Archive for September, 2012
I must admit that when I travel, I’m being quite picky in choosing accommodation.
Choosing the right place for the right mood and moment, sometimes can make all the difference. This is why I decided to spend my short Rome vacation in the vintage retro chic hotel RetRome, which is just a walking distance from the Colosseum. (a huge plus). Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to take some pictures of its different eclectic rooms and hear more about it from Moti Erdeapel, its young entrepreneur owner, who I adore for his great drive and vision.
Apparently, both Moti and I grew up at the same city in Israel, but we never met before. So it was only natural not only to hear how he started his business but also to catch up on some familiar childhood memories.
Moti found himself in Rome to study Political Science majoring in International relations. He decided to study abroad as he wanted to experience a different culture and see the world (sounds familiar) and ended up staying. During his studies he was working in a small hotel in Rome and realized he was drawn to this world of hospitality and tourism. He loved the dynamic of the business and meeting people from all over the world. So when he was on the verge of graduating school, it was quite obvious for him that he would try on his own.
How it started:
Moti started his first tiny hotel with a local friend and together they rented a small space next to Rome Central Train Station and due to a tight budget, they bought old furniture in the flee markets and garage sales and ended up restoring them. They decided to name the place RetRome, (for the combination of Retro and Rome) and kept growing. They wanted to do something different that would reflect their personality but also offer their guests a fresh experience and an alternative to what was out there for tourists. After a few years in this location, the RetRome moved to its current location, which is a much bigger space that could offer more comfort and better amenities to their guests, but they kept the same unique design concept of vintage and personal touch to the interior design.
The Vintage Concept:
“Using vintage furniture and objects is a way to create spaces that communicate with the guest via icons and nostalgic pieces that serve as time capsule of a shared cultural memory” Moti shared with me his vintage choices. “We never forget that our mission is to offer a home away from home to our guests so a clean relaxed atmosphere is an important guideline…besides, I think that the value that old furniture can give to a space is by far higher then just picking up everything from the shelf or a catalog. The notion that only new is desirable is slowly passing from the world and I personally am very happy with that.”
Apart from his passion for design, Moti has decided to use vintage furniture also for eco-friendly reasons. He searches and restores old furniture instead of buying everything new (sustainable agenda) and the hotel uses energy saving and non polluting systems for heating, warm water and air-conditioning. A year ago, Moti and his parter Oren Zohar, decided to branch out and opened a second hotel in Barcelona, which is proving to be a great success. He also told me in ‘secret’ that his future goal is to open a third hotel in Berlin. I can only imagine how great it will be.
Meanwhile, here are some of the great and charming vintage articles and furniture in RetRome, Roma.
When you enter the reception, you cannot avoid the two vertical posters of Merilyn Monroe and of Marlon Brando, which served as an advertising to a photography exhibit in 2005. The two great brown leather sofas (you really want to dive into them) were bought in a Rome’s Sunday flee market and Moti completely restored them. The huge space aged white lamp was inherited after a friend left an apartment, and the blue velvety armchair was bought from a friend who is a movie-set designer. There are so many objects and articles that were collected and bought from Rome and Amsterdam’s flee markets throughout the years.
The Blue Room:
I’m obsessed with its gorgeous deep blue flower tiles. As minimalistic as it is, this is one of my favorite rooms. Very sunny and airy with a huge white leather bed that gives a romantic twist. It has an original Art work on the walls of a typical Italian guy on a Vespa. (Art work is by Andrea from Arte 21, one of the owner’s friends). Vintage ceiling lamp and an old clock complete the atmosphere.
The Roma Room:
This room is a tribute to Rome. The color combo of brown and blue is a winner. Floor tiles are the terra cotta ones that go well with the furniture selection; The bed was manufactured in Rome 60 years ago and was recently restored. A Federico Felini’s original poster of the movie Roma sets the atmosphere along with two chairs which were found in the flea markets of Amsterdam.
The Purple Dreams Room:
What can be more retro romantic than sleeping in a bed with an Italian purple velvet back? I think the velvet fabric and the color purple dominates the atmosphere and makes the room a perfect setting for a romance getaway in Rome.
The Movies Room:
This room is inspired by the golden era of Italian cinema. The image of the Kissing couple above the bed is taken from a scene from the movie La Dolce Vita. The 1960’s vintage bed comes with a built-in colorful lights and a radio and the original paintings by the painter Carlo Quatrucci are a true Italian nostalgia to the same era.
Small Retro Double Room:
This room has a beautiful picture of Nina, an Italian 1960’s Icon by Arte 21, and white and orange plastic furniture from the Dutch designer Gispen. All the objects in the room communicates with the colourful tile pattern, which I couldn’t take my eyes of them.
Next time you visit Rome and you are looking for something unique and different, I highly recommend to check in RetRome. Also thanks to its premium location.
RetRome, Via Marco Aurelio 47, 00184 Rome, Italy
“Napoli is like a woman you fall in love with by mistake. First, it attracts you by its magnetic passionate force, but once you experience the bad manners of the Neapolitans, you cool off'”
This is how Marina, my personal tour guide, summed it all up while we were walking in the narrow streets of Naples, her hometown.
I was always curious about Naples. Was it because I am always drawn to the genre of Mafia movies, or maybe because ever since I started my photography project ‘Intimacy Under the Wires’ I was constantly told to go to Naples and shoot laundry. Therefore, I promised myself that the next time I would be in Italy, I would go and see Naples, even just for a day.
I wanted to make sure that once I visit Naples, I would do it with a local. There is no better way to experience a place than through a local’s (preferred photographer or an Artist) eyes and experience. There is no doubt that Marina, a born and raised proud to be a Neapolitan woman, was the best choice. It was great watching her walking in the streets of the old city, knowing every corner, every courtyard, every building, and hear her great stories about her family and her city. If you happen to visit Naples, I highly recommend to contact Marina.
My main agenda was to shoot as much laundry as possible, better in areas I wouldn’t be able to go by myself, but also to learn about the city and see different parts of it, even though I was only visiting for one day.
“There are places that you go and once in enough…and then there is…Napoli”
I couldn’t agree more with John Turturro‘s words, in a clip he did for his movie Passione, dedicated to Naples and its musical tradition. (please promise me to watch this movie to understand the real essence of Naples). And even though I watched the movie after my visit to Naples, it was similar to the way I experienced it. You cannot stay indifferent to Naples. You either love it or hate it. There is no ‘in between’. You are either drawn to its paradox of love, loss, sex, religion, superstition, birth and death, or you are running away from it.
I LOVED it. The city MAGNETIZED me.
Here are some highlights of my trip and some places worth visiting once in Naples. Bear in mind, it is even more beautiful in real.
Ospedale della Bambole
A magical tiny store which operates as a hospital for dolls from all over the world. I was fortunate to meet Titiana Grassi, a 4th generation in the family business, which was established in 1890. The founder, Luigi Grassi, was making marionettes for Teatro Di San Carlo in Naples, and he had a small laboratory with hanging marionettes. Back then, dolls were made by porcelain and were easily breakable. They were mostly bought by Aristocratic women, as they were expensive. With time, these women found and heard about Luigi Grassi, and asked him to fix their dolls. Due to the high demand, Luigi decided to continue with this tradition and passed these skills to the next generations.
This is a charming place and a magical journey to discover the great toys of the past. Here is a movie about Titiana Grassi and her father, Luigi Grassi Jr.
Ospedale della Bambole, Via San. Biagio dei Librai, 46, Napoli
Giuseppe Marco Ferrigno
After I left Titiana’s store, Marina took me to another dolls’ related store, but this one was one of the most known for its Neapolitan terracotta traditional characters. Started also as a family business since 1838, Ferrigno family passes the mastering of traditional terracotta figures from one generation to another. The store is packed with hand-made icon graphic figures of Neapolitan script and Marina told me that before Christmas time the store is over crowded with visitors and clients who buy these terracotta figures to decorate their homes.
Giuseppe Marco Ferrigno, Via San Gregorio Armeno 8, Napoli
Known also as Largo Corpo di Napoli, got its name from the statue of the Nile God. The Piazzetta is located in the Historic center of Naples, which is considered the first historic core of the city. (Naples was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1995). The square was established in the 15th century and the area was known as a trade center during the Greek and Roman ages. This is one of the REAL authentic squares of Naples.
Church of Gesù Nuovo
Church of Gesù Nuovo (New Jesus) is considered as the most important church in Naples. Located in the Gesù Nuovo Square, the church was originally a Palace built in 1470 for Roberto Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno. In the 1580’s the Palace was sold to the Jesuits (members of the Society of Jesus) and they turned it into the current church. (constructions last from 1584-1601). The church façade in bugnato style, (a style that was especially used during the Italian Renaissance) remained from the Sanseverino Palace. It is a beautiful church inside and out. Don’t miss its interiors as well, although the exterior is incredible.
Gesù Nuovo Church, Via San Sebastiano, 48 Naples
The Market Square is located in the historic section of Naples. Today it is one of the largest squares in the city, but in 1647 the square was the site of battles between rebels and royal troops during Masaniello‘s revolt. Later, in 1799, it was the scene of the mass execution of leaders of the Neapolitan Republic. The area – including parts of the church premises – was heavily bombed in World War II and still shows the scars of the devastation.
Next to Piazza Mercato, you can notice the Church of the Holy Cross with its yellow green Dome. The church was severely damaged during an earthquake in 1980 but it is still impressive and a testimony to the Medieval city it used to be. During Summer times, around 6-7pm, there is a beautiful golden light hitting the Dome. I’m talking by my own experience. Great for a shoot!
Church of Santa Maria del Carmine
Church of Santa Maria del Carmine is located on the other end of Piazza Mercato. It was founded in the 12th century by Carmelite monks driven from the Holy Land in the Crusades. The old monastic grounds next to the church now serve as a shelter for the needy and homeless of the city. You can’t miss the church from far.
San Francesco di Paola Church
San Francesco di Paola Church is located in Piazza del Plebiscito, which is one of the largest squares in Naples. The Church was constructed as an imitation to the Pantheon in Roma and was built as a tribute to Napoleon. It is one of the elegant monuments in Naples and as you can see by the picture, is constantly being restored and maintained.
I just LOVE the huge space and the glass ceiling of Galleria Umberto. It is located across from Teatro di San Carlo and despite its modern look, I was surprised to find out that it was built between 1887–1891. The Galleria was named for Umberto I, King of Italy at the time of construction. It was meant to combine businesses, shops, cafes and social life — public space, with private space in the apartments on the third floor. Don’t miss it! The architecture is breath taking all year long.
Galleria Umberto, Via San Carlo, Naples
Gran Caffe Gambrinus
There are few things I am addicted to; One of them is Coffee. Where ever I travel, I look for a good place to drink my daily cup(s) of coffee. I’ve heard about Caffe Gambrinus before but preferred to try it out myself. The place is known as one of the most important Literary cafes in Italy and a meeting place of cultural Elite in Italy and in Europe. The interior is an Art Nouveau style and the coffee mugs are well decorated. I took my time to take pictures of the mug right after I drank my (overpriced) coffee. Rumors say that Oscar Wilde and Bill Clinton were among the well known figures who have graced the place.
Caffe Gambrinus, Piazza Trieste e Trento, Naples
Gay Odin, Best Chocolate in Town
Another thing I am addicted to and always looking for while I travel, is dark chocolate. I have this habit of searching the streets of a new place I’m visiting, looking for a good Chocolatier. I’ve been eating good chocolates in different places in the world but Gay Odin is by far, the BEST chocolate I’ve ever had. When I got into the store, I asked one of the guys for their most popular taste, and he handed me the La Foresta one. Words and pictures cannot describe the devine taste. This is a must-stop place when in Naples.
Gay Odin, Via Vetriera 12, Naples
Naples is also known for its port. It is one of the largest Italian seaports and one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean Sea.
Naples is also known for its Pizza. No wonder Julia Roberts went all the way to Naples to have a relationship with her pizza it in the movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. If you want to see the location of the scene, visit L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele.
As I mentioned in the title of the post, Naples is a city of great contradictions. Even though it was a short visit, it left a great impression on me and a desire for more.
I would go back in a heartbeat.
‘You have to go to Naples’
This is what every body who saw or heard about my on-going photography project ‘Intimacy Under the Wires‘ kept telling me.
So I did.
I did go to Naples. And it didn’t disappoint. On the contrary. It was a heavenly place for my shoot and a tremendous landmark for my project.
Walking in the narrow streets under the crumbling balconies of old colorful buildings, keeping my head up and my camera always ‘on’, was an amazing visual experience. I couldn’t keep my head down, not for a minute, not to miss any shooting opportunity but to keep following the cloth- lines as they ran from one balcony to another.
I booked a private tour guide in advance, to make sure I visit the tiniest streets and the more dangerous areas so I could be free to shoot Laundry. Marina, who was born and raised in Naples and is very proud to be called a native Neapolitan, took me to Via Forcella in the Forcella district, where the Camorra (Naples’ Mafia) clans rule. And so, a sense of urgency and danger accompanied my shooting experience. (I loved it!)
When we got to the entrance of Via Forcella, Marina stopped and said; ‘This is where GOD is’. She looked at me to make sure I understood what she meant and continued: ‘I find GOD in human beings. and this is where we hang our clothes…This is where the hanging clothes and the hanging stories of the Neapolitans exist’
She urged me to be quick with my shoot (‘because it is not a safe place’, she said) and I took a deep breath to overcome of my sense of apprehension and got my camera ready.
This is just a hint of what I have found.
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans….
This sentence basically sums up what led me to become a photographer.
I got quite excited today to find an interview I did for Resource Magazine few months ago, published in today’s blog, under the category of Image Makers. I met with Janet Alexander one rainy morning over a cup of coffee when she wanted to hear how I became a photographer and how my laundry project ‘Intimacy Under the Wires‘ started.
To see more of my Laundry project, please check my ‘Intimacy Under the Wires’ category
To read my article about Tel Aviv; Production of the World in Resource Magazine Summer 2012, please check here.
After I was so thrilled to be chosen as one of the Blogger of the Month for July on EasyJet Holiday Blog, I wanted to share with the readers some of my favorite places I’ve visited when I was in Lisbon.
I’ve decided to concentrate on four great places visitors should not miss when they explore this great city;
Mude, the new Fashion and Design Museum for the design lovers, A Vida Portuguesa Concept Store for shopping, Pensao Amor for the night scene and Petiscaria Ideal, for those who like to eat well.
To read the full post on EasyJet, please visit here.
The Italian Fashion magazine Marie Claire ITALIA has picked up one of the images I took of the flea market scene in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and featured it in the latest September Issue.
The flea market in Jaffa and the Vintage scene in Tel Aviv in general, is quite remarkable and trendy (and I promise to write a full post about it soon) Meanwhile, here it is in Marie Claire ITALIA online.
‘Siamo a Jaffa, nel mercato delle pulci più grande d’Israele. «Qui si respira una nuovaatmosfera, se siete a Tel Aviv non perdetevela!», ci dice Sivan Askayo, fotoreporter israeliana di base a New York, autrice di Vintage retro chic: un viaggio fotografico, e un invito agironzolare, tra boutique vintage, negozietti di modernariato e pub retro-chic’