Acceptance by the City

As I was walking into the centro yesterday, I felt accepted by the city. What I mean is the city has out stretched her arms to me and will care for me. That is not to say that as I walk everyone smiles and says: "Boungiorno 'Villie, Come Sta?". No, it is not that at all. In fact most people ignore each other. Actually most everyone ignores most everyone else, except at a distance. Then when you get close the eyes get away from you. I guess culturally they feel it is impolite to look each other in the eye.

But my feeling of acceptance comes from the idea that things work out for me here. At least as far as my fitting in with the spirit of the city. (Now as for the project I am not quite sure yet) It is difficult for me to explain, but I guess that all I can do is to contrast it to what I am familiar with back home.

At home people tend more to look you in the eye and say hello or nod. Here (in the city) they do not. I notice that even in New York City I make eye contact with some people. Now don't get me wrong, it is OK that people do not look me in the eye, but I guess I am perhaps too friendly and enjoy human interaction.

I really felt the power of her 'arms' yesterday as I was photographing in the center of the street. I was directly in the median on a small dirt area the size of my tripod legs width. There were cars going everywhere around me. I had to give into the fact that the Italians are the most crazy drivers I have ever seen. I was (if you look on the left of the photo) standing (from the perspective of the cars at a distance of 30 meters) directly in the center of the road. The aim of the cars was directly at me. At the last moment they had a sharp turn to the right, thus avoiding me and sparing my life. As I say I felt one with the power of the arms of the city. Actually, as I sit here and write about it, it seems like a pretty stupid thing to do. But the image that I was rephotographing is amazing in that the big building that you see in the photo was bombed by the Germans in WW2. The original also has soldiers walking all around the frame. The only similar object is the top of the church on the right which is cut out of this frame.

When I photograph I always keep my eyes looking around me for safety of the equipment and also, in this situation, safety of my life. When I was photographing this scene I saw one of the large Carabinari (police) vans full of troops going slowly by full of cops with guns as big as my tripod hanging out all over the place. I also noticed that they were all looking at me. Just as I saw them go by I noticed the lights go on and the van pull over to turn around. I thought to myself: "Well Willie, here we go!" It took them a few seconds to turn around. Meanwhile I worked faster to try to finish the photograph before the interrogation began. Just as they swung around and headed for me I got the image captured and gave a breath of relief. Now, the next problem was to deal with the Gestapo. I started to reach for my papers and the van turned and came at me. All of a sudden...it just zoomed by. I gave another breath of relief and thanked the spirit of the city for protecting me.

I had the opportunity to go to the theater a few nights ago. A friend of mine lives close to the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. It is a grand old building of many years and seats about 1000 people. They sell 'will call' seats the day of the show for 10,000 Lire. To get advance tickets costs 70-80,000 Lire. What you have to do is to show up at 6am and put your name on a list then return at 6:45pm (sharp) and when you are called, you pay for and pick up your tickets. We did this and entered the Teatro at 8:45 and climbed up several flights of stairs to the ceiling and went into a box that had an amazing view.

They say that Wagner's (pronounced Vagner) first performance in Italy was on this stage. For me the environment was as amazing as the show, which was incredible! The balconies were all private box's that had comfortable seats and good views.

Upon arriving many of us just sat and looked around.

I was also amazed at the acoustics. It seemed that we were about 30 meters from the stage, but as the music played and I closed my eyes it felt as though they were sitting right in front of me softly playing.

The program consisted of a trio playing Haydn, Sostakovic and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Hayden (Trio in Sol maggiore Hob XV n.25) was wonderful, as usual. The lyrical flow amazed me, especially as played by the virtuosos at the instruments. The piece by Sostakovic (Trio n. 2 in mi minore Op. 67) who I had never heard of, was abstract and jagged. I usually do not like this kind of music, but this also was amazing!!! The Mendelssohn was Mendelssohn. Kind of sloshy and too Mendelssohn for me. It was performed well, but it is not my type of music.

At half time I wondered around and photographed the views.

The end of the performance involved two encores. ("Italians love encores" I was told) The evening was one that I will always remember. I hope to return again and have the honor of hearing classical music performed as it should be, in a grand hall as elegant as this.