Tag Archives: Traditions

THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL 2019

It has been the hottest Carnival ever, with temperatures above 30 degree.
More than just a street party, the Carnival was first held in 1959 in response to a series of racist attacks and rioting that spread in west London. The Carnival was put together to celebrate of the local community, people from the Caribbean coming to London in search of opportunities.
 
As always, there is a lot of fun, great energy and positive vibes, music and street food, beautiful costumes and dance from the London samba schools.

Once again, a great job from the Notting Hill Carnival organisers. https://www.facebook.com/NHCarnivalLDN/

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Posted in Culture, Documentary, Editorial, Event, London, People, The Notting Hill Carnival, Traditions Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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. 

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

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 Mass. 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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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.

 watch repair

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