Tag Archives: people

Il Gioco del Ponte, Pisa, 2019

Commonly known for the Piazza dei Miracoli and The Leaning Tower, Pisa remains a town rich in culture, historical sites, and traditions. The month of June offers a number of events, such as the “Luminara”, the “Regatta” and the “Battle on the Bridge”, when thousands of people come to overcrowd the southern and norther banks of the river Arno, called “Lungarni”.

The Battle, which sees several neighbourhoods, organised in two main coalitions, the southern side of the river, or “Mezzogiorno”, and norther part, or “Tramontana”, and evokes medieval battlefields among factions in Pisa. The first edition of the game took place in 1568. 

The overall game is divided into several stages. The historical parade, the formal opening of the battle, the challenges made by the ambassadors and the battle itself. The most picturesque part of the events are the historical parades, which start simultaneously on both sides of the river.

The sunset light is gentle on the beautiful medieval costumes. The Pisans have arrived in great numbers, sitting and standing on the parapets along the Arno. Everything is well organised for a family-oriented event. The “Gioco del Ponte” begins under the sound of the troops marching and drumming along the Lungarni. 

I have chosen to follow the “Tramontana” coalitions as the troops pass by the popular street of “Borgo Stretto”, one of the most characteristic and picturesque sites at the heart of Pisa, with coffees, restaurants and the authentic fruit market. The Borgo Stretto is where the social life happens, where the university night life takes place, where curious tourists are willing to discover the town beyond the Duomo, where to enjoy the  stunning sunset on the Lungarno. 

The overall historical parade consists of twelve teams, each one representing a different faction of Pisa. Each has its own motto, costume, drummers, warriors, and captain. They walk by the Arno to finally gather at the opposite side of the main bridge or “Ponte di Mezzo”, where the battle will begin. From there, a “challenge” is made deciding which team is going to fight next. In return, the ambassador from the opposite collation will announce the opposing team.

The actual battle happens in the middle of the bridge, where rival teams compete to “conquer” the bridge by pushing against each other a special trolley which moves on the track. The winning team is the one who makes the other team retreat, by triggering a flag at the end.

As in the medieval battlefields the troops needed to be highly trained, so are the man pushing the trolley. Physical strength alone is not enough to succeed. Mental preparation and a strategy under the command of a team captain are needed to win a battle. In the hierarchical organisation of the game, the captain is the charismatic leader the team relies on. Some have been leading a team for many years collecting memorable victories.

Six battles might not seem a lot, however a single encounter might last for many minutes of exhausting and strategic push-retreat-push. This was the case this year with the last fight, lasting for about twenty minutes, which sees the strongest teams from both sides. The awaiting during the push is nerve wrecking for the supporters on both sides, as the trolley does not seem to move to any directions. Supporters’ cheering blends with the noise of the drums. 
A last final push and the overall victory this year goes to Tramontana. As the game is over, supporters pour out to the streets to celebrate with the winning coalition.

The Gioco del Ponte is a source of great pride in Pisa, and it is supported by the “Amici del Gioco del Ponte” association, committed to support the game with awards linked to the best roles and costumes.

It is much more that a game. It is love, respect and celebration for the Republic that Pisa once was. The town was a power in the Mediterranean at the time of the Maritime Republics. Not by chance, the overall motto of the Gioco is “Vinca Tramontana o vinca Mezzogiorno, sempre Pisa vincera’“ (translates like – whoever wins between Tramontana and Mezzogiorno, Pisa will always win). The greatness of Pisa always win. 

 

Resources: 
Amici del Gioco del Ponte – link in English: 
http://www.giocodelpontedipisa.it/pisa-battle-on-the-bridge.php 

Thanks to the Comune di Pisa for the support I have received to produce this work. 

Posted in Documentary, Editorial, Event, Italy, People, Pisa, Traditions, Travel Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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.

Posted in Africa, Documentary, Editorial, Market, People, People at work, Travel Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL 2018

A few shots from The Notting Hill Carnival. The Jouvert,  the Family day under a pouring rain, and the final parade day…

 

 

Posted in Carnival, Documentary, Editorial, Festival, London, People, The Notting Hill Carnival Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

“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.
 

 





















 
 

Posted in Documentary, Editorial, Italy, Market, Travel Photography, Venice Also 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/

Posted in Editorial, Istanbul, People at work, Portrait, Travel Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL 2017

An emotional Notting Hill Carnival this year, marked by poignant tributes to those who lost their life in the Grenfell tragedy. Nevertheless, it was a time to put aside the sadness and celebrate the street party. Once again, I have witnessed two days of amazing costumes and colours, energy and madness from the carnival goers.

 
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Posted in Carnival, Documentary, Event, London, The Notting Hill Carnival Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

GRAN PRIX DE PARIS (PX3) 2017

Thanks to the Grand Prix De Paris (PX3) for awarding me with an honorable mentions in the categories of Book Proposal (series Only) / People, for my body of work about art watchers.

Here is my work (click on each image to see the photos on the PX3 site)

The Art of Spectating - PX3 2017

For those who wish to see more material from this series, there is a gallery available on this website here.

 

Posted in Awards, PX3 Also 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/

 
 

Posted in Documentary, Editorial, People at work, Portrait, Serbia, Travel Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL 2016

 

This year is celebrating the 50th year of the Notting Hill Carnival.
As always, the largest street party in Europe is about people energy, odd characters, the beautiful costumes and choreography from the UK leading samba schools.

 

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Bye bye and see you again next year!!!

Posted in Carnival, Event, Festival, London, The Notting Hill Carnival Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

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

Posted in Belgrade, People at work, Portrait, Serbia, Travel Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |