Category Archives: Travel Photography

Saint George’s Festival, Lalibela

Our visit to Lalibela happened to coincide with the celebration of Saint George at the Bete Giyorgis, one of the eleven rock-hewn monolithic churches, and pilgrimage site for the member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
 
Bete Giyorgis is to me far the most spectacular of the Lalibela churches because carved out of the ground and shaped from the inside out as unbroken piece of stone. It is also one of the few churches not being spoiled by the UNESCO uninteresting installation being built like umbrellas over the roof of other churches to protect them from the environmental elements. Bete Giyorgis is isolated from the other groups and beautifully sits surrounded by the rural and pastoral landscape.
 
The construction of this church is ascribed to King Lalibela (late 12th or early 13th AD), who wanted to recreate the reign of Jerusalem, and it is today one of the holiest places in Ethiopia.
 
Witnessing the Saint George religious festival almost feels like traveling to a biblical atmosphere. At the early hours of the morning, believers are already standing on the rocks surrounding the church, immersed in their prayers and reading the Holy Bible. Many have already made it throughout the narrow passage leading down to the Church courtyard. As the sun rises, rays of light make their way to enlighten natural caves where pilgrims are playing drums and chanting.
 
The monolithic block gradually comes alive as people keep gathering together to celebrate the Holy mess. The chants contrast with the silent of the rock. The beautiful white traditional dresses, carrying diverse cross motives, juxtapose with the colour of the volcanic tuff the rocks are made off.
 
Later in the morning, as we emerge from the courtyard, the entire site is crowded with believers. A few hours later people will gradually leave to go to schools or workplaces.
 
The Saint George festival is only a small flavour of the many religious events happening in Lalibela. Our guide, Haile, very knowledgeable about Lalibela and surrounding areas, made it possible for us to ‘seamlessly’ blend into the celebration.
 
Few days later, back to London, we feel much closer to the Ethiopian community gathering for the Sunday morning mess at the nearby church, where we are being welcomed very warmly.
 
The experience in Lalibela has created a deep and emotional connection with Ethiopia.
 

 


















Thanks to our tour guide in Lalibela, Hailemariam Wubet (link to facebook page)

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The Addis Merkato, Ethiopia

Last week in Ethiopia we had the opportunity to visit the Addis Merkato, considered to be the largest open market in Africa.
 
Initially overwhelm by the hectic scene, chaos, noise, myriads of business trading all sort of goods, we have adventured into the side streets which lead to various sections of the market.
 
Despite the large size, it is always possible to exit the market from different sides and join one of the main roads surrounding the area. From there it is easy to walk back to the starting point or look for transport.
 
Our guide, Joseph, a tourism student, is very knowledgeable about Addis and the Merkato, and helps us communicating with local. Gradually, the market starts to make sense.
 
We walked throughout stalls selling exotic spices and strong coffee beans. Primarily female and kids are working there and call us “faranji” as we pass by. To them, every foreigner is from China.
 
We learn about the Enset, “false banana” paste, a multipurpose crop feeding more people per square miles than any other cereal.
 
Perhaps the most interesting section is the “recycling” area where things get fixed and eventually traded back in the market. The sound from hundreds of workers chiselling hard material, joining metals part, fixing pots, is like a restless jazz orchestra. In the Merkato, everything gets recycled.
 
People welcome us with curiosity. Some smile and do not mind our presence; others let us understand, in a polite way, that photographs are unwanted. Kids are excited at meeting foreigners and like the engagement. Some wants to take photos with us.
 
At the end of our visit, just before sunset, leaving the market means wanting to go back soon to understand more.

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Venice Carnival 2018

Quiet during the winter months, Venice comes alive during the Carnival, the annual festival with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter.
 
The tradition of the Venice Carnival boasts ancient origins and, whist it is not comparable to what might have been in the 17th century, today the festival attracts crowds of curious people from around the world which transform the town with theatrical joy and playfulness, historical masks and dresses. For two weeks Venice looks at the past decadence celebrating with dances, public events, private parties, exclusive galas and romantic encounters.

 

 





























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“Rialto no se toca”.The Rialto Market in Venice

Opened at the beginning of the 11th century, the Rialto Market has always been at the commercial heart of Venice, and has been supplying fresh fish and vegetables to the town for all this time. Located nearby the Rialto Bridge, it is unsurprisingly  crowded with tourists.
 
Despite the popularity, the Market remains a genuine place where Venetians gather to buy quality food and socialize.
The authenticity of the Market is palpable from the early hours of the morning when the fresh food is delivered by boat, by the noise of the traders, by the sound of their voices in the strong Venetian dialect, by local elders pushing their trolleys, by the seagulls that piles up around fish leftovers after the market closes and the blinds are lifted up.
 
In this respect, the market could be considered a microcosm where Venice still finds its voice, and refuses to become a mere tourist attraction.
 
“Rialto no se toca” (Don’t touch the Rialto Market) roars the Lion, symbol of Venice, as written on the Market banner, was placed there by fishmongers in 2011 when the local municipality proposed moving the wholesale fish market further from the city.
 
My hope is for the Market to remain untouched and as vibrant as always.
 

























 

Bibliography and further reading:
http://wheninvenice.com/portfolio/the-venetian-lion-explained/

 

Also posted in Documentary, Editorial, Italy, Market, Venice Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A trip to Istanbul – 2017

After a two years gap, we were back in Istanbul again for a week.
As always the town is warm and welcoming to visitors, and there is a lot to see beyond the traditional touristy locations.
These are few photos randomly taken during the trip, exploring the areas of Eminön, Balat and Fener.










































Thanks to artist and photographer Timurtaş Onan for taking me around and showing little hidden gems. 
His website www.timurtasonan.com/en/ and his art gallery in Istanbul at www.istanbul-fotografgalerisi.com/sanatci/

Also posted in Editorial, Istanbul, People at work, Portrait Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Bole Pirocanac, a pottery maker in Belgrade, Serbia

Bosko Petrovic, called Bole – Piroćanac, was born in 1940, and has been working since the age of twelve. As many pottery masters in Serbia, he comes from Pirot, eastern Serbia.
A specific aspect of the Pirot’s school of pottery making is that the potter is positioned next to the wheel (on the right hand side), whilst in other schools across the world potters turn the wheel that sits between their legs.
 
Bole tells us that he finished the school for the crafts at 16, and took him 4 additional years of apprenticeship to become a master or ‘Majstor’.
 
In 1956, the business he was working for had to close following the introduction of very large taxes. As many other skilful pottery masters from Pirot, he continued to get contracts across former Yugoslavia and used to work from spring to autumn.  In 1966 he opened his first own business in the outskirts of Belgrade, and he was advised to sell at the Kalenic market.
 
I asked Bole how he could still make pottery at his age. Forty years ago Bole began a daily program of one hour exercise before going to work, following a doctor’s advice.   Bole is, indeed, full of energy and strength, and he still works about four hours in the workshop every day.
 
Bole’s son, Dejan, has taken the workshop over in 1985, and invested in development and research of material and ways of firing the pots.
 
Bole and Dejan welcomed us at their workshop. After taking the photos we were offered Turkish coffee in beautiful and well-kept house garden. I asked Dejan, father of two daughters, if he has any apprentices keen to learn the art. He reckons that, as it takes about ten years to become a master, it is more convenient for young generation to continue studying at university.
 

 
The family business sells at the Kalenic market, in Belgrade.
 
Their website at http://www.grncar.rs/

 
 

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Time matters – A traditional watch repair shop in Belgrade

Looking for old craft places in Belgrade, I have passed by this little watch repair shop located in Stari Grad.

Petar Pavic, an expert in the art of repairing old mechanical watches, is the 3rd generation running this business having decided to take on the tradition started by his grandfather in 1948. He currently works with his mother, not present at the moment of our visit, who offers a complete watch restoration.

When I was invited behind the counter, my attention was caught by the amount of watches, small parts, working tool and cards scattered on the table. Petar, indeed, feels very comfortable in his own working environment, as he remembers where to find things and the content of each little container and drawer.

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During the short time I have spent in the shop, there was a constant stream of customers from all generations, and Petar’s approach to work was very responsive and rapid.

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Not only Petar is equipped to repair almost any type of mechanical watch, but he also creates the tools to make parts he needs to fix vintage and rare pieces. Some of the oldest watches he repaired were a 220 years old and made in the Netherlands, a 150 years old satin wall clock, Russian “Zvezda“ from the 2nd Word War. Wall and standing clocks are another of Petar’s passion, and he has some examples of “Gustav Becker” clocks from 1865. These days he finds very interesting the “Junghans” German clocks, often seen in Belgrade. Junghans, once a dominant force, was producing 100 clocks per day in 1870 and in 1903 was the largest clock maker in the world. In 1930, “Gustav Becker” a successful German clock maker well known in Paris, Sydney, Berlin and Amsterdam, merged with Junghans.

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Image above courtesy of Petar Pavic, a Zvezda watch inside

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Watch restauration demands a far more intimate knowledge of the techniques used in traditional horology, and a greater experience in the aesthetic and mechanical design used.

I learnt that nowadays it is not easy to come by a school that teaches the skills needed to repair watches, as it is cheaper to replace the all faulty part rather than fix it. This makes Petar’s job more unique and hard to learn, and makes his dedication and passion to this craft another example where traditional skills, knowledge and passion are transmitted across generation.

 

Časovničar Pavić,12a Cetinjska, Stari Grad, Beolgrade, Serbia

 

Francesco

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Traditional Bookbinding in Belgrade

Another great discovery in the heart of Belgrade, located in Gospodar Jevremova 63, Dorcol.

A family own boutique bookbinder (Knjigovezac), run by Dusan and his father Svetislav, offering traditional and contemporary bookbinding, preservation and conservation of printed material and box making. They use only mechanical machines, some over 100 years old which require minimal maintenance.

Svetislav took over this shop in 2003 from the previous owner, and we know that the business existed at this location from 1914, as an old receipt was recently brought by a customer.

Svetislav has a vast experience with conservation of manuscripts having worked for the University Library “Svetozar Markovic” and the National Library, and he was awarded in 2005 as best bookbinder by The Belgrade City Library.

 

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Slovakian book from 1861

He made bespoke tools to create leather binding for Serbian Cyrillic books from the 12th to 19th century, and uses his graphical skills to create templates for the book engraving in order to preserve precious collections.

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The reproduction of 12th century Serbian manuscript

Dusan and Svetislav had a number of important commissions such as the leather binding of “The Mountain Wreath” book and its box, a masterpiece of Montenegrin literature, written by poet Petar II Petrović-Njegoš.

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This is only a small part of the craft and art skills, as they are constantly requested to produce beautiful leather cases by embassies and private customers. Part of their work are cases for swords for various Head of States.

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I was fascinated by this traditional craft because of its importance in preserving the heritage, and I was delighted to see the traditional skills and knowledge being passes from father to son.

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KNJIGOVEZNICA VUKASOVIC ,Gospodar Jevremova 63, Dorcol, Belgrade, Serbia

 

Francesco

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International Photography Awards (IPA) 2015

Thanks to the International Photography Awards (IPA) for awarding me with three honorable mentions in the categories of Architecture, Deeper Perspective/Editorial and Lifestyle/People.

Here is my work (click on each image to see the photos on the IPA site)

Deeper Perspective & Editorial: “Revisiting a working place

IPA2015, Francesco Marchetti, Revisiting a working place

 

Lifestyle & People: “UK Seaside in Summer

 

IPA2015, Francesco Marchetti, UK Seaside in Summer

 

Architecture, Bridges & Cityscapes: “Belgrade Bridge

 

IPA2015, Francesco Marchetti, Belgrade Bridge

 

Francesco

 

 

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The last standing perfumery in Belgrade

“Smell is a patent wizard that transports you across the thousands of miles and all the years you have lived…” Helen Keller

During my visits to Belgrade, I often pass by this little boutique perfumery located in Kralja Petra 75. The vintage look of products and photos on display romantically tell the story of the shop from the old days, and made me curious about this place and its owner.

The business, run by Nenad Jovanov, originates back from the beginning of 1941, when Nenad’s uncle opened a perfumery shop, at the time called “Djurdjevak” (meaning Lilly of the Valley), and it was joined by Nenad’s father few years later. Since then the shop changed its name several times, to “L’Amour” and eventually “Sava” when the business moved to the current site in Dorcol.

Photos from Nenad’s family archive, ©Nenad Jovanov

As many other properties in the former Yugoslavia, the business was nationalised during the communist era but eventually was returned to the same family so they could continue to run it.

Decades ago the shop used to be advertised with the leaflet like this, created from the slide used as advertised material in the cinema before the movie would start. The original black and white slide has been hand painted and is still displayed in the shop window. This campaign was made in 1956.

Using leaflet was an alternative to the more expensive advertising on the radio, and the television was not used for this purpose at the time.

Nenad and his father have in common years of working experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having being employed by the same company, Saponia Osjek. Nenad too accepted an offer from Saponija following the father retirement as their Belgrade representative.

The crumbling of Yugoslavia led Nenad to return to work with his family in the perfumery ‘Sava’ from 1998, and since 2009 he is running the business on his own. Nenad tells us that his mother used to handle the payments quietly sitting in the corner of the shop overlooking the entrance door.

I was invited to assist in the preparation of some perfumes in the back shop labs, a small and intimate world of machinery and tools where Nenad uses his mastery to blend different solutions.

From Nenad’s expertise, dedication and passion, originates “Belgrade Nights”, a perfume created in two versions for ladies and gents, made for the Night of the Museum event (held once a year when the museums in Europe stay opened until midnight). Both fragrances take inspiration from the old trading days when ladies with a flowery scent, would await for the sailors smelling of spices as they were back from exotic locations.

The shop has barely changed since it was opened and it is a place of dear memories, with vintage photos of Nenad’s family on the wall, from old days prior to the World War II.


Nenad is a keen photographer, and very proud of a photograph (above) of his parents he has taken as a young boy

Nenad photographed approximately ten years ago (above) ©Nenad Jovanov

 

A constant stream of clients pays a visit to this shop daily. Some for a few drops of valuable perfume and handmade face creams, others for advice whether their favourite scent could still be produced here. It is a pampering experience that puts a smile on people faces. Of course no-one is going to walk out from “Sava” without begin seduced by some new fragrances, so I bought “Belgrade Nights” for myself.

The perfumery is in Kralja Petra 75, Belgrade

Thanks to Vesna for translating and Nenad for providing some of the photos from the personal family archive.

More information about “Sava”, on the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/parfemisava

 

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