The Curse of Florence!

L1001995It’s been three months since my visit to Florence, Italy, where I spent a month last summer attending a black & white film photography course from Studio Art Centers International. I shot non-stop on the streets of Florence using my film Zeiss-Ikon and digital Leica M-E for the whole of July. Florence was unusually cool for summer except for a few days when it was baking hot. The city looked even better than the last time I visited a couple of years ago.


In this past three months I haven’t touched my camera with the intention of actively seeking a photograph. This has never happened to me before, since I started taking pictures almost six years ago. I do not carry my camera every time I go out as I used to before. The feeling is not just restricted to photography. This distinct lack of interest pervades to almost everything I do. I do not feel the enthusiasm to dissect a menu and compile a meal to enjoy when I go out with friends and family. In fact I have reduced the number of times I go out with family and have altogether stopped going out with friends.

It feels like a giant void has been created inside me, by the people of Florence.

Call it the curse of Florence!






Florence Diaries. Day-28.


Made a field trip to Pisa. This is my first visit to Pisa and the place lived up to its billing as one of the seven wonders of the world. Some of the sculptures seemed to preempt the Renaissance style to me. Giovanni Pisano may be one of the most underappreciated pre-renaissance artist. The relief work on the pulpit of the Pisa cathedral seem to have a similar style of the great baptistery doors of Florence.







Can’t wait to get one of this picture off of my list.



Back to Florence in the evening and Piazza San Giovanni was packed with action.


Florence Diaries. Day-25.


For starters, couldn’t post any images in the last two days. I try and post images shot the same day and so couldn’t post since my work was focused entirely on black and white film. Some day I’ll scan those images when I am back in Doha.


Today I made the short trip to Montevarchi (near Arezzo) to visit Bottega Antonio Manta, the best print shop in Europe run by photographer and printer emeritus Antonio Manta ( Some of the Platinum/Palladium archival prints made by his workshop (bottega) are real pieces of art. You have to see them to believe them. The level of details available in the prints are unbelievable.


Shooting digital back in Firenze was fun. One of the points Antonio insisted on his documentary shoots was to always focus on the subject rather than using hyper-focal scales. I started giving it a try.


Some pets have all the fun all the time.


Firenze is a clean city but I wouldn’t advise this to anyone.



Street performers just show up from all over Europe. One day two music students just started singing and some of the onlookers started dropping coins!


Cool dads are always fun to have around.

Florence Diaries. Day-22.


Today I went on a field-trip to Lucca. Lucca is a walled city, built as a large fortress. It has medieval walls as well as walls pertaining to the Renaissance period that are thicker, mainly to withstand shelling from cannons. Lucca is a cozy town very much like Venice, sans the water. The town center is built on the ruins of an amphitheatre and so is, for a change, circular.


The intensity of tourists is high but not to the stratospheric levels found in Florence. After some time you tend to appreciate cities that have less tourists.


Mobile garden!


The locals somehow get by with the throng of tourists and I guess they appreciate the Euros that are spent by them in the shops.


A antiques fair was in full flow in Lucca as we arrived and a wide range of stuff ranging from complete dinner tables to tiny trinkets were on offer. I have been looking for an old portable typewriter that works. Sadly I couldn’t find any. All of them were large and heavy and the one portable typewriter that was available wasn’t working. It also had Gaelic characters.



Straight out from the walls.



It was a warm and muggy day with no breeze and high temperatures.


Contemplating on a late cup of coffee.

Florence Diaries. Day-21.


I lost a few files today probably because the battery was pretty low. I just want to be sure that the camera is not quite dead. It did shoot and save some test pictures later. So I guess it is after all the battery. The battery is charging and I am on a field trip to Lucca tomorrow.

Florence Diaries. Day-20.


The Galleria dell’ Academia is where the famed David by Michaelangelo is displayed in Florence. The museum is also house to a large collection of plaster casts of some of the greatest sculptures in history. A walk in the hall and you’d know the great masters had a good knowledge of the human anatomy.


The pigeons in the streets of Firenze (as any other tourist city) are not afraid of humans and get quite close to people. Children have a great time chasing pigeons.


Nothing like sharing dinner with your loving brother. I once had a kebab with a friend on the streets of Firenze and I vowed never to have a kebab (called shawarma in other parts of the Arabian world) in Firenze. It ranks as the worst food I have had in Italy, ever!


A family enjoying its evening on the pavement playing cards (kinda obvious!).