snapshots of architecture, art, and antiquities of beautiful Berlin

Berlin, Germany is a living, well kept up ode to Grecian architecture, Roman and other ancient world antiquities, classical treasures in sumptuous museums, 19th century design and art, classical music, coffeehouses, bookshops, culture, beauty, ideals, dark history, fresh hopes, and a detached but genial air keeping time with efficiency. The architecture and the antiquities in the museums are seductive and worth the visit! What a charming and fascinating city!!!

Advertisements

the berlin wall

Visiting the Berlin wall in Germany in March was such an amazing experience. The recent history of the most basic freedoms stripped from half of Berliner‘s every day lives for decades is a vital reminder of why fascism and totalitarian societies don’t work under any conditions. Power always corrupts, art and education are replaced by propaganda, and group think, not individuality, is encouraged. Any political or social group who fears satire or who encourages Orwellian newspeak or Kafkaesque show trials or book burning or word banning, is its own little Stasí police state ripe for the taking. The wall pieces must stay, the new city must continue to grow, and history must be taught and learned so we all have the possibility for it not to repeat itself with total abandon. Berlin is a fantastic city!

Rome in October


I caught a ridiculously photogenic couple in Rome taking a selfie together on the pincian hill at sunset, with cupolas and Saint Peter’s behind them. Oh, to be young and beautiful and in love in Roma, what many in this world wouldn’t give for it. If only, I think to myself…
romeprsimmon

Persimmon trees bearing fruit with a view.

autruin

A little ruin and a little Renaissance (and rococo).

dance

Dance of the tourists on the Villa Borghese’s Pincio overlooking the Piazza del Popolo.

doves

A kissing dove and pigeon. White doves always strike me as a symbol of Ancient Rome, much like olive trees.

woman

I like watching the beauty of Rome unfold before other people.

aut
Down the Pincio, on the way to the Spanish Steps, there are views everywhere of cupolas up close and far away.

water

The endless flow of Roman water over stone and newly fallen leaves.

bust

There’s always a sense of play and humor in the Villa Borghese park, especially in the Pincian hill section.

caes

Walking along the Appian Way one is reminded why Rome will always be the eternal city, winter, spring, summer or autumn.

On Italy, on Love, a Keatsian letter never sent

I write to you from Italy. It’s where I belong, if I belong anywhere in this world. I should be writing this in Italian, that beautiful language… the language of Dante, and poetry, and of the maestros, but I’ve mastered one language only, English. Mastered it with the devotion of a life long lover who never grows bored. Such is my devotion to Italia itself. To the stories of Italy, to the soil, the sun, the gleaming stripped marble of ruins, the art, the hum of life for centuries still playing in stone.

                                                   (film still)

Love and Italy are entwined for me. But love for a place feels less dangerous than love for another soul. What is it about love more than any other sensation or state that makes it worth dying for for nearly everybody? Is it the intoxication? Is it that danger of falling; first in love, —the surrender of giving oneself so completely to another, and then, —the alluring danger of falling into disrepute and disintegration? 
  (‘before sunrise’ trilogy film still)

You’ll never have nowhere to go, I heard in a song once. That’s the other thing about love too, isn’t it? If you are my fail safe, I’ll be your home. We’ll never have nowhere to go, we’ll never be quite alone, never be utterly lost in the world with our pieces of love tethered to an anchor. Love gives you the buoyancy of floating, even at the end of a rope. The deeper the love, the deeper the water, the longer the line, the sweeter the kiss, the saltier the tears. The deeper the knife plunge. Something like that.

 (Shot by me, double exposed b&w film, protestant cemetery, Rome, Italy, 2008)

Loving is swimming that feels like floating, falling that feels like flying, until loving feels like drowning when there’s still a spark in the brain and air in the lungs, — quickly quickly at first, then slower, slower so there’s a flicker of hope, until the last tick tick tock of blue veins and dark arterial blood, and with the sounds of a few trite memories, voices of ghosts before you’ve forgotten, —then the spark is faltering again, then flickering out, the air is now escaping, —then, at once — nothing.

 (shot by me, portra film, capri protestant cemetery, isle of Capri, Italy, 2013)

Keats said, “Love is my religion; I could die for it.” Not for religion, not for country, not for god or even one’s soul, but for love itself, that fickle slow dying and quickening and petering out and rushing back and dissolving of self, that is worth dying for, each and every time. 

We hope for one great love in life, but perhaps there is a beauty in a few great loves, slipped into and out of like different characters? Multiple loves for multiple lives. 

 (analog photograph by the amazing Francesca Woodman)

That’s what we have, you and I, isn’t it? We fall in and out of love, in and out of each other? We hunt and repel, we submerge together, and reemerge on opposite sides, —we crash back into, then back away, sometimes we look away when speaking… 

Tell me when does love stagnate? When the newness of sex becomes too familiar or the nuances of our narratives loses their mystery? When we lose ourselves a little too much to capture the other, and no longer “get each other?” When the brains soften followed by the body?   

 (greco roman style neoclassical painting)

I fear I’ll never feel that with Italy, my love will never die for its myths and beauty. I’ll always return to its warmth, its reminder of death, and of the temporary. My love for you also feels endless, for it is already a ruin we revisit, happily, to hold onto the dust a little longer, to declare we were once here, to hope when we’re carrion our love will find itself in the hum pressed into stone too.

standing at the ruins on a quiet roman night

Rome is pieced together by fragments old and new; a broken clay pile of people who have lived and died, and are forgotten, rivaling the Monte Testaccio in size and obscurity.

Rome is the heaviness of time. It is the marks left on humanity. It is a walkable history book, forever unfolding its pages.

Rome is monuments of the big whigs leaving you breathless with their grand scale and an overwhelming rush of beauty.

‘Everyone is dead here’, the city whispers, in a voice softened against the bone-white marble of ruins.

The palatine lies silent under the stars. This is your one moment to catch your breath and savor Rome.

Try to stop time by breathing it in slowly. Hold it in, and take a sensory snapshot. Stand there, holding your breath, recording, feeling as immovable as a statue; a Henry James’ American willing a sacrifice to the pagan gods.

‘Just let me remember this. Let this enter me. The endlessness of it. The cobwebs. The broken stone. The bones. The dust. The pulse remaining somehow. Let me carry Rome where ever I go. Let it become a part of me. No, let me become a part of Rome. Another story never writ, another name unknown.’

     

   


Italy and England 

FH000036

There’s old Winston Churchill watching Big Ben, in Westminster, London, in March 2014.

FH080025

An anglophile’s dream: the omnipresent iconic red telephone box.

tumblr_n2m2boeRBt1qznevxo1_1280

Wandering around Portobello Road, in the Notting Hill neighborhood.

tumblr_n2m3vm4QKN1qznevxo1_1280

The street art / grafitti is like The Sex Pistols and the Bbc all rolled into one.

tumblr_n2jpi8fjpD1qznevxo1_1280

Tea at Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s house was quite amusing.

tumblr_n2td6nd9hv1qznevxo1_1280

Enjoyed searching for british china tea cups and white darjeeling on a half deserted faire.

tumblr_n277oxPbB41qznevxo9_1280

After wandering the many lovely garden parks of london wound up at  Buckingham’s Gate.tumblr_n2din7vCpZ1qznevxo4_1280

Making the pilgrimage to John Keats house at Hampstead Heath, London, after years of visiting the flat he died in, and laying flowers at his grave, in Rome.

tumblr_n25cocvIUQ1qznevxo6_1280

A room with a view…over the Thames, I was always excited to wake up to (and to raise my glass to) Big Ben.

tumblr_n277oxPbB41qznevxo10_1280

Saw the beautiful La Boheme set in 1940s Paris at the Royal Albert Hall.

B5BU7bICUAE64GN.jpg-large

From the window of “221 b Baker Street, London

B3-31pGIYAAu66l.jpg-large

From the beautiful garden of John Keats home, where he fell in love with Fanny Brawne and wrote some of his greatest poems.

B3-zkWjCMAAMYrJ.jpg-large

From the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. I do love a cloister.

B3-uIR-IEAAdpcl.jpg-large

You have no idea how deep my anglophilia goes because I am always going on about Italy but these signs gave me a profound joy.

B3-2OnVCIAIZ5PE.jpg-large

This sign is so British it hurts.

B3-nT6QIUAAD_4A.jpg-large

One of those moments in London an American or most foreigners savor.

B3-3i1BIAAAWb_P.jpg-large

Always, a pilgrimage, a  beauty, a joy. John Keats forever. English Romanticism forever. B3-yzpZIAAIuVOk.jpg-large

Down the cloistered hall… like a dream of English classics, literary characters dancing in my head, London, a city looming in my brain of larger than life characters and eccentric, wonderful stories and frightful tales.

tumblr_ncpjorBGx51qznevxo1_1280

The heartbreakingly beautiful dream of Italy view from my dreamy Sorrento hotel room terrazzo.

0505823_0505823-R9-077-37

Walking along the Appian Way on a quiet, car-free Sunday in Rome or along the Renaissance Via Guilia, I am forever excited and in awe over the small beauties and signs of the ancient world in this magical, mysterious city open-armed to the world.

0505823_0505823-R9-071-34

The architecture and cafes are familiar but I feel and live Rome anew each visit. There’s always something new to discover or a passion to stumble onto. Life is in the moment. It is heavy with the past, it is so alive it smacks of the future, but it is so wildly, lightly felt in the now, in the moment, Rome is like dreaming awake, feeling everything. Everything!

0505823_0505823-R8-028-12A

Finding new off the beaten path cafes was a big favorite of mine in Italy this year. Always in search of the quiet moments and the hidden corners of Rome. This cafe was in Trastevere where you can sit and sip espresso and gaze at a Baroque Madonna painted onto a church exterior wall.

0505823_0505823-R4-047-22

I love the Eternal City because it has so many layers of history and love and unknown stories and marks of time and beauty in decay and new life bursting forth in a macabre, colored, brilliant celebration in Roman life today.

B30QipuIYAAsZ8r.jpg-large

Took a boat around my favorite island and swam in the Tyrrhenian sea on Capri, a place which invokes everything beautiful, lush and ancient about Southern Italy. There’s nothing quite like it.

0500158_0500158-R1-037-17

Returned to a lot of the same pleasures of the past, freshly squeezed oranges and lemons, under the Italian sun, by a Neapolitan woman who sings all day as she flitters around her Kiosk on the gorgeous Via Tragara.

0500158_0500158-R3-012-4A

A return to Pompeii, the fascinating buried city with Vesuvius watchful in the distance.

0500158_0500158-R2-059-28

Meeting new friends abroad 🙂

0500158_0500158-R8-021-9

Long walks soaking in the sun and the past.

0500158_0500158-R7-046-21A

Architectural details in half-obscured gardens of small villa art museums (full of amazing Renaissance, ancient and baroque Italian art)!

0500158_0500158-R7-072-34A

Being the foreigner in a city you fall into like a comfortable affair.

0500158_0500158-R2-067-32

The moments you can’t anticipate but happen upon in the most beautiful of happenstances.

0500158_0500158-R8-055-26

My favorite spot on earth for the golden hour, on the Pincian Hill in Rome. This is before the view of the Popolo.

0500158_0500158-R10-049-23

A typical Roman street, wrapped into the mystery of fragments and pieces of history.

0500158_0500158-R10-037-17

The beauty of being overwhelmed in Rome.

0500158_0500158-R10-013-5

Cafe life in Italy, a class of wine or a coffee, a little treat, there is nothing like it. Another layered moment captured, to be savored and remembered palpably.

0500158_0500158-R4-025-11

On every wall there is a reminder of death and a reminder of love, the eternal kind, of love that lasts, and of life in the hand too.

0500158_0500158-R4-059-28

Rome, a city to return to, one that keeps its shutters open to the world, long enough for an unforgettable peek.

0500158_0500158-R10-059-28

Since that first moment I arrived there, now, and always, for Roma.

For traveling, for seeing the world, for meeting new people, and for being at home in the world.

tumblr_mauq7qjOcf1r82902o1_1280

Here’s to 2014… and here is a cheers to 2015 and a new year of adventure and experience and chasing beauty!

throw out your guidebooks

Throw your guidebooks to the side (after you’ve seen the major sights) and get a little lost for an afternoon in Rome.

Side step vespas and taxis and pilgrims and other tourists behind maps, and get lost for a while. 

Do as the Romans do.

Bow in and out of the slants of sunlight and vespas, use sounds of water fountains and laughter as your navigation. 

An off the beaten path is not merely a passage but a rite and a full circle. 

When walking in Rome you are witness to the many passions of people in a cacophony of color and sound and motion. 

Roma begins to makes sense to you as you feel follow its rhythm; it is foreign and antique and familiar all at once. 

Rome is history in the bones of the city stirring the blood.

Roma changes you.

What could I suggest to you but to drink in the sublime here? 

See the city for the thousands of layers rather than one wild jumble.

Beauty is on display, oh yes, —but so is reflection of the human and the divine in every corner. 

The celebration of the individual is found even in the smallest of details in Rome. 

Art is a living thing. 

The story of mankind is in a treasured relic, and in a sip of espresso, and in a stolen kiss. 

Life is found in another language where the words are less important than the feelings they conjur in us all in the moment.

Rome is the tug of a heartbeat in a pulse before the veil falls over you.

Rome is a reminder of death that is very much a reminder to live! To live now!!

0505823_0505823-R6-077-37

0505823_0505823-R9-077-37

0505823_0505823-R9-071-34

0505823_0505823-R6-009-3

0505823_0505823-R8-028-12A

0505823_0505823-R4-047-22

eternal city

tumblr_mglb2p0p231qznevxo1_1280

Spend some time in the eternal city and you will feel death like a whisper on the back of your neck.

Go there young, when you still feel invincible, and watch the tombs and monuments to a crumbled past deathmask-smile at you.


Return after you’ve loved and lost a little, when you’ve begun to collect possessions interchangeably with memories, hold hands past paupers and ruffians and the modern courtesan; the tourist liaisons hovering by menus, beckoning, offering, waving.


Return again after you’ve lost more than you’ve loved but you still have a bit of youth on your side, and you can take in the big picture.


Return next when you’ve hit your peak and now the edges are fraying a little. When fountains and paintings once trumpeting romance and pleasure are grimier and more worn than you remember. When the seducers and the money takers suggest more pallid languor than sex, where every turned corner is a missed opportunity or a new experience, depending on how beaten down or defiant you’ve become since that earlier youth on your first visit. You have a decision to make… Strength for strength or a quick decline.



Return a final time, as cherubs and seraphim throw off shrugs and hands in the air when the whisper of death becomes an aria crowding out the ears. Stare at the details or miss them, memorizing the picture of life doesn’t matter so much in the short term. The marks on your soul have already been decided for you. This is the golden amnesia hour, where every thing thought and felt is only for the rushing moment, water slipping through fingers, spilling out of the mouth, tasted, cooled but most of it landing on your face, your shirt, your shoes, the uneven cobblestones. Keep drinking it in.