Photo reportage: the yoga master

I got to Varanasi by train, at night.
I was thrown into an ocean of chaos, dirt and humanity.
It’s not up to me to explain what Varanasi is: its complexity is so tremendous that it would be presumptuous of me to give you a comprehensive picture.

But I want to tell you another story, that has little if nothing to do with it.
One afternoon in Varanasi I decided to stay away from the temples and the ghats, to avoid the tourists, the beggars and the boatmen asking if I wanted a boat ride. I got lost in a labyrinth of narrow streets and small houses that look all alike.
Around sunset, as I was still wandering in the streets, I was lucky enough to step into a yard where some boys were training. With them there was who I believe being their guru.
None of them could speak any English, unfortunately, so communication was based on instinct and hand gestures. They tried to teach me some yoga positions that I couldn’t possibly repeat, and laughed at my clumsiness. Then I made clear that I wanted to take some pictures of them, and as soon as they saw the camera they all started posing and showing me what they were capable of. Their pride and skills were undeniable, their joy contagious. Then, as the sun set below the horizon, they all left me for the evening prayer ceremony by the ghat.
This is, by far, the best set of photographs I took during my journey in India.

Miserere mei

Good Friday is the day catholics recall the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All over the catholic world grief is commemorated with images of the cross, of the beaten body of Jesus and of the mourning Virgin. It’s the day of death.

Not far from where I was born there is a beautiful little town called Vico del Gargano. I arrived there at 8 in the morning, on Good Friday. 
Every year, on that day, at that time, the members of the five local brotherhoods wear their traditional robes and start carrying around wooden sculptures of Jesus and the Virgin. They go to all the twelve churches of the old town, singing out loud gloomy and sorrowful hymns in Latin. They walk all day by foot, in penance.
It’s a day of great spiritual involvement for everyone, even for non believers like me.
This is one of the few places where these timeless and ancient traditions are still on, unchanged. And if it wasn’t for their sneakers, their smartphones and their sunglasses, it would be really hard to tell in which year you’re in.

Venice, the femme fatale

A malarian swamp, hit by the tide, seems like the worst place ever to lay the foundations of a city. Unless you have to escape the axes of the Barbarian warriors, come to burn, steal and kill. It’s the 5th century, the Roman Empire is on its knees, the system is collapsing, everybody’s on their own. It’s chaos. 
That swamp doesn’t look so bad now, does it? 

Those few miles of shallow water between Venice and the mainland are the very same reason why the city has grown into one of the most fascinating places in the world. Far from the mainland’s politics and schemes, Venice has always been different from any other place.
A city built from fear turned into a diamond embedded along the Italian east coast. 
By walking aimlessly in the narrow streets of Venice you can feel the great beauty of this timeless and unique city: the signs of its decadent splendour and its glamorous past leave you breathless at every corner. The dream of every photographer. Then suddenly the thought hits you: this is not just a city, just a location, just the venue of some events in history; Venice is itself the main character of its own story, where people and wars and events are only temporary elements of its own personal tale.

If Venice was a person, it’d be a woman. It would be the femme fatale that stares at you across a crowded room, she’d be the mysterious lady that grabs your soul and conquers you by charm. The embellished facades of the buildings become her embroidered gown, the Byzantine architecture is her jewellery, the perfume of the incense her seductive scent, the vivacity of the markets her impudent laugh, the Canal Grande the spine along which you want to run your fingers. 
Venice is the irresistible sin you want to get lost in.