Marco Fabbri & the Irish Fiddle Workshop, Genova

Marco Fabbri.jpg

I'm sitting here, on the second-last step of the marble stairs at Kokopelli B&B, listening to a small group of Italians studying traditional Irish music, played on the fiddle, with Marco Fabbri.

There's a wood burner softening the air, creating that blur where my New Zealand memories exist ...the smoke, the big cosy lounge, and the gathering of good people, reminds me of home, of times past.

I arrived here on Friday night and have been quietly delighting in my good fortune ever since.  Marco is both a superb musician and excellent teacher, and the workshop has been a joy to attempt to capture ... both in photographs and on video. 

As I write this, 5 fiddlers are playing 'Murphy's', led by Marco's foot tapping out the beat.  Paola's B&B is in her home and it's a beautiful home, with unlimited early-morning coffee, which is so important to me these days.  And there's this bed I'm going to struggle to leave, as it's the best I've slept in since leaving New Zealand so many years ago.

Yesterday's lunch was at a local bar and last night's dinner was in my favourite pizzeria down in the city.  'In the city' because after dinner we made our way into the heart of the caruggi where Marco and fellow Roman. Gabriele Caporuscio,  played their beautiful Irish music.  Afterwards they were joined by a few local musicians and had a 'session'.


The big challenge was the lighting, down there in the medieval basement, where light was limited to candlelight.  Not the best for photography but interesting, with the ISO cranked up to 6000+  ... as above.

1am, we 4 dragged ourselves back to the car and made the 30 minute journey, back up into the hills, where we only had the strength to say a series of 'Buona nottte's,' before disappearing to our rooms. 

Sunday morning, and it's been more than 24 hours of Irish music, eating, some laughing and a little drinking too ... I don't want to leave but isn't that how the best workshops go. 

But I wanted to write this while the woodsmoke was still in the air, and while the workshop was still happening, and while I was full of the peace that comes from living out a most excellent experience.  

And I was lucky to get here, much has been happening and I was exhausted when the invitation arrived.  I almost said no to this but suspected it would be to good to miss.  It has been so much better than I could have imagined.  The people have been kind, and there has been the delight of other musicians swirling in and out of the group.

I'll go back to work on the photographs but ciao from this beautiful slice of Ireland, up here in the hills above Genova.


My First Music Video - Nickel & Dime, The Last Wolf on Earth

I have Canon 5D MkII, with a video function I've never used

The band, Nickel & Dime, with Ivo Sposaro - singer, guitarist and song writer , Antonio Capelli on violin, and Massi Di Fraia, as drummer, came over one evening.  To the terrace.

It was really hot but we had a whole lot of fun.  A practice run.  I plan on improving my skills over the summer so I'm ready for a new series of attempts in the autumn.

Rita, Ivo's lovely wife, filmed me filming them play another song ...  

This Genovese Life of Mine ...

Slowly but surely, my life is finding its shape here in Genova.  

And it has been full of so many beautiful moments this year.  Yesterday was one more of those outstandingly excellent days.   One where I had the pleasure of documenting an event that involved one of my favourite musicians ... Jack Savoretti.  

Favorite because I like so many of his songs.

And I did something I've never done before ... but being Jack, he made it so easy to ask.

I have a little man in my life, I adore him.  He's one.  And we love Jack's music.  He's transfixed by Catapult, we dance like fools to Written in the Scars,  and adore  the song Home

And it was because of 'Home', that I asked Jack if I could have my photograph taken with him.  I never do that ... never ever, but I wanted to send a copy to Mr One, who is back in New Zealand now.  Some of his first words, in song form, were from 'Home'.

We might sing when we go out walking.  Quietly, and within the limits of what can be sung by a one year old.  'H-h-h-home' became one of our 'going home' songs. 

It's set in the city stadium here in Genova, that time when Genoa beat Juventus, it pleases both the Genoa fan in me, and that woman who loves Genova more than any place else.  I used to watch the video while I was living in Belgium and England but missing Genova.  It took me home.

And so yesterday, I photographed Jack, as part of an event I will write another post for, chatted with him a little, and yes ... I had my photograph taken for Mr One.

It was a good day.

Late Night, Weather Dancers ... music from Genova

2am and just in from listening to Nickel & Dime. What a delicious band. I had the loveliest time with good people, and great food, up at  at the Agriturismo called E Reixe.
Not sure how I'm going to sleep, and really, I need to. It's been a stunning few nights of music in Genova. 
Grazie mille to Paola, who let me hang out with her tonight, and Thursday night too. 
It was a good night. Really good.

Di Mackey, Facebook.  19 March, 2.16am.

There are a handful of songs, in this 'so far' life of mine, that I have played Endlessly ... on repeat.

This is the latest.  Two Genovese musicians I heard playing on Saturday night.  Ivo was playing with  the band - Nickel & Dime, and Luca played a few songs with them.  

I am enjoying Genova's music scene, so much.

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'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.


'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