How often one hears a place enthusiastically recommended for being “non-touristy”. My own local city in southern Spain, Malaga is often described in theses terms (by me, among many others), but until my recent visit to Reggio Emilia I hadn’t fully appreciated what “non-touristy” means. If I mention that during my four days in the city I only saw three cameras produced in anger (including my own) and that I only heard English spoken on two occasions, you begin to get the picture. But “non-touristy” is an accolade for several reasons, and all of them cliches that Reggio lived up to more than any supposedly “non-touristy” city I had previously encountered. For example, everything, but everything, from hotel rooms, to dining, to shopping was at least 20% cheaper than say, in the neighbouring – and allegedly more glamourous – city of Parma, and up to 50% cheaper than the regional capital of Bologna. And in addition to not ripping you off, most of the people are genuine, and sincerely welcoming. Moreover, there’s all the culture one would expect in a medium-sized Italian city – art (ancient and modern), churches, museums and three (yes three) thriving theatres. And as for the quality of the all’aperto atmosphere, especially in the leafy Piazza Fontanesi, of a spring evening, it was the equal of anything I have experienced.
Finally, I should also point out that Reggio Emilia’s hams and sausages are every bit as delicious as those produced in the aforementioned Parma, and as for its balsamic vinegar, it makes that brewed in nearby Modena seem thin and bland by comparison.
Reggio Emilia is famous though for two things: Being the birthplace of the national Italian flag – the Tricolore, and being a center of Lambrusco wine production, the less said about the latter, the better…well, nowhere’s perfect!
THESE DAYS, VIEWING THE ALHAMBRA PALACE IS MORE OF A CHORE THAN A JOY. THE PLACE IS SO POPULAR WITH TOURISTS THAT YOU HAVE TO PRE-BOOK DAYS AHEAD (WEEKS AHEAD IN SUMMER) FOR A “SLOT” FOR THE DUBIOUS “PLEASURE” OF SHARING ONES’S VIEWING EXPERIENCE WITH A THOUSAND FELLOW SARDINES. ON MY LAST VISIT, THE CROWDS WERE SO DENSE, ESPECIALLY AT THE PALACE ITSELF, IT FELT MORE LIKE LEAVING A FOOTBALL STADIUM THAN A GENTLE AMBLE AROUND ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS ON EARTH.
FORTUNATELY FOR ME, THIS WAS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE. ONE BALMY NOVEMBER DAY, BACK IN THE MID 1980’S, BEFORE THE NEED FOR “SLOTS”, MY THEN PARTNER AND I VIRTUALLY HAD THE PLACE TO OURSELVES AND IT REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST TREASURED “SIGHTSEEING” MEMORIES OF MY LIFE. NOT ONLY DID WE HAVE THE TIME AND SPACE TO TRULY APPRECIATE THE UNDERSTATED GLORY OF THE PALACE ITSELF, THE FRAGRANT GLADES AND PATHWAYS OF THE GENERALIFE GARDENS WERE AS TRANQUIL AND SOOTHING UPON THE SENSES AS THEY WERE DESIGNED TO BE.
THE EIGHT IMAGES HERE ARE FROM PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN DURING THAT VISIT, AND I THINK THEY CAPTURE SOMETHING OF THE SERENITY WE EXPERIENCED.
IT’S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH A DECENT CAMERA AND GOOD EDITING SOFTWARE. HERE FOR EXAMPLE, I’VE SIMPLY ISOLATED TWO OR THREE HEADS FROM A SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS. IN SOME EXAMPLES THE PROCESS MERELY INTENSIFIES THE SENSE OF AN ACTUAL HUMAN RELATIONSHIP/S OR INTERACTION/S , WHILE IN OTHERS, A POSSIBLE RELATIONSHIP IS EITHER SUGGESTED OR CREATED. THE COMMON QUALITY I’M ATTEMPTING IN ALL THE IMAGES IS A KIND OF NATURAL INTENSITY…
(cameras used: Canonet 28 / Nikon FE / Nikon D60 / Canon EOS 500d
Ever hear the one about the Australian, the Dutchman and the Englishman? No? Well neither had I until this little drive three of us (an Aussie, a Dutchman and yours truly – the pom) took from Castlemaine to Ararat and back just over a year ago. It was only a day’s drive through a small part of one of Australia’s smallest states but the variety of scenery on offer was as diverse as it was stunning. Add to that one or two quirky architectural features and it made for yet another day of photographic heaven for this wide-eyed pom…
Fr. Justin Belitz OFM is the founder of the Franciscan Hermitage and author of "Success: Full Living," "Success: Full Thinking," & "Success: Full Relating." His teachings incorporate spirituality, science, and art for personal growth and development.