The Gates to Lapland

We are finally in Stockholm! After a long wait, caused by university exams, I can finally tell you about the capital of the Swedish nation and all I have gained from this trip in spite of the very short time, two days, that I spent there.

At first glance the city is modern, efficient and surprising, due to its canals and the many islands that are located in the Gulf around the city.
From the architectural point of view, it is in the ‘main island, Gamla Stan, where we find the old town with its narrow streets, small bars, souvenir shops and the Royal Palace that is part of a complex that houses many other government buildings as well, it occupies a third of’ the island and is considered one of the main museums of the city.

You can not define the Royal Palace a unique example local architecture because, although built in the baroque style that animated all the great courts of Europe between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we can trace its roots back to the thirteenth century when, to protect themselves from Danish Norwegian and Viking raids, Birgher Jarl built a fortress that later became the nucleus of what is now the Royal palace.

Unfortunately in the city one cannot find evidence of a distant past mainly because of the fires that regularly destroyed parts of the city, forcing it to gradually modernize.

For a fan of the Middle Ages like myself, not to find the most ancient roots of the city was a bit disappointing but, if you want to rediscover the atmosphere, the colours and the majesty of a Baroque city, Stockholm is unrivalled in the role of the great city of the north, today, as it was in the 1600.

In addition, this city, has another gem: the Wasa Museum. Very often confused with an Icelandic museum, this facility houses a whole warship dating back to 1628. Unfortunately for King Gustavus Adolphus who had commissioned it for the war against Poland, but fortunately for us who can see it today, it sank after less than a mile on her maiden voyage. The ship was to be the flagship of the king’s fleet and for this purpose it had been armed with the best guns and decorated by the finest craftsmen in the kingdom. Because of a serious error in the design, due to the requirements that the king had requested, the ship began to take on water and leaned over, soon after the inauguration shots of her 80 cannons. The wreck was rediscovered around 1950 and brought to light in the course of 30 years, to become a symbol of the city of Stockholm. The museum, in addition to the ship, has a number of detailed reconstructions of the ship environments in addition to several descriptions of the kind of life that men at sea endured in the seventeenth century.

During the tour of the city a stop is required in another of the symbolic places in Stockholm: Grona Lund. Overlooking the harbor of the city, is in fact an amusement park that when the temperatures is above zero, something that never happened during my time there, offers funny roller coaster on the water’s edge giving an incredible view across Gamla Stan and the various waterways of the city.

We could say that these are the main attractions of the city in addition to a lot of small “Swedish experiences” that leave a long lasting impression to those who decide to live them. Don’t forget the sauna and the snow bath, or the fantastic breakfasts and the famous Swedish meatballs…delicious.

Unfortunately, because of the limited time available I was not able to get an extensive experience of the nightlife in this city, but during my walking around during the first night I saw many posters of bars and pubs that, every night of the week, were offering live music from emerging groups. Being a musician myself, this filled my heart with joy, it shows that in this city bar owners have understood (the value and) the commitment that emerging musicians put into their work and promote them. Another example of an attitude from which all can learn a lot from.

The days that followed my stay in Stockholm led me to Kiruna, 250 kilometres in the Arctic Circle, in search of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), so stay tuned for more Arctic adventure !!

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La Porta per i Ghiacci

Eccoci finalmente a Stoccolma ! Dopo una lunga attesa (causata dagli esami universitari) posso finalmente parlarvi della Capitale della nazione Svedese e di tutto quello che mi ha lasciato nonostante il pochissimo tempo, 2 giorni, che le ho dedicato.

Ad un primo impatto la città si presenta moderna, efficiente e sorprendente grazie alle sue vie d’ acqua e alle isole che si trovano nel golfo che la ospita . Dal punto di vista architettonico è nell’ isola principale, Gamla Stan, che rintracciamo la città vecchia: vie strette, piccoli locali e il palazzo reale che, in un complesso che ospita molti altri edifici di potere, occupa un terzo dell’ isola e rappresenta una delle principali strutture museali della città. Non lo si può definire un uninicum perché, anche se intriso di quel gusto baroccheggiante che animava tutte le grandi corti d’Europa tra il seicento ed il settecento, possiamo rintracciare le sue radici indietro fino al tredicesimo secolo quando, per proteggersi dalle incursioni norvegesi danesi e vichinghe, Birgher Jarl costruì una fortezza destinata a diventare il nucleo di quello che oggi è il palazzo reale.

Purtroppo nella città non si riescono a trovare testimonianze di un passato così lontano principalmente a causa degli incendi che regolarmente la distruggevano in parte costringendola via via a modernizzarsi. Per un appassionato del medioevo come il sottoscritto non ritrovare le più antiche radici della città è stato un pochino deludente ma se si vuole ritrovare l’atmosfera, i colori e l’imponenza di una città barocca, Stoccolma non ha rivali nel presentarsi come il baluardo del grande nord oggi come nel 1600.

Questa città poi, nasconde un’ altro gioiello: il Wasa Museum. Confuso molto spesso con un museo islandese, questa struttura ospita un intera nave da guerra risalente al 1628 che, sfortunatamente per il re Gustavo Adolfo che la aveva commissionata per la guerra contro la Polonia (ma fortunatamente per noi ) è affondata dopo neanche un miglio durante il suo viaggio inaugurale. La nave doveva essere l’ammiraglia della flotta del re e per questo era stata armata con i migliori cannoni e decorata dai più fini artigiani del regno ma a causa di un grave errore di progettazione, dovuto alle specifiche che i re aveva richiesto, la nave ha iniziato a imbarcare acqua e a inclinarsi subito dopo la salva inaugurale dei suoi 80 cannoni. Il relitto è stato riscoperto intorno al 1950 e riportato alla luce nel giro di 30 anni per diventare un simbolo della città stessa di Stoccolma. Il museo, oltre al relitto, ospita una serie di dettagliate ricostruzioni degli ambienti della nave a cui si aggiungono descrizioni sulla vita che gli uomini facevano in mare nel diciassettesimo secolo.

Continuando la nostra visita della città è necessaria una fermata in un altro dei luoghi simbolo di Stoccolma: Grona Lund. Affacciato sul porto della città sta infatti un luna park non troppo grande che quando le temperature sono sopra lo zero, cosa mai successa durante la mia permanenza, offre simpatiche montagne russe a pelo d’acqua che danno una vista incredibile su tutta Gamla Stan e sulle varie vie d’acqua della città.

Si potrebbe dire che queste sono le attrazioni principali della città a cui si aggiungono una marea di piccole “esperienze svedesi” che lascino un indelebile ricordo a chi decide di viverle. Purtroppo a causa del poco tempo e della stanchezza non sono riuscito ad avere una piena esperienza di quella che è la vita notturna di questa città ma durante i miei giri ho visto moltissime locandine di bar e pub che ogni sera della settimana offrivano musica dal vivo di gruppi emergenti e questo, in quanto musicista io stesso, mi ha riempito di gioia testimonia che in questa citta’ sono riusciti a capire il valore e l’impegno che i musicisti emergenti mettono nel loro lavoro e a valorizzarlo, un altro esempio di mentalità da cui imparare molto.

I giorni che hanno seguito la mia permanenza a Stoccolma mi hanno portato a Kiruna, 250 kilometri nel circolo polare artico, a caccia dell’ aurora boreale quindi continuate a seguirmi per un po di avventura tra i ghiacci !!

The Sense of Car Fashion

As I wrote a few days ago, I would like to write not only about travel, so now I would like to take a small step in a different direction and start a debate, with my dear readers, about the many amazing things that might be happening around us, to which we might not always pay attention to.
I would like to talk about the “sense of fashion”.

During the past year and a half I had the chance to follow several fashion shows, as a street photographer, during fashion week in New York City, London and Milan. This gave me the opportunity to observe a world that was completely foreign to me. As a photographer (one who should be able to use a critical eye for everything that involves aesthetics), I started to see what was actually being created in the street and noticed the red wire that linked the outfits of the various people whom I saw attending these events.

I realized how a trend in fashion, can offer subtle guidelines on the way one should dress. Thus, a colour, a specific material, a particular piece of clothing, a style, are all components used by those who decide to follow a trend. Some users then mix, overlap and even break these guidelines to the point that ordinary people, not stylists, can create a personal style that joins and at the same time separates those who decide to use that particular trend.

The freedom to individually experiment with and  manipulate a trend,  creates unique styles and on the street, the people that create them can then compare their stylistic approach with others and always come up with something new, making creativity, not homologation what motivate their unique choices.

I needed this long and winding introduction to  express what for me, I repeat for me, should be the fashion industry and to explain what all this has to do with the automobile industry.

This is not the place to talk about heroes of the steering wheel, the compression ratios or machine torque, but since it is a discussion on aesthetic, I would like to tell you about one of the things that fascinate me most: car design, which over the years, has combined two disciplines, which by nature were antagonist: art and engineering.

In this world full of creativity, copying is forbidden, not only it is prohibited but it is also against the law. This has prompted designers and engineers to constantly seek to find new designs using the other’s  idea to add ​​“more forms” and “new dimensions” in their work.

This constant search for excellence, has created masterpieces on wheels since the time in which man had the idea to attach a motor to a carriage, and will continue to grow until the wind and the sun will power our cars.

Thanks to the challenge and the competition, ideas have improved and evolved giving us, first the amazing “concept cars” and then the cars that we could buy or admire in the street in the hands of the lucky ones.

The point of all this talk lays  in the following conclusion. My idea is that the world of fashion today could learn from the world of cars and aspire to that utopian creative storm that I suggested a few paragraphs above, where I spoke about having innovation and not imitation and this applies to both designers and all those who will choose to wear their clothes.  As you can not imagine a world in which all drive the same car I cannot see how we can accept a world in which all dress alike.

After this short reflection, I would like to propose a small topic on which to exchange ideas: When does something becomes a Classic? In the world of cars as in fashion, there are different styles that characterize a ‘very specific era” and some have entered our imagination as classics, while others simply appear old.

What stimulates then in our imagination the association of something used in a specific moment in the past, like a certain way of speaking, a jargon and what makes us accept it as representative of that time?

I think that having a style and comparing  it with what the market has to offer today is the best way to understand what the past has given us  compared to what more the present can offer.

On this matter I’m interested in as many opinions as possible because I’m always trying to open up to more points of views,  so feel free to send me your ideas on fashion, aesthetics  and creativity.  I’ll be more than happy to read you and discuss them with you.

The next article  will be business as usual, and I will take you through the streets of Stockholm where I’ve just been. So  continue to follow me to make a nice tour of the capital of the Swedish kingdom !!