Though I was never blessed with the gift of creativity I have been fortunate in my life to meet and be surrounded by creative people. People of incredible talent – singers, dancers, actors, artists, and writers – who have allowed me to view and participate as a spectator in their work.
My friend Cindi Emond, in Rome, is one of those creative people whose path has crossed with mine. She is an exceptional photographer and her life as an expat living in Italy and her travels have give her the opportunity to capture images from around the world. Her most recent series centred on Rome and were taken on March 11, 2020 – the day before total lock down. Several of them were published by Deutsche Welle including this touching photo of a young priest at the barrier closing off an empty St Peter’s Square.
It captures, for me at least, not just the startling emptiness of a place that should be bustling with people but also a feeling of the loneliness of isolation. The young priest may be deep in thought or perhaps he is praying. One can only hope that the prayer he may be offering up is answered.
The word for April 30 is: Photography /fəˈtäɡrəfē/: [noun] The art or practice of taking and processing photographs. From the Greek: photos (ϕοτοσ), light, and graphos (γραοσ), writing, delineation, or painting. Literally: Painting with light. Although ‘heliography’, ‘photogeny’, and ‘daguerreotypy’, were first used as alternatives, ‘photography’ eventually gained universal precedence as the preferred name. .
Every Tuesday afternoon I head over to Trastevere for an appointment. Trastevere literally mean “across the Tiber” and encompasses a large area south of the Vatican on the west bank of the river. The northern area of the Rioni (Rome proper is divided into 22 districts or Rioni, Trastevere being number 8) is a warren of cobblestoned streets, alleyways, old palazzi, palazetti, churches and other buildings some dating back to the 12th century. It’s also a beehive of trattorie, bars and trendy clubs some catering chiefly to tourists and others to the better heeled youth of the area.
I’m not working these days so I often leave a bit early, have a coffee at a bar just off the Lungotevere – I don’t even have to order now just wave at Cisco, the barman, and my Caffè macchiato is made – and wander around the back streets. It is still an area I am not all that familiar with and I only get over there on those Tuesday jaunts. It’s odd, but I think only normal, how once you get settled in a city you tend not to leave your own area most of the time. So Trastevere is mostly uncharted territory to this stranger from the Upper East side.
This past Tuesday as I was approaching the Piazza de’Mercanti I noticed this gentleman unloading his truck. Firewood? In the middle of Rome? Why would he be unloading firewood? Sure our wealthy neighbours on the ground floor have a fireplace but I don’t suspect many people in the palazzi in that area do. Then I realized it was in front of a trattoria that had been a favourite haunt of many film stars in the 60s and 70s: La Taverna de’Mercanti. And of course this would be for their famous wood burning pizza ovens.
And as I walked along the side of the building I noticed a screen door leading directly down into their kitchen and took a quick shot of one of the staff preparing for the evening onslaught.
When I mentioned it to my doctor, he gave that famous Roman “BOH!” and suggested that I come over one evening and take night time pictures as according to him it is quite lovely. But then he suggested I go and eat elsewhere – too many people looking for the table that Gregory Peck sat at!
At the best of times I’m sure that the centre of Madrid at night is a fascinating sight but over the Christmas season the imaginative use of lights gives it an added magic. And its not just the main avenues and well known boulevards; back ways and side streets are strung with lights to celebrate the holidays.
Plaza de la red de San Luis had this modern skyscraper of lights as its centre piece and Gran Via was strung with matching festoons. It gave the appearance of a modern city receding into the night.
Whereas Passo del Prado was all multi coloured wreaths suspended in the darkness. And the pedestrian boulevard that runs down the centre dotted with trees of lights.
And a small side street was a bit more traditional with candles and holly.
Plaza de La Cibeles was very modern with abstract patterns surrounding the fountain and a forest of suspended light icicles heading down Paseo de Recoletos.
Around our hotel at Plaza de San Martin, on the Arenal and Alcala Christmas balls and abstract clouds led down to the gigantic tree at Puerta del Sol.
This distinguished looking member of the Orthodox clergy was sitting at the table near to mine at the Metropole Cafe in Cathedral Square this morning. I thought he had that sort of, at the least, Old Testament prophet look if not, at the most, “God the Father” himself from a few of the paintings I’ve seen around.
But I was not the only one impressed – an North American couple (that is the gentleman in white) of East Indian origin off one of the cruise ships were fascinated by him. There were some desperate attempts to communicate and some intriguing pantomimes and finally Spiros, one of the waiters was dragged into the little scenario playing out beside me.
“Tell him he has a divine look,” the woman commanded in a tone that was not to be denied. “Tell him he’s divine!”
The message was convey to the rather bemused clergyman who accepted it with a gracious nod – am I just imagining that his wife giggled a bit?
“We want his blessing,” said the husband while making a vague sign of benediction in the direction of his wife and himself.
“No I want him to place his hands on my head,” insisted the wife. “I want a proper blessing!”
Poor Spiros communicated this rather unusual request as the husband pulled the priest up to his feet, grabbed his hands and placed them on his wife’s head. The priest muttered something in Greek – it could have been a blessing. Then repeated it for the man. The wife kissed his hand as did the husband and faces beaming they took their leave, turning to wave several times as they headed towards the Cathedral.
The priest sat down, gave me a “I’m not sure what just went on here” look and dipping his napkin in some water wiped off his hands. I am not at all sure he was that happy but there were two radiant people basking in the glow of his “blessing”. And, no doubt, this evening, at dinner, they’ll be recounting the experience to their table mates. 21 ottobre – San Gaspare del Bufalo
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown