ended up living on my desk, always out of reach whenever I needed it.

Nothing has worked, complicated by my ideal  ... which is to wait for that golden moment, when I'm in the flow - writing straight from the heart.  But those moments are so rare these days, they need time.  There has been no time, no space, for that state of mind.

But here I am today, at one of my 'haunts' .... I have favourite places, scattered all over this ancient Italian city.  For hot chocolate, for espresso, for crema brioche.  For ravioli, for pizza, and for my new love, calzone.  For music, for wine, for aperitivo.

I spend sparingly.  Aperitivo must count as a dinner and of good quality.  The hot chocolate must be in a space that allows the creation of, at least, one good lesson plan.  The ravioli must satisfy at every level.  The calzone ... there are just no words.  I'm still completely in love with that cheese, ham, mushroom and tomato creation.  I leave so full and so comforted.  I will enjoy that for now.  It won't last forever.  

Today I opted to go wandering without my laptop because I had to replenish my coffee supply, which means walking a distance, and my laptop is heavy.  It was raining.  I bailed and left it at home.  However I didn't pack a pen, nor 'your' notebook.  

And it has to be noted that asking for a 'pen' with my New Zealand English, takes quite some courage in countries not my own.  They tell me that my pen still sounds like 'pin', and so I have learned to distract them from the vowel sound by pretending to write ... at the same time.  

I see their bewilderment as they listen, then comprehension dawn as they see my hand move, as if writing.  

I survive.  I'm working on moving my vowels back into general European usage but it's a big job.  Actually, in a side note, I begin studying Italian on Monday.  2 hours per week.  Let's see if Massimo can work magic.  Paula and I will study together.

Meanwhile I'm recovering from my first 2017 cold.  It hit mid-week.  It hit everyone I was out with the previous Friday.  I was one of the last to go down with it.  I'm going to view this as my immune system putting up a brave fight however, I did have anemia again and so, I may be a little run-down.  

Self-care is the hardest lesson for me to learn, it seems.

My future, as ever, remains unknown to me but maybe that is the stuff of real life. I am unable to protect myself with a routine, a career, a place I belong ... or any kind of known future, actually.  It's all still an adventure. 

On the bright side, I am surrounded by really good people, and simply adore my current landlords.  I am so glad I came to this city I love so well..  And I am living in an ancient palazzo on the most beautiful street here in Genova. I feel quite blessed as I run down the marble staircase each morning.  I have a room, a kitchenette and a bathroom - did I tell you already? 

My social life is picking up again.  Last Friday I was invited out to a small bar on the edge of the city.  Canadian friend, Leah, and UK friend, Bianca, came with me, to hear Marcello play.  All I knew was Marcello's music was good ... I could promise those trusting friends of mine nothing else.

We had the most superb evening at Ostaia Da U Neo!!  There was live music, a band but a band without boundaries.  It seemed like everyone there at the bar was either a talented musician or singer ... or both.  Even the bar owner.  It was a massive jam session, we were there at the front table ...  it finished late.  I floated home, quite happy for all kinds of reasons, and the red wine had been delicious too.

 Marcello Scotto playing at Ostaia Da U Neo, Genova

Marcello Scotto playing at Ostaia Da U Neo, Genova

 

Saturday morning finds me sitting here at Mentelocale, in Palazzo Ducale, drinking hot chocolate, sweating a little, writing in the back of the book I bought with me to read.  It's 14 celsius, raining ... kind of balmy.  I hear memories in my head ... Mum and Nana both saying 'it's good for the garden, this weather'. 

So I borrowed a pen from the guy at the bar, to write in the book I had brought here to read, sparked by the quote at the start because yes, sometimes these small and beautiful things, like a nest of fish ... crisp under a coarse snow of salt ... smelling so simple and good ... might save my life.'

It made me want to write to you.  It made me stop the perfectionist, I can be, from tearing this up and never finishing it.   It made me sit down and copy it out to you once I returned to my computer.  I'm stunned that I've made it this far.  There are so many discarded letters to Ren, sitting here on my desktop.

I walk alone a lot here.  I love it.  It's a return to the essential me.  I have no problems with wandering alone ... there's a beautiful freedom in choosing the prettiest way home, stopping for a slice of farinata, then hot chocolate.  You would love it, I'm sure.  Possibly I'm basing that on a photograph I took of you here, looking so lost in the place ... in the moment.

I finally understand that I love being surrounded by so many people without being a part of anyone or anything.  There's a beautiful silence somehow.

  I came home to write to you ... finally

Lots love, Di  

This is one of a series of public letters to Ren – a friend, a writer, a poet, and an extraordinary woman who writes to me via her own blog.

Please click through to her website: Ren Powell: Poetics & The Good Life

'Finding Home in Solitude' ... Alex

This interview, where Alex talks of 'finding home in solitude', there at the end ... that's what I'm doing these days.

It's an interesting process, after years of having this constant dialogue in my head ... 'What does this person need from me?'  

'How can I help them?'  there is this new process where I'm learning to consider what I want.

2 husbands ... and I lived 2 lives that were shaped, so completely, around their lives.

2 divorces ... and I lost everything, twice, including countries.

I am living in interesting times.  My book is begun, the professional photography has been put to bed for the moment.  

And perhaps ... this interview, with Alex, will give you a sense of the solitude.  The gift, and the difficulty, of learning to be alone.