Tag Archives | train stations

Tickets, a haircut and ‘addio Ravenna…’

I slept later than usual this morning, having not much to do but revisit some basilica, cross a few historic buildings off my list and take care of some logistical matters before I leave Ravenna tomorrow and head to Pistoia where I will meet up with the rest of the Aegean Center.  I had been investigating alternatives to the usual Ravenna/Bologna/Firenze/Pistoia train route and after a couple of friends informed me of a narrow gauge rail that might take me from Point A to B, I asked around.  The information desk at the stazione ferroviaria di Ravenna was somewhat helpful although she had only two routes on her schedule.  The first was the above-mentioned standard line.  The second leaves Ravenna by a bus which takes me to the Faenza station where I board a regional line that winds down to Firenze, where I change trains for Pistoia.  There was no listing for the Porrettano Railway, my narrow gauge adventure.  Further investigation on my own found online references, but nothing that could help.  It seems there is a push to repair and restore this historic line to working order, but for me, tomorrow, the answer was ‘No!’  So I go by way of Faenza.  If all goes well I should be at the Villa Rospigliosi by 1600 hours or something close to that.  The view on the train from Faenza is still supposed to be lovely.

In the past few years my travels have taken me away from my home base for longer and longer periods of time and as a result I have had to look after myself as I would in more familiar surroundings.  One aspect I have been enjoying is getting my hair cut.  There is a masculine aspect to going to a barber unlike the experience of going to a salon, typically the domain of women. This is not a sexist comment, just a realistic one.  In the USA and Europe there are fewer  barbers now and more ‘hair stylists’ or whatever they wish to be called.  There is nothing like a traditional barber.  Four years ago I had my hair cut in Athens by a Bengali immigrant and I swear it was the best haircut I ever had.  While on Paros I go to Niko, the Greek barber on Market Street in Paroikia.  I realized the other day that my hair was looking, and feeling, a bit shaggy so I inquired at the front desk of my hotel.  I was directed down the street towards the train station.  So this morning, after having purchased my tickets for tomorrow’s journey I stopped in to the ‘barbieri’ for a cut.  There was no sign on the door save for ‘Barbieri’ and a telephone number.  I went in, was seated in front of the mirror and the man went to work.  30 minutes later I looked and felt much better and the bill was 12 Euros.  Not bad.  Only 2 Euros more than Niko.  I like getting my hair cut in a strange town.  It makes me feel as if I have engaged with the place on a different level than the rest of the tourists.

Tonight I also ate my last dinner here in Ravenna.  I have had a few dinners and not all were great.  Some were fantastic and overpriced, and some aspired to greatness and fell short.  The best was the first night at ‘Vecchia Ravenna da Mario‘ so I went back for more.  Like my experience on Serifos a few months ago I have come to the conclusion that I should have eaten there all the time and in doing so would have saved money and had a better food experience.  Tonight I had ‘tagliatelle alla ragu’ and ‘pollo alla cacciotore’.  Really great.  As I have already reported, noting like home-cooking.  The pasta was hand rolled and cut just before it was cooked (perfectly al dente) and the chicken was delicious, served with mushrooms, tomatoes and small black olives.  Dee-lish!  I finished up with caramel panna cotta and an espresso.  It was a big meal so the bill as about 30 Euros, but it was worth it.  I had dinner last night at another place and the bill was 37 Euros.  The restaurant, how shall I say it, reached for a brass ring to high to grasp.  Next time I come to Ravenna, I know where to eat.

So that’s it for Ravenna.  I have seen some amazing mosaics, had some OK, good and wonderful food and have had my hair cut as a start to fall semester of the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, Italian Session 2012.  Next post..Pistoia…Ciao!


European relief, directional aids and new courses…

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene I was unsure as to the status of my flight to Italy.  Thankfully Air France did not cancel the flight, the weather cleared overnight and I flew out of JFK without mishap  or delay.  My hat is off to the staff at that illustrious airport and the fine job they did Monday August 29, 2011.

I arrived in Florence around 9:00 hours and had to wait a few hours until my room was ready.  The Hotel Orto di Medici was kind enough to let me sleep on a couch in the day room until 14:00 when I could check in.  A simple but clean room was presented to me and a crawled into the sack for some more shuteye.  That evening I walked around and found a decent trattoria: carpaccio with spicy arugula, baked beans with garlic and tomatoes and fried rabbit reminded me that I was no longer in America and safe and happy here in Europe, a place I seem to be calling home more often than not.  The next morning I awoke very early and took a dimly-lit walk through the empty streets, down to the River Arno and onto the Ponte Vecchio, devoid of tourists and closed for the night.  It was lovely.  The street cleaners went about their business as I strolled about, buying off the jet-lag and getting my bearings.  My internal compass is more-or-less realigned.  I returned to the hotel, snoozed for a couple of hours and woke up to one of the better continental breakfasts I have had.  The salami and mortadella were excellent, the cappuccino was tasty and they even had rice cakes as a choice over than toast.  I ate well, knowing that my day trip to Fiesole would burn off the calories.  I took the bus to Fiesole and walked around the Roman and Etruscan ruins virtually alone–after another cappuccino.  I came back to Florence by lunchtime and made my way from the Piazza San Marco to the San Croce area and visited the Museo Galileo, which is also called the Science Museum.  Wonderful, really fantastic.  Measuring devices of all types, styles, eras and functions were on display, most collected by the di Medici family over the centuries.  I was hit by an understanding of the nature of man, or of at least intelligent man.  We are born to measure, to divine distances and directions, pressures and quantities physical and ephemeral.  My common metaphor of the sailor’s compass is held up by the cases of quadrants, octants, sundials, Jacobs staffs, clocks and globes of any and seemingly all varieties.  I am inspired.

Today is Thursday, September 1.  I am meeting some spiritual friends for coffee and conversation at 13:30.  Before that I hope to beat some of the crowds to the Palazzo Pitti and then head to the Museo Zoologico la Specola.  In the afternoon My day is free to wander.  I would like to avoid the crowds for an hour or so and then come back to the hotel for a short siesta.  Then I’ll pack my bags.  Tomorrow I head to Pistoia, the Villa Rospigliosi and the Aegean Center.  First, however, I am meeting up with a fellow student at the train station, which leaves me with Friday morning free before I check out and dump my bags (carefully re-packed) at the left-luggage office, Firenze Santa Maria Novello.  I can only imagine what awaits me…


Greek update…

It is February, the month of my birth, as well as my father.  His birthday is today and he is 82.  I am heading into NYC tomorrow for lunch with him and two of my half-cousins from my grandfather’s first marriage.  They are very nice and we all get along just fine.  I am taking MetroNorth from Wassaic which puts me in to Grand Central.  Then I’ll walk uptown to the restaurant on Broadway and 105th.  Quite a hike, but I can take pictures along the way.  Maybe I’ll get two rolls done but three would be very cool indeed.  I could use some more urban images fro the portfolio.

In regards to that, and Greece, if the river don’t rise I’ll be flying off to Athens in 29 days.  I am very excited and have begun to do some test-packing.  I packed my camera bag once and will do so again until I get the optimal set-up.  I am taking my Canon 50D and the two L-series lenses I have for it.  I am also taking my Voigtlander with the 35mm lens I bought with it and a new 21mm lens that is arriving today.  A light meter, some lead film bags, batteries, etc…all round out the gear.  There is plenty of room for my notebook, documents, a book, pens and pencils, and some other odds-and-ends.  I’ll re-pack the night before I leave, I am sure.

I am going to buy a small refrigerator for my darkroom. This way I can put all my chemistry, paper and film away safely before I leave.  I have looked on-line and I can get a good one for less than $300 new from Lowes.  I can also get one locally from Campbell and Keeler in Millerton for a little more and support a local business.  I think I will do that.  Maybe even today!

Below is a new image.  I used Efke (ADOX) CHS 100 with my Voigtlander R4M.  For printing I used Edwal Platinum II for the soup on Fotokemika paper at f/16 for about 3 1/2 minutes.


Searching for Robert Frank…

I have just returned from a visit with my sister and her husband just outside Boston.  While I was there we were all able to meet up with my father at a bookstore in Cambridge where he and his wife gave a reading of some of their new work.  I took a couple of pictures, but felt very uncomfortable doing so.  After refection I discovered it wasn’t the act, but rather the subject.  There was nothing spontaneous and the observing seemed to draw the attention of my father, something I didn’t want.  In fact, he pointed it out to the small audience at one point–very off-putting. Our relationship is difficult.  His own narcissism has progressed as he has aged and he either contradicts what I say or disregards it.  If I think of him as an old man with difficulties and not my father I have a better relationship.

The Robert Frank show is up at the Metropolitan in NYC.  I have plans to go in later this month…I think on the 21st.  I hope to spend the day looking through the viewfinder and trying not to try too hard.  I’m lucky that I am an avid walker…The soles of my shoes are well worn.  I’ll stay out of the park: too much wide open space.


Home…and back to work…

Roma boy from an encampment in Belgrade, Serbia 2009

Roma boy from an encampment in Belgrade, Serbia 2009

I have been home for over a week.  My trip back to the Balkans seemed quick.  I was there for a month-and-a-half but it felt like two weeks.  I was able to improve some great friendships and build some new ones, especially in Austria, where I connected with some musicians and graphic artists.

I used up 14 rolls of b/w film and am now in the developing process in a darkroom across the river.  I am there this morning and most of the day.  We shall see.  I have been slowly looking through the digital stuff.  Although I have combed through the Roma images, I still have the Breast Cancer shoot to address as well as my “tourist” images, mostly train stations, bus stations and transport of different varieties.

I am also writing my thesis on possible unification in the Balkan Peninsula.  Laugh if you will, but I think there could be a solution.  I also hope to be able to do a shoot next week with a professional model for some figure studies before I head to Woodstock for the weekend workshop on the same subject.  I have the images in my head that I want, I just need to make them happen.  I think I am using a male model, so I am going for a sense of heroism, almost like propaganda images from the Cold War, but I will also look for the vulnerability of the human spirit as well.

Here ‘s a small b/w image of a Roma boy from Belgrade.

John D.C. Masters

Interview, Part 2

Railway station platform, Florence, Italy 1993

Railway station platform, Florence, Italy 1993

I can remember being astounded by the Cartier-Bresson’s  “Michel Gabriel, Rue Mouffetard” — the photograph of the young boy carrying the two bottles of wine.  I realized then that there was more to just snapping away at whatever you wanted.  That’s when I began to see a new world through the viewfinder.  My father’s good friend and mentor, Wright Morris, was another influence.   He was a writer and photographer who photographed the Midwest and America at roughly the same period as Walker Evans.   Many times over the years Morris’ calm eye has resurfaced in my mind, guiding me.

I like this view because it lies in between arrivals and departures, which are always exciting points when I travel.  The station is all but empty.  It was during this 1993 trip to Europe that I began to search for my voice.  Unfortunately most of the images from that journey are lost.  I only have a handful of negatives left.