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Capturing life

camera-ted-strutz

©Ted Strutz

Her first photo camera was a birthday present received as she entered puberty. It was accompanied by a card that read, “go explore the world out there and show us what you see”. It soon became an item she would never leave the house without.

Soon, that camera was replaced by one more expensive and specialised. It again came as a present and the prompt “so that you capture the beauty of life and never let it go”.

Years later, her photographs are worth millions. Yet she is content with a tripod, a friend and a sky full of stars.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Do undocumented lives make an existence real?

FakeSocialMedia_grande“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Who would know. But that doesn’t rule out the fact that the tree fell. Similarly, if we live a life without posting every single moment of it on social media, are we really living? If there is no (public) proof, how can you demonstrate you are doing the things you do?

There are so many artificial “lives” floating online these days that we are called to distinguish between what is true and what is not. People nowadays feel the urge to gloat, to advertise, and to boast every single – usually happy – moment they experience. But how can you really engage in that moment when you are so busy taking photos, filtering and editing it, coming up with the appropriate hashtags, and picking your brain for the best comment to accompany it with, and then striving to find a proper internet connection in order to upload it to all your followers who in your mind are waiting at the edge of their seats to find out what you’re doing? Does this seem like a life you are enjoying to the fullest?

What about all those people who lived before social media (yes, life did exist before the advent of the Internet)? What about all those Roman emperors and Greek philosophers? We don’t even have a picture of them, yet we know they lived and they accomplished greatness. Are our lives evolving towards pettiness? Towards being so superficial that it matters more to publicize that we are doing something than to actually do it? And what does this say of people themselves?

We are supposed to evolve so that we make our ancestors proud. Instead, the way we are progressing, we will only make our descendants ashamed (provided that they don’t turn out to be even worse).

Il ritorno del grifo

1 DSC08984There are few cities that invite you back no matter how much time has passed. Cities where you spent a significant part of your life, your ‘formation years’ and which draw you back to inject in you every now and then that adolescent hope which you had when you first set foot there. Few cities actually have something new to offer every time you visit. And even fewer make you feel as if you arrive at home. Every time.

The highway ends and you can begin to sense the excitement creeping up inside you. As you turn on those winding roads lined with blooming green trees, you feel that you are returning somewhere familiar. 2 DSC09120And the moment you see that first building, that first location which springs a memory to mind, you know you’re there. Where you left a piece of your heart, a piece of yourself. At a place which is filled with experiences and a best friend who always awaits you with arms wide open. It’s a place where you have a family and it feels like home no matter how long it’s been since your last visit. All it takes is a couple of hours to rediscover it all and blend right back in, as if you never left. As if a part of you continues to live here, evolving along with the city and yearning to remain free, independent and energetic, just like your youthful self when you first arrived.

3 IMG_0746Perugia is a city that registers in your mind and heart. With historic medieval stone buildings, situated in the heart of Umbria at the centre of Italy, between Renaissance Florence and the capital Rome, Perugia is famous. It is a well-known cultural and artistic centre of Italy, rich in architecture.

It hosts arguably the best Italian language school for foreigners, while famous Popes, 4 IMG_0739as well as renowned actress Monica Bellucci (among others) were students at its university. The famous painter Pietro Vannucci, nicknamed Perugino, who was the teacher of famous Renaissance artist Raphael, was a native of Città della Pieve near Perugia, while famous painter Pinturicchio lived in Perugia. Also from Perugia was the famous architect Galeazzo Alessi.

5 DSC08995Situated in the Umbrian hills with an elevation of 493 metres, Perugia is a beautiful medieval city where you can go pretty much anywhere on foot. It is actually more convenient to walk rather than try to drive a car through the narrow winding roads, especially in the city centre.

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With so many uphills and downhills, it is also an ideal city to exercise naturally. Perugia is one of the rare cities that even require the presence of escalators and lifts – hundreds of steps exist throughout the city joining the different levels created due to its very particular geographic location.

7 DSC08989And the most exciting thing is that every strait around every winding corner leads to a magnificent scenery, a stone balcony full of colourful flowers smelling like spring and a series of steps that invite you to follow them to quench your curiosity.

Perugia is a city that inspires and encourages you to enjoy its elegant and interesting lifestyle to the fullest. 8 DSC09145It was only fitting therefore that the city chose as its protector during the Renaissance the mythological griffin – il grifo. With the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion, the griffin – found all over Perugia – is the city’s symbol, its emblem, its mascot, and during a football match, the city team’s nickname. It is associated with strength, courage and intelligence. The wings give it speed; the claws give it ferocious power – a proper combination of the king of beasts and the king of birds.

9 DSC09117Even more fascinating is the presence of an old city, buried when Pope III Farnese at the end of the ‘salt war’ in 1540 decided to build a fortress – Rocca Paolina – to keep the Perugians in line. Five levels high and symbolic of the papal domain, it encompassed an entire medieval neighbourhood, complete with houses, towers and streets. It was finally razed to the ground in 1860 and all that remains are the charming and unique basements, crossed through by escalators and used for cultural exhibitions.

No matter how long or how little you stay, 10 DSC09749there is always something new to discover – a small artisan shop, a tasty dish, a delicious drink. With festivals taking place all year round – be it Umbria Jazz in the summer (when the streets fill with music) or Eurochocolate in the winter (when the city is overflowing with chocolate) – the city invites tourists worldwide to discover the fascination of being a Perugino (and this is not only in reference to the famous Baci chocolates).

11 DSC09053In addition, few cities can boast an ideal balance between provincial traditions (the city’s population counts a mere 170,000) and technological progressions. With almost everyone in possession of a smartphone, the Umbria region even offers free Wi-Fi for two hours a day wherever you are in the city. Plus, the Perugini are avid recyclers – with containers separating waste found throughout the town, thus making the city exceptionally clean.

12 IMG_0735The best thing about a constant stroll up and down the city is that you return home tired but upbeat. Particularly since most of the high-ceiling houses here are naturally cooler inside than outside in the summer and in the winter do not require heaters to retain their warmth. This is when you truly feel fulfilled, when you are falling fast asleep in the warm embrace of a bed bigger and more comfortable than the one you usually lie in, to wake up refreshed, elated and safe of being among family.

13 DSC09057Then when the time comes you don’t want to leave. You already feel accustomed to this tranquil life, carefree and stress-free. Why return to the other side of reality? But departing will only make the next return taste sweeter. Because you will return. That is for certain.

 

N.B. All photos are mine taken in Perugia, Italy on 15-24 July 2014

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Tourist Trap

Naughty or Nice (in a busy city)

DSC06230With Christmas being only a few hours away, everyone is anxiously rushing for their last minute shopping – either the gifts or the food and drink. And there is a general feeling of excitement in the air. With everything closed at around midday of the 24th December, you can sense something important is happening tomorrow (and it’s not just my birthday ;))

Germany is one of the places you want to be during Christmas time. You truly feel like it’s the most wonderful time of the year here, because of all the beautiful Weihnachtsmärkte abundantly found in almost every square and opening in every city. The markets are overlowing with Glühwein, Lebkuchen, Stollen, and chocolates, as well as beer of course, and  the famous German sausages cooked fresh for consumption and mystifying the air with the aroma of a German Christmas. Artisans and handscraftsmen find the greatest opportunities to reveal their work and fill the stalls with the delicately prepared ornaments and perfect ideas for gifts!

DSC06190Germans have many traditions for Christmas. One of them, for example, is that St Nikolaus arrives on the 6th of December bringing children chocolates to sweeten their arrival of Father Christmas later on. DSC06193

This is something represented in the Krampuslauf  in the München Weihnachtsmarkt, where St Nick parades through the market with his trolls (if you see one of these up close, you’ll never be bad again!)

DSC06269The heart of German Christmas Markets has for long now been in Nürnberg (Nuremberg).

An old city enwrapped within stone walls but as busy as a metropolis, visiting this during the busy Christmas season, and particularly during its last days, is truly a challenge. With all sorts of languages being heard in the streets, and people from all over the world being overcrowded in the pedestrianized streets. But it is definitely worth it.DSC06247

There is so much to see in Nürnberg.

The beautifully sculptured Church of St. Sebaldus  appears in almost every city skyline with visitors gathering at its central square – the crossroads for the numerous festive markets spread throughout the city.

A city that draws you in the deeper you go.

DSC06302With stunning views being commonplace, and with a horse-drawn carriage never lacking.

DSC06320There is even a royal castle which offers for an even more beautiful glimpse of the city from above.

The Pegnitz river crosses through the city and provides a magnificent, tranquil atmosphere in which to stroll and take artistic photos.

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It causes tourists to flock on its bridges and take souvenirs of their visit to Nürnberg, be it with a simple phone camera, or the latest technology available. The river and its little inhabitants – the ducks, for example– are a demonstration that no matter how commercial a city may get, there still remains another side, the more humane and “real” one. DSC06359

Whatever the reason behind a visit, finding the time to tour around the city itself and learn a bit of its history, traditions, and culture, will always make you a little bit wiser. And will certainly put a smile on your face and give you a sense of fulfillment.

P.S. All photos included are my own, taken in München and Nürnberg on 22-23 December 2013.

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Frohe Weihnachten!                                                

Merry Christmas!

Buon Natale!

Feliz Navidad!

Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

                                                     Joyeux Noël!

     Also part of Daily Prompt: The Best Day Ever

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