For the last few years, or actually since my blog exists, I am trying to keep up with the tradition of writing a summary of my previous year in terms of my work and travels. Looking back at my previous posts from previous years (2012, 2013, 2014) is a great opportunity for me to see my growth personally and professionally.
2015 has been quite a busy year for me.
I’ve been traveling to Europe, the US and Africa. The latest has been an eye opener experience I will not easily forget. And while I was back in Tel Aviv, I was busy shooting stories in the city for various magazines in Europe. Tel Aviv seemed to be a popular destination to write about.
In January I have travelled with my boyfriend to Val Gardena, in the Dolomites of South Tyrol. As a semi pro skier, he wanted to teach me how to ski. Since I have never skied before (not even when I was living in New York) and after three try outs that failed to keep me standing still on the snow, I have preferred to take pictures and document others skiing, then sliding the snow slopes myself.
“I was 16 years old when I first visited Florence. It was a “Sweet 16” trip to Italy and the tour guide took us to Florence, just for a day. All I remember from that day was the statue of David in a blur. 20 years later, and I went back to Florence for the second time, but this time as a Photographer.
Florence was glorious. A bright Renaissance gem in North of Italy, where I spent 6 days and observed more than just the statue of David. Florence for me was running up the hills all the way to Piazzale Michelangelo, just to see the city waking up soaked in a morning dew. Florence for me was climbing up 412 stairs up the tower of the Duomo, for the sake of taking beautiful pictures. Florence for me was all about chocolate and coffee. Florence is walking through Santa Croce’s busy courtyard or feeding pigeons in San Marco Square. Florence for me was visiting the Academia at via Ricasoli on a busy day, paying only 4 Euro to see the masterpiece of David, and sneaking pictures of him when the museum guards were not watching. Florence is visiting Galleria Uffizi and observing The Birth of Venus, The Primavera or the Neptune statue in full glory. Florence is having Ricotta Cheese and Figs for lunch and chocolate and ice cream for dinner. Florence is walking in cobble stone streets with funny names such as Via de Tornabuoni or Via Maffia. Florence is having an afternoon stroll in Giardino di Boboli, or drinking water from Fontana dello Sprone. Florence is watching men in their best tailored suits riding their bicycles. Florence is visiting the Towers of Donati or the great halls of the old synagogue in Via Farini. Florence is watching the sunset over Ponte Vecchio while you are holding a bottle of wine in one hand and your loved one in other. Florence is doing and experiencing all of the above. Over and Over again”
To see more of my Florence images and read more about it, please click on this link.
Issue no. 7 of SisterMag is all about Italy. I was so excited when Thea asked me to contribute to this issue, and I already knew that from all Italian cities I’ve traveled to, I would choose Florence.
If you love Italy, than this SisterMag issue is for you. Flip through the colorful pages and read my article on page 54.
Florence is one of the most romantic cities I know. Let’s face it.
I was 16 years old when I first visited Florence. It was a ‘Sweet 16’ trip to Italy and the tour guide took us to Florence, just for a day. All I remember from that day was the statue of David. I remember how my parents got excited to hear I saw the statue of David, and my sister was shocked to hear he was naked. It took me 20 years to go back to Florence for the second time, and honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long.
Last year I got the urge to visit Florence. But Florence only. Was it because of a Travel article I read or just my imagination and curiosity to focus on Florence only, I don’t know… but eventually my instincts were right! Florence was glorious. A little Renaissance gem in North of Italy. My trip was mostly focused on photography and my wish to see more of this city than the statue of David. I walked a lot, as walking is my favorite way of discovering a new place and I got into some great neighborhoods beside the touristic attractions.
Florence for me was running up the hills all the way to Piazzale Michelangelo, just to see the city waking up soaked in a morning dew.
Florence for me was climbing up 412 stairs up the tower of the Duomo, for the sake of taking beautiful pictures.
Florence for me was all about chocolate and coffee. Better have a coffee for two at the mythological Cafe Gilli, or drinking coffee cream at Caffe Scudieri with a chocolate ice cream right with it.
Florence is walking through Santa Croce’s busy courtyard or feeding pigeons in San Marco Square.
Florence for me was visiting the Academia at via Ricasoli on a busy day, paying only 4 euros to see the masterpiece of David, and sneaking pictures of him when the museum guards were not watching.
Florence is visiting Galleria Uffizi and observing The Birth of Venus, The Primavera or the Neptune statue in full glory.
Florence is having Ricotta Cheese and Figs for lunch and chocolate and ice cream for dinner.
Florence is walking in cobble stone streets with funny names such as Via de Tornabuoni or Via Maffia
Florence is having an afternoon stroll in Giardino di Boboli, or drinking water from Fontana dello Sprone.
Florence is watching men in their best tailored suits riding their bicycles.
Florence is visiting the Towers of Donati or the great halls of the old synagogue in Via Farini.
Florence is walking through Piazza San Lorenzo markets, Piazza Del Republica or passing by Palazzo Pitti.
Florence is watching the sunset over Ponte Vecchio while you are holding a bottle of wine in one hand and your loved one in other.
Florence is doing and experiencing all of the above.
On September 2012 I was visiting Rome to shoot RetRome, a boutique hotel in Celio neighborhood, few steps away from the Colosseum. The hotel, managed by two Israelis, is unique by its retro and vintage design and furniture. You can read more about it here, in a previous post I wrote about my experience and my impression.
Today, my photographed article about RetRome is featured in At Magazine, January 2013 issue
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
I’ve been following ‘Carla Loves Photography’website for almost a month now. It was after Carla herself commented on one of my previous guest blogs for ‘Lost in Cheeseland’ (another great blog I am following) and I got intrigued. I just love how people connect with other inspiring and creative people through their blogs, thoughts and photos. It has been the THEME of my life recently. Seriously!
Carla’s website and facebook page are filled with inspiration. If you sign up for it, I can only guarantee some beautiful images and inspiring quotes on a daily basis. Oh, and of course, Carla’s Photography as well. She is an Ausie who lives in Paris and is married to an italian man. Sounds confusing? Not really when it has to do with such a creative and inspiring woman like her. I haven’t met Carla yet (and I say ‘yet’ because I really want to meet her) but something tells me she is very charismatic and energetic woman. She has been shooting Travel and Fashion stories for magazines such as Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Entertaining and Traveling and more. When she is not traveling with her husband to Italy (one of her favorite destinations) she is shooting women in Paris. She has a series called ‘Midnight in Paris’ in which she offers a private shoot at night in Paris and another one ‘Paris Muse’, a private shoot in a chic hotel in Paris, including a hair and a make up artist which are part of Carla’s team. If I had known about it earlier, I would have booked a Paris Muse session myself, when I’ve celebrated my Birthday in Paris last month. (note to self for next time)
So without further ado, I’m really excited to have Carla as a guest blogger and sharing some of her travel images taken in her husband’s home town, Terlizzi in Puglia in the south of Italy, and share the little snaps of daily life in this untouristy town..
Where are you from? I am from Sydney Australia although I grew up in the country of New South Wales and returned to the city as an adult.
Where did you photography? I studied photography in Florence Italy and loved it. I have since done further courses and workshops in Australia.
What made you want to learn it? It was the one thing I truly loved when I decided to leave my career behind. I felt as though photography was an accessible art and I didn’t realise at the time that it would be a great way to express my emotions. It taught me that what’s inside a photographer, comes out in their pictures.
If you weren’t a photographer what would you do? I think I would like to work in a garden. I am fascinated by nature and spend far too little time in natural surroundings (living in Paris) and now when I have the chance to get out of town I really feel the difference, it’s so soothing, beautiful, restorative and you can really feel the impact on your body and mind.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Inspiration comes from everything and anything, nature, old films, history, the seasons, a person, my mood, I think we just need to open our eyes and our hearts and inspiration is everywhere.
What do you mostly love shooting? I love shooting people and the little details of daily life. I have always had an obsession with washing, Madonnas and crinkly faces!! I never tire of the beauty of Italy.
How do you usually approach a new project? Sometimes I put a lot of research into it and others I just jump in and start shooting and see where it takes me.
What are you working on right now? I am usually working on different projects at a time, so right now I am finishing the images for a book and I have started shooting portraits at night in Paris. I have always loved Europe at night, in particular Paris and there is something about being photographed at night that makes us look like we are in a movie. I recently started doing night portraits and to my surprise everybody wants one!
Window or Aisle? Aisle always! After travelling backwards and forwards from Europe to Australia I have realised that the window seat is like a prison and you only get to see the world for about 10 mins during take-off and 10 mins when you land. I love the freedom of the aisle.
One of my closest friends tends to measure her Birthday and the year that passed by the number of places she has visited and the number of people she fell in love with. In other words, a good year for her will be a year well travelled (to some new destinations) and a year she has experienced love or fell in love at least once. When she shared with me this information, I smiled and paused for a second but just because I had to think about her great idea and evaluate my past year according to her standards; Love and new destinations.
Looking back at where I was and what I did and how I celebrated my previous Birthday and having a check point to where I am at now (few days before my birthday) I must admit I have covered quite much of the plan. Yes, I’ve been traveling quite a lot for work or to catch up with family and friends and I met some interesting people.
Last year on my Birthday I packed my camera bag and another Gemini friend (Sharyn) and we went to Nassau, the Bahamas. We both wanted to escape New York for a while. We didn’t want to deal with velvet ropes or high priced drinks as we did in previous years on our Birthdays. Obviously the Bahamas was a great escape, even though I experienced a semi-Tornado storm on the day of my Birthday for the first time in my life.
On the day of our Birthdays we both wrote our goals for the next coming year (sort of a habit we keep). I think Sharyn wrote hers on a piece of paper and shoved it in a beer bottle and then she threw it to the water. I wrote mine on the back of a Murakami’s book I was reading back then. Whereas I am not sure how much did Sharyn complete her list, I think I covered almost 60% of mine.
It has been an exciting year for sure, and even though 60% of my goals were covered, I’ve managed to achieve some extra new ones I didn’t plan before;
I have traveled to some new destinations and came across different and various cultures. I made some new friends. I might even lost some. I tasted new kinds of food I would never imagine I try, not to mention where I found it. I learned how to translate my thoughts and ideas into pictures and words. I struggled with lighting equipment. I started to like negative space. I met and photographed famous people. I got nervous before doing that. I tried to decide what should be in focus. I took blurry pictures. I probably bad worded something up. I got confused more than once because of a guy. I considered getting off facebook few times. I finally gave in to Twitter. I found my name printed in some global websites and magazines. That was exciting! I got impatient so many times. I fell few times while running. I tried to be courageous. I talked to myself while taking the Subway. I took a 24 hour flight (almost non stop). I took a night train all the way from Hanoi to Sapa just to realize there was too much fog for a shoot. I took the midnight train back at the same day. I left my camera bag in the middle of a Starbucks in Tokyo. I watched a lot of French movies. I searched mostly for natural light. I took pictures of the interiors of other peoples homes and actually kind of liked it. I had some second thoughts regarding my unconventional life. I tried to forgive and forget. I had days based on coffee and dark chocolate. I tend to say YES to opportunities that came across and I freaked out when time was moving too fast.
And even though I feel I was quite slow paced the last couple of months, I can’t wait for the new ones to come.
I don’t really remember when and how exactly I found out aboutSkip Town but I do remember quite well how much I liked it instantly. Its simple yet sophisticated design, the useful and detailed information and the diversity of the featured photographers, made it all so appealing. At least for me. Moreover, its title ‘the online resource for creative travelers’ grabbed my intention right away, but let’s face it; when it has to do with traveling, I’m quite biased.
I was first featured in Skip Town on April 2011, when Jess saw my ‘Intimacy Under the Wires’ project somewhere, and I got all very excited when I saw it online. But now I’m even more excited to be featured for the second time, in the blog’s category ‘Through their Eyes’ where pro photographers share their travel snaps. Read all about it.