petek, 07. november 2014

Bokeh, vol. 1

(zapis v slovenščini je spodaj)

Interestingly enough, I couldn't find the definition of the word bokeh in almost any dictionary. I was looking, not because I wouldn't know what it means but just out of curiosty. And so that I could paste it here. Finally, I did find it in the Oxford dictionary online:

  • bokeh (noun, origin: Japanese): The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.
The term comes from the Japanese word "boke" which means "blur". (Thank you, Wikipedia)

And so I decided to try it out. An endless number of tutorials can be found online but the basic idea is simple. The thing I wanted to try out is to make a custom-shaped bokeh. And well, one of the easiest shapes to cut out, but also one of the cutest, is a little heart. And that's what Kristina did! 

All you need is a piece of paperboard and some good scissors. Again, there are probably millions of tutorials on the web so I'm just gonna show you how my little paperboard "cap" looked like. You want to make sure it goes tightly around your lens...

The best lenses for bokeh experiments are prime lenses but as I don't have one (yet), my 18-55mm had to suffice. The important thing is that your aperture is as wide open as possible. And of course the focus has to be manual so you can shoot with the blurry effect. 

I was in my room, I turned off the main light and used some flower-shaped colorful lights I bought when I was studying in France (OK, I know this is not really important for the story...). Any kind of Christmas lights will do. Curious about the result? Here it is:


I know it's far from being perfect but hey, it was my first attempt. I also didn't have very good scissors to cut out the heart so you can see the rough edges on the picture. I then tried it without the paperboard "cap" and I must say I find the results even better!


Next time I'll try out something more complicated! Stay tuned.

~ ~ ~

Zanimivo, ko sem iskala razlago za besedo "bokeh" v angleških slovarjih, je skoraj nikjer nisem našla. Pa ne zato, ker ne bi vedela, kaj pomeni, ampak zgolj iz radovednosti. In da bi jo potem lahko prilepila sem. V slovenskih slovarjih se je niti nisem trudila iskati. Potem pa sem jo le zasledila v Oxfordovem slovarju na spletu. Bokeh je termin, ki izvira iz japonske besede "boke" (zamegljen, moten), pomeni pa predel fotografije (tudi način fotografiranja), ki ni izostren, s čimer fotografiji damo nek poseben čar. Lahko je cela neizostrena, lahko pa samo del nje. 

Na spletu je neskončno število navodil in "tutorialov", ki opisujejo, kako se tega lotimo, in že sam vpis besede bokeh v Google nam postreže s številnimi primeri. Pa sem se odločila, da poskusim še jaz. Želela sem narediti bokeh posebnih oblik, ki ga dosežemo, če na objektiv fotoaparata namestimo kartonasto "čepico", v katero smo izrezali poljubno obliko. Jaz sem se za začetek odločila za srček, ker ga je najlaže izrezati, pa še ...srčkan je. Poskrbela sem, da se je tesno prilegal objektivu.

Najboljši objektivi za bokeh eksperimentiranje so fiksni, recimo 50 mm objektivi, ki omogočajo široko odprto zaslonko, ampak ker sama takega (še) nimam, je moral zadostovati moj 18-55 mm objektiv. Pomembno je le, da sem kar se da odprla zaslonko, in seveda nastavila na ročno ostrenje, da sem potem lahko "škljocala" pri neizostreni sliki.

Bil je večer, v sobi sem ugasnila vse luči, razen majhnih lučk v obliki rožic, ki sem si jih kupila med študijem v Franciji (vem, za zgodbo povsem nepomemben podatek). V poštev pač pridejo kakršne koli božične lučke, ki jih dajemo decembra na smrečice. Vas zanima rezultat? Tadam!


Vem, da rezultat še zdaleč ni popoln, ampak to je bil šele moj prvi poskus! Poleg tega nisem imela prav dobrih majhnih škarij, zato lahko na srčkih zgoraj vidite neravne in nazobčane robove. Poskusila sem fotografirati še brez kartonaste "čepice" in nazadnje mi je bilo to skoraj bolj všeč kot srčki.


Naslednjič bom poskusila izvesti še kaj bolj zakompliciranega!

ponedeljek, 29. september 2014

Pour faire le portrait d'un oiseau

Fotografija in poezija, z roko v roki. Pred nekaj dnevi sem prebirala knjige na knjižni polici v svoji sobi in našla eno, ki mi jo je nekoč podarila mami. V njej je zbirka pesmi Jacquesa Préverta v dveh jezikih. Vsaka pesem je objavljena v francoskem originalu, ob njej pa prevod v italijanščini. Poesie d'amore e libertà je njen naslov. Spomnim se, da mi jo je mami kupila, ker sem vedno govorila, da moram obnoviti svoje zarjavelo znanje italijanščine. In ni boljšega kot to storiti skozi poezijo!
In potem sem pregledovala slike, ki sem jih posnela na mini izletu v Grožnjanu. Ko sem zagledala tole, sem se nemudoma spomnila na eno od Prévertovih pesmi. Tu je, v originalu in italijanščini. V angleščini jo lahko preberete tukaj, v slovenščini je pa na spletu ne najdem ... Na srečo pa fotografije ne potrebujejo prevodov.

(To je zdaj prav taka objava, ki se pritiče ljubitelju jezikov in (wannabe) poliglotu, kot sem jaz.)

~ ~ ~

Photography and poetry go so beautifully together, don't they... A few days ago, I was going through the books in my room and I found one my mum gave me as present a while ago. It's a collection of Jacques Prévert's poetry in two languages. Each poem is published in the French original with an Italian translation beside it. Poesie d'amore e libertà is the title. I remember my mum bought it for me because I was always saying I needed to renew my rusty knowledge of Italian. And what better way to do that! 
And then... I was going through the pictures I took during my little trip to Grožnjan, Croatia. When I saw this one, I immediately remembered one of Prévert's poems. Here it is, in the original and in Italian. In English, you can find it here. Luckily, photos need no translation.

(Now this is an exemplary post done by a language lover and a (wannabe) polyglot that I am.)



Pour faire le portrait d'un oiseau

À Elsa Henriquez

Peindre d'abord une cage
avec une porte ouverte
peindre ensuite
quelque chose de joli
quelque chose de simple
quelque chose de beau
quelque chose d'utile
pour l'oiseau
placer ensuite la toile contre un arbre
dans un jardin
dans un bois
ou dans une forêt
se cacher derrière l'arbre
sans rien dire
sans bouger...
Parfois l'oiseau arrive vite
mais il peut aussi bien mettre de longues années
avant de se décider
Ne pas se décourager
attendre
attendre s'il le faut pendant des années
la vitesse ou la lenteur de l'arrivée de l'oiseau
n'ayant aucun rapport
avec la réussite du tableau
Quand l'oiseau arrive
s'il arrive
observer le plus profond silence
attendre que l'oiseau entre dans la cage
et quand il est entré
fermer doucement la porte avec le pinceau
puis
effacer un à un tous les barreaux
en ayant soin de ne toucher aucune des plumes de l'oiseau
Faire ensuite le portrait de l'arbre
en choisissant la plus belle de ses branches
pour l'oiseau
peindre aussi le vert feuillage et la fraîcheur du vent
la poussière du soleil
et le bruit des bêtes de l'herbe dans la chaleur de l'été
et puis attendre que l'oiseau se décide à 
chanter
Si l'oiseau ne chante pas
c'est mauvais signe
signe que le tableau est mauvais
mais s'il chante c'est bon signe
signe que vous pouvez signer
Alors vous arrachez tout doucement
une des plumes de l'oiseau
et vous écrivez votre nom dans un coin du tableau.

Per fare il ritratto di un uccello

A Elsa Henriquez

Per prima cosa dipingere una gabbia
che abbia la porta aperta
quindi dipingere
qualcosa di grazioso
qualcosa che sia semplice
qualcosa che sia bello
qualcosa di utile
per l'uccello
mettere poi la tela contro un albero
in un giardino
in un bosco
o in una foresta
nascondersi dietro quell'albero
senza dire niente
e senza muoversi...
Talvolta l'uccello arriva svelto
ma può anche metterci anni e anni
prima che si decida
Non scoraggiarsi
aspettare
aspettare se occorre anche per anni
la rapidità o la lentezza dell'arrivo dell'uccello
non ha nulla a che fare
con la riuscita del quadro
Quando l'uccello arriva
se arriva
osservare il silenzio più assoluto
aspettare che l'uccello entri nella gabbia
e quando l'avrà fatto 
richiudere dolcemente la porta col pennello
e poi
cancellare una per una tutte le sbarre
avendo cura di non toccare le piume dell'uccello
Fare a questo punto il ritratto dell'albero
scegliendo il suo ramo più bello
per l'uccello
dipingere allora il fogliame verde e la freschezza del vento
il pulviscolo del sole
il rumore degli insetti nascosti nell'erba
nella calura estiva
poi aspettare che l'uccello abbia voglia di mettersi a cantare
Ma se non canta
è un gran brutto segno
è segno che il quadro è venuto male
ma se canta è invece un buon segno
segno che il lavoro va firmato
E quindi voi strapperete con grande dolcezza 
a quell'uccello una sua piuma 
e scriverete il vostro nome in un angolo del quadro.

(trad. M. Cucchi & G. Raboni


ponedeljek, 22. september 2014

It's all about sweets! / Raj za sladkosnede

Včeraj sem svoj fotoaparat peljala na izlet v Koper, kjer je cel konec tedna potekal festival Sladka Istra in kjer so se mize in stojnice šibile pod zvrhanimi košarami, pladnji, krožnički in skledami čokolade, muffinov, potice, piškotov, pralinejev, tortic, pit, sladoleda ... brez konca in kraja. Seveda nisem mogla ostati doma in sem svojo sladkosnedost nagradila za tri mesece nazaj in še za tri naprej! Malo sem sicer pogrešala izbor domačih, ne-umetelnih, tradicionalno slovenskih sladic. Ponudba je bila namreč precej na visokem nivoju. Pa kljub temu nisem ostala lačna, neskromno priznam. Zmagovalca mojega popoldneva sta bila refoškov sladoled (resnično je imel okus po refošku!) in čokoladni pralineji z bučnimi semeni in bučnim oljem (bravo Prekmurci!). Kaj bi še izgubljala besede, ko pa se vam lahko sline bolj pocedijo ob pogledu na katero od sličic.

~ ~ ~

Yesterday, I took my camera on a trip to Koper to the “Sweet Istria” festival where tables and stands were covered in baskets, plates and bowls full of chocolate, muffins, pralines, cakes, pies, ice cream... A never ending story. Of course I couldn’t stay at home and I took my sweet tooth and rewarded it for three months back and forth. I kind of missed homemade, not-so-fancy traditional Slovenian sweets though. The offer was quite posh. But I did not stay hungry, I admit. The winners of my afternoon were refosco ice cream (it actually tasted like refosco wine!) and chocolate pralines with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil (very well done, dear visitors from Prekmurje!). I feel like there is no use in writing anymore, I think I can make your tummies scream by posting some of the photos, am I right?
 


Refoškov sladoled. Refosco ice cream.











Moji zmagovalci. My winners.

sreda, 13. avgust 2014

#StandUpAgainstDepression

It was a perfectly normal Monday evening. I scrolled through my Instagram account and there I see it. One of the people I follow there published a photo of him saying RIP Robin. I... What?!?
I open a news website and I find out it's not a stupid distasteful prank. I wish it was. Robin Williams, the one actor I can really say I grew up with, watching his films, anything from Hook and Mrs Doubtfire to Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. It shocked me. He was one of the few actors that you cannot usually find in gossip magazines and yellow pages. No. He was greater than that.

And it made me think. So many of Williams' movies were comedies. Comedies that were supposed to make people laugh. He could certainly do that. And yet, he was suffering from depression. Seems like a paradox. Did anybody know that? I didn't. Not before it was too late and I found out he committed suicide. I mean, it's not like I could have helped him. It's just... Why doesn't anybody talk about it? Are people really more interested in the fact that Kim Kardashian published 1,200 selfies on her recent visit to Thailand? Really? How much do you know about depression?

And I thought of the movie Mrs Doubtfire. Maybe this movie is supposed to be a comedy (or at least a part of it) but can anyone remember Robin Williams' eyes in it?? When he realizes he cannot spend more time with his children. There was such a profound sadness in those blue eyes. I don't know, maybe I am imagining stuff but I believe that as good as he was in making people laugh, he was just as good in making people cry. Be it because of too much laughing or because of a simple look in his eyes. At least if I am speaking about myself.

And then I spoke to a friend of mine who was also shocked by Robin Williams' death and consequently decided to do something in order to stand up against depression, at least an attempt so we could discuss it more and not keep it a taboo. So I, too, decided to make a post about it. Anybody can follow and anybody can join the cause, post something on so many social media channels, anything.

Let this be in the honour of this great actor that Robin Williams was but also a message of hope for those who are struggling with depression. #StandUpAgainstDepression



petek, 08. avgust 2014

Through the rice fields of Sa Pa accompanied by amazing local women

Tourism and Community Development

Who is a traveller? Is it someone who passionately collects memories and photos from distant places? Or is it someone who passionately collects travel miles...

But what are the consequences of travelling? Not for your soul, your wallet or your hard drive exploding with photographs. For the people, the ones who live there, yes, in the country, region or village you visited. I am wondering what impact tourism has on local people.

There must be examples of a good impact. I can think of one. When I visited Vietnam, I was amazed by the beauty of the people and the landscape in Sa Pa in the very north of the country. The region is home to numerous ethnic minorities who still live in a very traditional way. Do not be bothered if they have mobile phones or Facebook profiles. They are still dressed in traditional clothes, they speak their own languages and have their own beliefs.


The faces of Sa Pa women.
I went for an organised trekking around the rice fields and our guide was one of these women. With colourful clothes and long black hair, I found her really beautiful. The scenery we walked through was breathtaking. Green rice fields, hildren running around barefoot, riding water buffalos... And the whole time while walking we were accompanied by a dozen of women who spoke English surprisingly well and were telling us stories from their lives.

The nature in Sa Pa.
And I started thinking. This is such a wonderful way of including locals into the tourism business. They can be such an inspiration. We can learn from them and hopefully, they can learn something good from us.

Women have an important role there. Many tribes are matriarchal and often, it is women who ask the man in marriage and children take on the surname of the mother. They seem so strong and full of energy and they all have these amazing smiles on their faces. All. The. Time. With the rising flow of tourists visiting Sa Pa, they very quickly learn English and start making scarves, pillowcases, bags, clothes and jewellery with traditional patterns that they try to sell. They work from dawn to dusk and they never complain. THEY are the very example of powerful women.

Those women!
At the end of the day these women offered us the products they made and I couldn’t find a better way to thank them and encourage them to keep going than buying some things. Which, by the way, I really liked and still use today. Buying original products directly from the ones who produce them makes you avoid potential scammers whose only goal is to exploit these people and make money for themselves. I will never forget these women and I am happy I was able to contribute a tiny little bit so they can go on with their lives. But the impact they had on me was even bigger. If nothing else, I now think twice before I complain about anything.

Laughter is their everyday companion.

*This is a blog post for the WTD Blogger Competition on this year’s WTD theme “Tourism and Community Development”. Feel free to comment and share!

petek, 25. julij 2014

Films in Summer ... or Summer in Films

Even though this July has been nothing like summery (apart from a few isolated days), I was and I still am excited about all the happening in the city, especially when we're talking about movies. The best thing about summer is the possibility to watch movies outside, or under the stars as some say. And this summer's selection is just great.

The projections have to start later, not before 9 pm, when it finally gets dark (I wonder how they do it in Finland or other Scandinavian countries with "eternal" daylight during summer? They probably can't...) and there is nothing better than sitting on a comfortable chair on a summer night surrounded by fellow movie-lovers and a gentle breeze.


The first outdoor screenings this summer in Ljubljana were about a month ago on the Congress Square (Kongresni trg) in the centre and they were for free! Special thanks to Kinodvor. We're talking about good old movies such as The Circus (Charlie Chaplin!), The Sound of Music and Ben Hur. I was so disappointed when it started raining during the Circus screening (which was the first of the three). The scenery was great and the movie was just perfect for a free of charge outdoor projections in a city bustling with tourists from all around the world in summer. Why? Well, because nobody speaks in a silent movie of course! There's just music and Chaplin's so distinctive character and even though it was shoot so many years ago (1928 to be exact), it's still so funny! The rain ruined the experience though but there still were some brave people who watched it anyway, even if it meant standing and holding an umbrella.


It was different for The Sound of Music. Some may think it's such a cliché movie but think about it. It's free, it's on a beautiful summer night and who doesn't like to hear some "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens..."? I was totally for it and when I came, practically all of the chairs were already taken! And the square is huge, by the way.


Unfortunately I wasn't there for the Ben Hur screening otherwise I would have come!


What's coming next - the screenings at the Ljubljana Castle. Film pod zvezdami or Movies under the stars. Have you seen the programme? It's really great. I like the way how they chose some of the best movies of the past year, which is perfect for those who might have missed them and included some premieres as well. The one I am especially excited about is Boyhood which seems really promising! And even though I have seen quite many of the films on the programme I will maybe consider seeing the ones I preferred one more time, considering the price for the tickets (especially for non-premiere movies) is really not so expensive and, come on, it's a whole other experience watching them under the stars. On a hill above Ljubljana. In a castle.


And it's not over yet. As of tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to spend up to five days in the idyllic Croatian town of Motovun for the Motovun Film Festival! Full of little "film-candies" such as Lunchbox (I did love this amazing Indian movie!) and Billy Elliot. I really do hope the weather will once for all realise that it is JULY and not April or late October and finally send us some much needed and appreciated and awaited warm sunshine. Fingers crossed!

sobota, 12. julij 2014

Nekega dne na Bledu. One day in Bled.

S projektom 365 fotografij v 365 dneh sem v takem zaostanku, da bom potrebovala veliko, ampak res veliko navdiha naenkrat, če bom želela to poletje zamudo nadoknaditi. Ampak bom! Vmes pa tale fotografija, ki mi jo je uspelo posneti nekega večera, kje drugje kot na Bledu! Poletje je v zraku (čeprav vreme nekaj štrajka ...).

~ ~ ~

I am so extremely behind schedule for my '365 photos in 365 days' project that I'm going to need A LOT of inspiration at once if I want to catch up before the end of summer. But I will! In the mean time, here's a photo I managed to take during a lovely evening in Bled, Slovenia. Summer is in the air (even though the weather doesn't seem to admit it...).


ponedeljek, 09. junij 2014

Barva 147. dne. The colour of day 147.

Ena boljših stvari med obiskom Bruslja so vsa ta različna piva! Tole je eno najnovejših. Njegova zgodba je prav zanimiva: Nova pivovarna je naredila več prototipov nato pa organizirala zabavo, na kateri so obiskovalci te prototipe ocenjevali. Zmagal je tale, ki se ga zdaj že dobi v nekaterih lokalih. Njami. #oranžna

~ ~ ~

One of the best things about visiting Brussels is all that beer! This one is one of the most recent ones. Its story is pretty interesting: A new brewery produced several prototypes and then organised a party where people got the chance to taste and vote for their favourite prototype. This one won and you can now get it in some of the bars. Yum. #orange


Toplota 128. dne. Warmth of the 128th day.

Poleti sonce, pozimi nas pa ob mrzlih večerih v kaminu grejejo tale drva. #toplota

~ ~ ~

In summer, it is the sun but in winter, it's the firewood that keeps us warm on cold evenings. #warmth



Velikost 148. dne. Size of the 148th day.

#različno_velik

~ ~ ~

#of_different_sizes


143. dan je dan za pranje. Laundry day on day 143.

#čist

~ ~ ~

#clean


Izoliran v 141. dnevu. Isolated on the 141st day.

#izoliran
~ ~ ~
#isolated


Tak je dan 137. dne. That's the day on the 137th day.

Dnevi so v tem času prav zares čudoviti. #dan
~ ~ ~
The days are wonderful this time of year. #day


Kako pikast je 131. dan? How dotty is the 131st day?

Odkar pomnim vse, kar je pikasto, pritegne moj pogled. Pa naj bo to kos oblačila, zvezek, svinčnik, lonec, karkoli. Tale majica je bila eden mojih najbolj nedavnih pikastih nakupov. #pika

~ ~ ~

Since I can remember, anything with dots catches my attention. No matter if it is a piece of clothing, a notebook, a pen, a pot, anything. This t-shirt was one of my most recent dotty purchases. #dot



Smeh 130. dne. Laughter of the 130th day.

Poglej pobliže. Med spanjem ima usta tako privihana - videti je, kakor da se smeji. #smeh

~ ~ ~

Look closer. She's sleeping but her mouth makes such a curve - you'd think she's laughing. #laughter


Kaj je v loncu 129. dne? What's in the pot on the 129th day?

#lonec
~ ~ ~
#pot


četrtek, 05. junij 2014

Memorie a Ravenna

(English below)

Zdaj je končno prišel čas, da na tem blogu zapišem še kaj o tem, čemur je bil prvotno namenjen - mojim potepanjem po svetu. Odkar sem se vrnila iz Vietnama in tukaj začela delati, še nisem imela priložnosti odleteti kam dlje od doma. Prvomajski prazniki so bili kot nalašč za to. Štirje dnevi so dovolj za kratek skok v Italijo. In kot nalašč za urjenje moje že zakrnele italijanščine. In še bolj nalašč za prvo pravo preizkušnjo moje nove najljubše igrače, Nikona D5100!

Prvi postanek je bila Ravenna, priložnost za obujanje spominov z začetka srednješolskih let. Ravenna je odlično mesto za krajši postanek, narejeno po meri pešca in/ali kolesarja, ki za čisto navadnimi opečnatimi zidovi cerkva in mavzolejev skriva neprecenljive dragocenosti iz bizantinskih časov. Kogar umetnost in zgodovina zanimata, si mora brez dvoma omisliti skupno vstopnico v sedem ravenskih znamenitosti, za katero je treba odšteti nekaj manj kot 10 evrov. Vključuje pa: baziliko San Vitale, mavzolej Gale Placidije, Neonov baptisterij, baziliko S. Apollinare Nuovo ter nadškofijski muzej in kapelo (Cappella e Museo Arcivescovile).

Seveda se tudi tu ni moč izogniti številnim turistom, sploh v času prvomajskih praznikov. Najbolj vas zna znervirati čakanje na vstop v mavzolej Gale Placidije, ki je po mojem okusu najlepša ravenska znamenitost. Njegova slabost pa je v tem, da je tudi najmanjša ravenska znamenitost in si ga očitno prav vsi želijo ogledati. Obiskovalce zato v notranjost spuščajo po 5-minutnih intervalih. To pomeni, da skupaj z ostalimi 50 turisti (število je ocena) vstopiš, se razgledaš na vse štiri strani in že moraš ven. Škoda.

Literarni navdušenci v Ravenni ne bi smeli zamuditi obiska groba Danteja Alighierija, vendar pozor! Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'intrate...

Ravenna pa niso samo zgodovinske in umetniške znamenitosti. So tudi prijetni sprehodi po pisanih ulicah, majhni butiki in druge trgovine (opomba: ne pozabite na italijansko siesto, med 12. in 16. uro skorajda nobena trgovina ni odprta), dišeč caffelatte (ali espresso, cappuccino ... karkoli že pijete) in okusen gelato. In seveda vino. Giulia in Riccardo, gostitelja, ki smo jih našle preko portala Airbnb, sta nam priporočala obisk restavracije oz. vinske kleti Ca' de Ven in pokušino lokalnega vina sangiovese. Odločile smo se, da si najprej ogledamo znamenitosti, okoli treh popoldne pa smo se, lačne kot volkovi, odpravile tja. In seveda, tudi tam se niso izneverili popoldanski siesti. Lokal okoli enih popoldne zaprejo in ga spet odprejo šele ob šestih. Prevelika lahkota je zmagala in žal nismo uspele okusiti lokalnih znamenitosti, čeprav je bila restavracija videti več kot odlično. Tudi ljudje so iz nje odhajali široko nasmejani in zadovoljnih obrazov.

Nekje drugje smo pojedle kosilo in se potem, ker je tako ali tako deževalo, odpravile še v nek drug lokal, ki sta ga priporočila G & R, Fargo. Tam nam je tudi uspelo degustirati sangiovese. Sama sem že sploh ljubiteljica rdečega vina in to resnično ni bilo slabo!






It's finally time to dedicate some writing to the topic this blog was initially intended for - my wanderings around the world. Since I came from Vietnam and started working here in Slovenia, I haven't had the chance to fly somewhere far from home. The holidays around the 1st May were perfect for this. Four days are enough for a short escapade to our neighbour country Italy. And perfect for improving my almost forgotten knowledge of Italian. And even more perfect for the first real test of my new favourite toy, Nikon D5100!

We first stopped in Ravenna, the opportunity to reminiscence about my high school years. Ravenna is small enough for a short stop, yet it hides unbelievable treasures from the Byzantine times behind very simple brick walls of churches and mausoleums. It's also perfect for pedestrians and/or cyclists. Whoever is interested in history and art must absolutely buy the joint ticket for seven attractions in Ravenna which costs a bit less than €10. It includes: basilica San Vitale, Galla Placidia mausoleum, battisterio neoniano, basilica San Apollinare Nuovo and Capella & Museo Arcivescovile.

Of course it's quite impossible to avoid tourist crowds, especially around 1st May. You will probably be most stressed while waiting to enter the Galla Placidia mausoleum which is my favourite attraction in Ravenna. But it is also the smallest and apparently everyone wants to see it. The staff let the visitors inside for 5 minutes – this means that when you get to enter (after waiting for who-knows-how-much-time outside), you are squeezed among 50 or so other tourists, you look left and right and you have to go out.

If you like literature you won’t want to miss Dante Alighieri’s tomb in the centre of Ravenna (Dante Alighieri Street of course). But beware! Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'intrate…

But Ravenna does not only offer historical and cultural attractions. It also offers lovely walks through the streets, little boutiques (beware: do not forget the Italian “siesta”, almost all the shops and even some restaurants are closed between 12 and approx. 4 pm), nice-smelling caffelatte (or espresso or cappuccino, whatever you may be drinking) and tasty gelato. And wine of course! Giulia and Riccardo, our two lovely hosts found through Airbnb, suggested us to visit Ca’ de Ven restaurant & wine cellar and taste the Sangiovese wine and some local specialities. We decided to visit the attractions first and then around 3 pm, hungry as ever, headed there. And yeah, they too had a siesta. Until 6 pm!! We were to hungry to wait so we had to find another place to eat. A real pity because the restaurant seemed really great and people who were leaving it had big smiles on their faces.

Since it was raining we took another advice by G & R and headed to Fargo, a really lovely place to go for a drink and/or a snack. And it was there that we finally tasted Sangiovese. I am a red wine lover and this one was pretty good, I must say!