Sep 122010
 

Let’s say it was a typical Sunday. I was lazy and didn’t even go out to take pictures. Here is another one from Italy, again from Colonnata, the small village in the mountains of Carrara, where we ate that wonderfully tender white bacon called Lardo di Colonnata.

The Song of the Day is “Simple Things” by Paolo Nutini. In “1068 – Simple Things” I already used that title, but then the Song was by The Crash. Here’s Paolo Nutini on YouTube. Despite his Italian name he is a Scotsman, and despite his young age of 20 at the time when the album was released, he is an excellent singer, backed by excellent musicians. Amazing!

Jul 202010
 

Having totally given up makes things so much easier 🙂

This is another image from Italy. It’s not Liguria but neighboring Toscana. It’s been taken in the small village of Colonnata, situated in the mountains above Carrara. See “1350 – The Marvel Of Marble” for some more images. I really like that image and I guess it will end up in the book.

As to having given up, well, this does not make me stop processing images from Italy. Not at all. I still work on them, every day I add some, some will go into the book, some will not, and what really happens is, that it occupies me, keeps me from photographing. I can’t help it, the way I currently work, I am much faster at photographing than I can ever process the images. Thus, at the moment I have also given up upon my goal of publishing photos taken at the same day. This is not permanent, I’ll return to the previous régime, but unfortunately my day has only 24 hours, some of them I like to sleep and some I have to work. Hope you understand 🙂

This is the post for Sunday, and I had another reason for not taking any pictures: Sunday we had rain. Oh dear, how I enjoyed the drop in temperatures by almost 20 degrees Celsius! Today, Monday, it was still relatively cool, but by Thursday we’re supposed to be back at up to 36 degrees Celsius again.

The Song of the Day is the Stranglers classic “Hanging Around“, interpreted by Hazel O’Connor on her 1980 album “Cover Plus”. Hear it on YouTube.

1350 – The Marvel Of Marble

 Nikon 70-300 VR, Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC  Comments Off on 1350 – The Marvel Of Marble
Jul 012010
 

Thursday we began with a museum in La Spezia‘s Castello San Giorgio. They have one of the two biggest collections of pre-historic “statue stele” in Liguria, most of them having been found in the region of Luni. Photographing the collection was forbidden, of course I did, but please understand that I don’t want to post the images here.

La Spezia is an ugly city with a population of roughly 100,000. There is much heavy industry, an enormous caloric power plant, a military harbor and lots of military everywhere. I suppose the city has been bombed heavily during World War II, at least that’s the impression.

After a short odyssey up the hill to the castle/museum (did it ever occur to you that your blind spot for direction signs only goes away after you have found your target?) and the actual visit, we quickly left for San Terenzo south along the coast (that’s where I took the images of the arrows), and then via Lerici and Marina di Carrara to our main destination: Carrara, home of marble, from ancient times to distant future.

Along the way I spotted the thing on the picture to the left. I have no idea what it is. Remotely it reminds me of Orthanc, though I admit, it is not of black stone but of rusty iron.

Whatever. Carrara was our destination, a small town at the foot of a mountain consisting wholly of marble, and not just any marble, no, the purest and most beautiful marble in the world, quasi the all-time reference of what marble is supposed to be.

The quarries in the mountains above Carrara number by the hundreds, and when you take the winding road, that is used today for transporting the blocks by truck (as opposed to using sledges and ox-carts from Roman times until only 150 years ago), you get the sincere impression, that they are systematically taking apart the whole mountain.

And still, considering the thousands of years, even taking into account the acceleration of the past century, there is so much left, it’s hard to imagine an end to this treasure.

Pretty much at the highest point of the road, at least the highest point that is accessible to the general public, there is a marble museum, a shop and an underground mine that you can visit. We didn’t, we even skipped the museum, but we bought a mortar and pestle 🙂

The interesting thing in Carrara is, that every quarry looks exactly as if the mountain consisted of nothing but marble. It even may, but then the sheer number of quarries is puzzling. It looks like a whole army of ants trying to eat a mountain, from all sides, chaotic, seemingly without system or order. It’s fascinating.

And in the middle of all that, a village. Colonnata, home to the cavatori, citadell of anarchism, home of the famous Lardo di Colonnata, a white bacon, cured with rosemary in troughs of pure marble.

It’s delicious. Not as salty as bacon is here in Austria, and it is served warm on toasted bread. While we ate, I took the image of the stairs, of course constructed from marble as well.

In fact, the whole village is made of marble. There is a big monument dedicated to “Al Cavatore”, and behind it a small church, all made of marble, and there are these two (and maybe more) inscriptions:

Well, here in the mountains, in this village, then so far off of any city, they found a retreat.

Unlike communism, anarchism never could muster broad support. It’s in its principle, I guess. Not enough organization, too much individualism. Well, having just finished Heinlein’s “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”, those marble plates, commemorating the “anarchist companions, fallen on the road to freedom”, somehow touched me deeply.

The image of the truck and the building was made up at the highest point of the street, where the marble museum and the shop are.

The image to the left is an HDR, made from five bracketed exposures. The sun was already low when we stopped at the cemetery, and without HDR, the valley would have been in deep shadows.

Speaking of the cemetery, this is extremely impressive as well. It was the wrong time of the day, I suppose I should be there in the morning, no later than noon, depending on the time of the year. I did not go in, it would have taken me at least an hour, it was already late, light was bad and we had a long way back to Sestri Levante.

I just made a series of images from the other side of the valley, six exposures taken with the Nikon 70-300 VR, and then stitched in Photoshop to this panorama. The “thumbnail” links to an image of 4181 x 768 pixels, the original is 14069 x 2584 pixels. Hmm … I really should try to print it 🙂

The Song of the Day is a cheap pun: Gershwin’s “Too Marvelous for Words“, interpreted by Frank Sinatra. I have it on “Concepts”, this collection of songs that I bought for, I don’t know what, five Euros? May have been a mistake on Amazon’s side, because some days later it was back to $180 🙂

YouTube has the song in a version seemingly taken from a TV show.

Hmm … did I promise a shorter post in the last post? Guess I did. Maybe next time 😀