Books' Section

Life is revolving and offering presents; Summer is closer; work-outs are fun; racing will start next month.
I travel, create, think, read, spend great time with my brother David and my girlfriend Stephanie, either with one or the other or all together.

I decided that I will soon include a 'Books' section somewhere, probably as sub page in the 'Read Me' one.
It'll be a space where I might write a review, or thoughts, or opinion on a book, or connect to more philosophical, or practical, topics after being spurred by reading something.

The book I am currently reading is called Voyage: A Novel of 1896, by Sterling Hayden and first published in 1976.

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The Pink City of Morocco, the Daughter of the Desert

Marrakesh has many nicknames. Two are in the title.
The first one, less known (the usual one is 'The Red City' due to some of its buildings' color) refers to the actual color of virtually every building in town, even new construction, due to the color of the plaster. The pink color is never too light and never too solid. It's soft if the sun doesn't shine and it's warm and full if hit by sunlight.
The second nickname is romantic and recalls images in my mind now that I visited it.

I am happy I visited a new city. I am happy I visited a new country. I am happy I visited a new continent.
But this is not just to tick some boxes. I am happy because I've extensively traveled Europe and the USA, and therefore nothing ever seemed extremely different from something I have visited before. I love Europe and the USA, but I am happy I visited something that is out of anything that can have familiar view.

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Cooking is Culture

Cooking is beautiful and fun. It's satisfying, fulfilling, and entertaining. It's social time, or private, or reflective. It can be quick or slow. For any event or no event.
I can keep going so I will stop here.

I love cooking and I do it virtually every day. I am no master chef, but I learn little things all the time and I try to keep learning from anywhere.
The main source of my learning comes from my mother, who has been cooking for her entire life, she is exceptionally good, she follows traditional recipes but she is extremely creative as well. I think she has the perfect mix because she made hers the recipes from her grandparents, so now she has the experience, and the wits, of tweaking them as she finds appropriate, in an elegant and interesting way.

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Never Enough Books

I love books. I love reading.
They make me dream, spur my creativity, travel with my imagination - or give inputs for actual travels.

Books have been part of my life since I was born. The first adult book I've read by myself was 'The Tigers of Mompracem', from Italian writer Emilio Salgari. I will never forget it. The protagonist, Sandokan, is a pirate-hero, gentleman, adventurous, with solid moral principles but a rebellious heart.
What a better way to start my independent reading life than this?

My brother has a list of all the books he has ever read. that would have been a good idea, I would have done it too, thinking about it now.
But, I read a lot nevertheless.

I currently just finished By Night Under the Stone Bridge (1952 in German) by writer Leo Perutz.
The book is a collection of stories, set in Prague in the 16th century. They are bound together by common characters, active or just mentioned in the different stories, but also by both magical and actual historic events, also either just mentioned or actively happening.
The book, a suggestion from my brother David, who reads even more than me, became one of my favorite and I discovered the theme of the historic Mitteleuropa.

I am not catching up with the last few National Geographic issues (which I had in the US and finally got here with girlfriend Stephanie), but I am always reading a book and a magazine at the same time, therefore I am going to start another book tonight or tomorrow night.

What book have you last read? What books do you suggest me?

Adventures to Come

I have one adventure per month starting in March. Exciting!
Stephanie and I have idea, events, opportunities, wishes, dreams we want to follow, chase, seek and create. We have a nice list of destinations and trips ahead.

First of all, and adventure, for me, is linked to traveling, but other exciting things are happening at the same time.
Sonderers is going live on March 1st, for example! The team is working hard and we are enjoying it quite a bit. I know I do.
David keeps writing and might have an interesting new things happening soon... but let's wait to see if it's confirmed.
Stephanie is creating and networking and working a lot and she has some pretty cool things coming up too, both on her personal side and with her Beauty Archaeology.

But going back to traveling... well well well, I am stoked to think of what is coming next!
Morocco in March!
Ireland or Scotland in April!
Malta in may!
Jerusalem in June!
These are adventure that are exciting on a personal level and they will bring great nw content for my photography.

Also, I would like to have a peculiar side for each trip.
Example, in March in Morocco we'll be hosted by our friend Ahmed.
In Jerusalem, I'll go around with my brother who used to live there, as well as I would like a specific spiritual and physical endeavor.
I have few ideas, and I'll post them when the time is ripe, which means before or after or while I am traveling.

I am particularly stoked because most of the times I will be traveling with somebody who has lived the place and I will see the more personal, original side of the place and the people.

Length of Time

Life is going very well in Nottingham and my girlfriend Stephanie is enjoying her stay more and more, as you can see from her updates too.
My brother David was here over the week-end and we had a great time training together, talking and walking.
Work is well and busy and I am learning every day. We had a deadline last week and we have a big deadline this coming Friday, but we are ready for it!

Stephanie and I will go to Newstead Abbey the next week-end, if the weather is nice.
Newstead Abbey is the place I went few weeks ago with my brother and my mother, the former residence of Lord Byron.
I've written about it last time but I wanted to linger a little longer on it.

This place is magical for the many layers that exist at the same time in the same place in an organic and deep bond.
I want to draw your attention on how these layers are there at the same time, place and in such depth because year after year, decades after decades, centuries after centuries, people have loved, lived, died there.
This is one of the reasons for which I love history and I studies historic preservation at the University. What makes such place unrepeatable, unmatchable is the very overlaying of countless events, both physical and abstract. This place can exist only here and nowhere else in the world.
Learning about Newstead Abbey is diving into a chest of dreams - good or bad, happy or sad, important or frivolous.
Layer over layer, story after story, it gets more solid and its aura is more and more powerful.

Even just visiting Newstead Abbey leaves a mark, because every visitor helps preserve this fascinating historical place.
Different people should be part of it in the future, as different people have been part of it in the past.
Different people - from monks to poets, to gardeners, to servants, to lords, to visitors.
Different lives - a life of prayer, of writing, of working, of travelers.
Different dreams, thoughts, words, actions.
Every one of these left their steps, their thumbprints, their sweat, their blood, their tears, their laughs, their dreams.

And everything is linked by one thread, untouchable yet ever present. Time.

Life Meeting Point

My return to Nottingham has been busy, in a good way.
After spending the holidays at home in Italy, I had few days at home in Nottingham; then my mother and my brother came to visit; then I had few days by myself; then my girlfriend Stephanie arrived (at last!).
On top of that, I had important deadlines at work.
Also, of course, I went back training and this week I am basically back to full regimen.
The first two weeks back to England have been great!

A great moment of the time I had with my family has been the visit to Newstead Abbey.
Newstead Abbey (my museum entry photo here) was a former priory which had been destroyed by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. part of it had been saved because it was sold to a private person.
That private person was an ancestor of famed Lord Byron.

Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron) was a poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement.
He couldn't live, let alone restore, the huge building, but perhaps that is what kept the interest of it, with its run down parts.
The building (the former priory) is the standing building that is left, while the actual church has only the front facade left.
The building is interesting under any aspect, from some faulted ceilings, to a long corridor, to the pretty artisan details, such as the doors' handles, which are all carved out of wood.
The big estate is very interesting too, with secret corners, a Japanese garden, three vast water bodies, and more. It is fascinating and unique, diverse and charming - like what they said its owner was.
Lord Byron was, for what they say, beautiful, eccentric, intelligent and literate.

At Newstead Abbey, literature, history, architecture, religion, nature all meet in one place, in an organic, elegant, magical way.

I want to visit more places like this, more places that have more than one deep layer to it, and have interesting stories that you can find only in that very place.

Due Facce della Stessa Medaglia

Traveling and reading are two sides of the same coin, as we say in Italy (due facce della stessa medaglia).
One action specifically makes your body travel, the other one your mind. They are completely different things, yet linked in the strongest way.
Not long ago I've written about how writing and literature can be deeply similar and connected.
Both require will, passion, interest, time.

Reading can be traveling, with your mind, heart and dreams - traveling can correspond to reading people, places, landscapes.
Both need direct experience, but it doesn't matter how that happens.
Paying attention helps, but it's not definitive. Natural is always better. Sometimes I want to but can't quite do it; other times it just happens, everything flows through my senses and I don't even notice until later.
The highest emotions and deepest experiences happen when they are unexpected.

These happen when you travel, and when you read.
Your mind is the most powerful element for your dreams, either through traveling or reading.

You are never alone with a book.

Eng of Year Thoughts - II

2015 has been particularly full of changes, twists, moves, travel, events for me.
I had a lot of races. I traveled the Pacific North West a lot, the West Coast of North America, and Italy and England a bit.
I've started and finished photography and writing courses. I've started the Dreams' Chest and I've been working on Sonderers.
I moved continents and countries, changed job (staying in architecture) and raced different races than my usual.
My back to be near my brother David and my family, and my relationship with Stephanie is more intimate and getting better and more exciting by the day.

What a year!

Now, I've been planning my races calendar for 2016 - I will have, at least, other 10, between swim races and obstacle runs. I've already registered to the Nottingham's Survival of the Fittest in October, and I am aiming for the British Masters National Championships, but there are many other races, big or small, than I am going to do.
I will probably want to do at least, and probably not more than, one road run-only race, just to see how I compare to my only other race of that type a couple of years ago, the Race of the Roses.
I will also probably want to do one trail run in order to, again, compare with the last two years results.

I am also generally planning my trips around Europe my girlfriend and I want to do, in no particular order here mentioned: France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Malta, Israel.
In some we'll be with my brother David, in others it'll be the two of us.

Sonderers launch is getting closer and closer! I'm very excited! I am also working on a rough sketch of the logo, which will probably be developed by my friend Matteo for the professional final version.
I like working on graphics, graphic design and that kind of things. But not being an expert in it, it takes me longer time and I probably don't know of tricks and tools that I could use but that I don't know of.

This is the last blog post of 2015! It seems that my website has been on for a long time, but it has been on just over six months!

I will also be writing more: not only for Sonderers, but I've already registered and will start my Advanced Travel Writing with Matador!

Traveling, creating, growing, racing.
Fun, relax, adrenaline, reflection.
Brother, family, girlfriend.

Un passo indietro, poi sempre avanti.

End of Year Thoughts

The Sonderers are working hard because in January we are going to go live!

All of us write will participate in articles, but I am happy to be involved in the photography aspect of the project, because my focus and my strength is in photography.
I will definitely be issuing photo essays but I do like writing, so what I will be publishing will depend on the inspiration ad the material I have.

I haven't moved too much from September to now (which is only four months) but I have a lot of travel plans for the first part of next year!
Many trips will be shorter ones, long-weekends type of thing. Since I am back to Europe, it's easy to find deals and travel across the continent - and to Africa or the Middle east too, why not - in few hours.
France, Israel are just two on the list. I won't be jumping around like a pinball, but I'll move a bit and I also will be having some trips within England, even just in the Midlands.
The trips in England will be sports related too, because I plan to compete, race even more next year!

In 2015 I think I had up to 10 races, but they were mostly in Summer or late Spring.
Next year I am going to compete year long and I am going to have pool swim races again. Last year I had only one (if) and I miss them. Plus, they add one more reason to travel to new places!

I like to write and think of what I am leaving behind, while I keep creative, active, productive - I keep dreaming!

Un passo indietro, poi sempre avanti.

End of Autumn

Autumn is at its end and it has been an extremely busy, creative and interesting period.

My new life in Nottingham is going on very well, both in personal life and on work - where people are nice, energetic, fun and projects make me learn a lot!
I am almost on a regular and full routine for my work-out schedule and before the end of the year I am going to register to quite a few races, both in swimming and obstacle runs.

I like seasons and I liked this Autumn here in England.
Even more than usual I've been observing patterns and colors in Nature. The lines created but leaf-less trees; the carpet of red, or yellow, or brown leaves on the dark green grass; the pine trees' needles on the sidewalk. What a pleasure!
I will eventually have a photo album about it, too. One more things to do, but that's why it's exciting.

On we go, Winter is coming and I will hopefully see some snow!

Tappeto di Foglie

Sonderers!

I've been absent for a while but I am now (more or less) back.
I am in a new city, Nottingham, with a new job, in a new apartment! Everything is going well but I am still settling in. I am gone most of the day and the apartment is still a bit a mess.... but at least, I am cooking again.

One thing that I am glad is keeping me busy is the new project I am working on with a special, passionate and interesting team: Sonderers Travel Magazine!

Sonderers is an online travel magazine that focuses on the human aspects of traveling. Any human aspect.
There are innumerable themes we can write on and countless creative ideas for both articles, website, anything that has to do with this publication.

We are at the early stages and the website, social media and first publications are just now taking forms and, one after the other, actively coming online.

Sonder On!

Chi Ben Comincia, È a Metà dell'Opera

I started my new job in Nottingham today!
I am an architect. I studied architecture both for my Bachelor and for my Masters.
I move back to the Old Continent, to the United Kingdom, and I am now working in Nottingham and soon I'll have a new apartment here in town, near the Castle.

I know the city a little bit because my brother used to live here. He is not here anymore but the irony is that now I moved here.

The city seems lively and busy, and it seems a little bit more sunny than York, too.
My office is in the center and I can walk everywhere, or bike, when my bike will arrive from the US (yes, I am shipping my 1970s old steelframe bike from Oregon).

In Italian we say 'Chi ben comincia, è a metà dell'opera.', which translates as 'Those who well start, are halfway done.'
Well, today's start was great therefore I have a great feeling about my new job! Great energy, cool projects, young studio and the right position.

I am exploring the center by walking around and by going to new gyms. That makes me see the city and the surroundings of where I am going to spend most of my time.

There is a lot to explore in Nottinghamshire, but I am going tow wait for my girlfriend Stephanie to arrive.

By they way, my brother's birthday is on Wednesday! He is going to come here and I am taking him out for dinner.
He hasn't been here for a while so it's going to be almost as a flashback to be here with him, like when I was coming to visit him years ago.
Hopefully it'll be nice again - today the sun was peeking out of the clouds.

On we go with a new chapter of my life!

Aye! 20 mins walk from my new apartment, or my office!

Aye! 20 mins walk from my new apartment, or my office!

Next step - order!

I am re-happy to re-announce that the order section of my website is now live!
This is an important step for one main reason: it was fun organizing, planning, imagining, creating new things!
I like creating for the sake of creating!
This time I did something new because, as simple as it is, I laid out a "business plan" with timing, products, strategies. It's a new field for me, therefore I am happy I reached this goal.

Every week there is going to be something new, meaning, a product. I started off with single prints, and bit by bit I am going to add compositions and other things (wait and see!).
and because every week there is a new product, besides being in holidays season of course, there is going to be a new promo code!

The current promo code is linked to Thanksgiving, one of the biggest holidays in the United States.
The promo code is DCTG15 .
Enjoy!

City of Lights, City of Faces

I just spent two days in Paris. I haven't been there in almost five years and it was nice to go back. As much as it is one of the most visited capitals in the world and I probably wouldn't want to live there (if I had the means), the fame and hype are deserved.

I did visit some museums and the Sainte Chapelle, but I wanted to enjoy the city and the streets too, so I walked several hours a day. And the weather helped because it was sunny and warm (about 18°C, or 65°F). Fantastic!

There weren't too many tourists around (for Paris standards) and I really enjoyed both the streets, the alleys and the parks. Food was very good, we went to restaurants were we were among the few, or the only ones, speaking English. And I got to practice my French!

I was interested in faces this time. Not people's faces, but statues and artwork ones. Since there is so much quality artwork, what a variety there is! From the famous Notre Dame's gargoyles, to the Sainte Chapelle's faces, to the statues in the Tuileries Gardens.

They call Paris the City of Lights. But it can as well be a City of Faces. This art and these faces are a historical cross section of the city and the countryas much as its architecture.

To The Lightouse

I finished reading To The Lighthouse (1927) by Virginia Woolf. Writer and intellectual, she was one of the leading modernists of the twentieth century.

The book has many themes and elements in common with traveling and travel writing: stream of consciousness; the (inner) journey has more attention than the destination per se; human experience of time; the issue of perception, or the subjectivity of perception.

It is important to keep in mind that the book also has a strong difference, because it follows and extends James Joyce’s modernist tradition for which the plot is secondary to its philosophical introspection. In travel writing, the experience has the most importance, and experience means first-hand, practical contact.

The book and its genre are not the type of books I would normally read, because I am generally not into the stream of consciousness readings, although this book is one of the key works for such literary technique among literary modernism.

The lack of an omniscient voice means there is no real guide throughout the story. Everything reaches the reader through an extremely strong filter, which is the person of which thoughts we are reading. Everything is ambiguous.

Virginia Woolf is an extraordinary writer since the book seemed (and is) interesting, I wanted to try something new. That’s how we learn and discover new things!

I want to make a personal consideration of the second chapter of the second (of three) section of the book, Time Passes, since I found it as one of the most exquisite pieces of XIX century literature I have ever read.

It describes the darkness and the night creeping in the house and engulfing everything. This passage gives a sense of time quickly running away, a sense of cold and absence.

“If plot means dealings among the characters, there is no real progression of plot here, but, at the same time, what plot is grander or more essential than time passing?” (said Maggie Shipstead).

In this case the statement is spot on, because the greatest upheavals happen when the story has this fast-forward.  It is also the only part of the book that has an omniscient narrator. A closer view, in medias res, of how things have changed is given by one character who is the caretaker of the house of for the owners since the beginning, Mrs. McNab.

The narration through an omniscient entity is in stark contrast with the rest. It’s dry if not distorted because being omniscient also puts the point of view away from feeling a situation.

Or is it?

I chose to write this personal overview of this passage because I found the description of the darkness seeping through every fissure, every crack, around every object and every person feels real.

The all-encompassing drenching of darkness is daunting from the very first lines. It’s cold but not cruel. It simply is. Suddenly and silently everything stops being, and darkness takes place. It is almost accepted. There might be few, unconscious futile attempts of rebellion – “Sometimes a hand was raised (…) ” – but it looks like a hand raised by a person drowning in an unseen tsunami wave: without even realizing what is happening, it’s all over.

There is much more that could be said about this part, but I was stuck by the description of the moving night and the sensations it engaged in me.

I think when that happens, it is really one of the highest achievements of a literary piece.


To The Lighthouse, Part II - Time Passes, Chapter 2

So with the lamps all put out, the moon sunk, and a thin rain drumming on the roof a downpouring of immense darkness began. Nothing, it seemed, could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness which, creeping in at keyholes and crevices, stole round window blinds, came into bedrooms, swallowed up here a jug and basin, there a bowl of red and yellow dahlias, there the sharp edges and firm bulk of a chest of drawers. Not only was furniture confounded; there was scarcely anything left of body or mind by which one could say, “This is he” or “This is she.” Sometimes a hand was raised as if to clutch something or ward off something, or somebody groaned, or somebody laughed aloud as if sharing a joke with nothingness.

Nothing stirred in the drawing-room or in the dining-room or on the staircase. Only through the rusty hinges and swollen sea-moistened woodwork certain airs, detached from the body of the wind (the house was ramshackle after all) crept round corners and ventured indoors. Almost one might imagine them, as they entered the drawing-room questioning and wondering, toying with the flap of hanging wall-paper, asking, would it hang much longer, when would it fall? Then smoothly brushing the walls, they passed on musingly as if asking the red and yellow roses on the wall-paper whether they would fade, and questioning (gently, for there was time at their disposal) the torn letters in the wastepaper basket, the flowers, the books, all of which were now open to them and asking, Were they allies? Were they enemies? How long would they endure?

So some random light directing them with its pale footfall upon stair and mat, from some uncovered star, or wandering ship, or the Lighthouse even, with its pale footfall upon stair and mat, the little airs mounted the staircase and nosed round bedroom doors. But here surely, they must cease. Whatever else may perish and disappear, what lies here is steadfast. Here one might say to those sliding lights, those fumbling airs that breathe and bend over the bed itself, here you can neither touch nor destroy. Upon which, wearily, ghostlily, as if they had feather-light fingers and the light persistency of feathers, they would look, once, on the shut eyes, and the loosely clasping fingers, and fold their garments wearily and disappear. And so, nosing, rubbing, they went to the window on the staircase, to the servants’ bedrooms, to the boxes in the attics; descending, blanched the apples on the dining-room table, fumbled the petals of roses, tried the picture on the easel, brushed the mat and blew a little sand along the floor. At length, desisting, all ceased together, gathered together, all sighed together; all together gave off an aimless gust of lamentation to which some door in the kitchen replied; swung wide; admitted nothing; and slammed to.

[Here Mr. Carmichael, who was reading Virgil, blew out his candle. It was past midnight.]

To The Lightouse

Old School Market

Sunday was my last full day in London for this period and Stephanie and I went to the Flower Market on Columbia Road. What a beautiful place!

The Flower Market is an old school market in East End right outside the City in Shoreditch. Columbia Road, West of Brick Lane, is a beautiful, corky and artisty road full of little shops, from perfume shops to artists' studios to cake shops and bars.

All of these are open during the market, so you have the shops open on the sides and the vendors' stalls on both sides of the road (no need to say, the road is closed to motorized traffic). There are a few musicians playing on the street in an empty spot between vendors.

The street is packed with people who watch and buy, but it's not noisy. The flowers are beautiful and very perfumed and there are so many types, from succulents to plants to flowers to spices!

The coolest thing are the old school vendors. Everywhere you can hear the calls and yelling about prices and deals and talking about what they have. Some engage with people and others try to talk to everybody.

We spent about two hours and a half there, it was really nice and interesting. The sun made everything look even better and made the experience even more pleasant.

There were foreigners but it looked like most people were locals (or from the UK in general).

Fantastic!

Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Last Saturday I visited the Kew Gardens in west London, south of the river. What a special place!

The park is beautiful and extremely well kept. It is big and has a lot of variety of trees and plants, greenhouses and conservation areas. It is extremely clean and neat. We also went when apparently there were very few people, so we enjoyed the park even more and we were by ourselves in certain moments.

We booked online and we saved few pounds. There is the metro stop and the neighborhood is really really nice!

I like the fact that there were many different trees but there were may of the different species grouped together creating little nooks and areas different from one another, yet organically flowing from one to the other.

There are ponds and little bodies of water, few different buildings, paths, endless grass, birds, flowers, a rose garden, greenhouses, tropical plants and more!

It's absolutely a destination to go alone, with your partner or spouse, with your family, with your children, to have a walk, run, stroll, read.

I think the colors were beautiful because Autumn started yet wasn't everywhere, so the colors ranged from dark green to light yellow and anything in between!

I can just imagine what it looks like in full Autumn or in full Spring!

It is beautiful, magical destination and I highly recommend it.

Kew Gardens London England UK