Story Behind The Picture: Bougainvillea Beauty In Cannes, French Riviera

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is.” ~ Saul Bellow

I took this photo of a giant bougainvillea during a summer day in Cannes, South of France. It was the summer of 2021 and I remember that it was very hot in July (as is often the case on the French Riviera) however, I had still decided to take a tour of the town because I was in the area.

During that year, the Cannes Film Festival had been moved to the month of July because of the pandemic (it is usually always held in May) so it was still taking place on the day of my visit and the town was swarming with tourists under a blazing sun. 

I have known the city of Cannes since I was a child, when I used to spend the winter vacations with my family on the French Riviera (I was born and raised in Milan, Cannes and its neighboring towns are about four hours away from my city and my father has always loved to drive). Although we would spend time mainly in Juan-les-Pins, we would be in Cannes frequently, both in the winter time and in the warm season (Cannes is also where I celebrated my 23rd birthday). 

I have always seen Cannes as a coastal city that mixes glamour and sophistication with the beauty of nature and art; not only the luxury hotels and high fashion boutiques on the Croisette, but also the sandy beaches, the numerous buildings with movie-themed graffiti painted on their façades, the Croix de Gardes Forest Park, connected to various points from which one can enjoy breathtaking views…and the Suquet, the oldest part of the city. Prior to my trip to Cannes on that sunny day in July, I had never visited Le Suquet in person, but I had seen some very nice pictures of the neighborhood online that made me want to visit. I had been especially struck by the pictures of this giant bougainvillea that blooms in the heart of Le Suquet in the summer season, so I very much wanted to see it up close. 

Le Suquet (which means “top” in Provençal slang) stands on a sort of hill and is characterized by narrow streets that house quaint stores and typical restaurants. It is a very old neighborhood; in 1030 the monks of Lérins Abbey built the Castre Castle there, which was partially destroyed in the 18th century and went on to become a historical museum, Musée des Explorations du Monde (Museum of World Explorations).

Also in the Suquet area is the Gothic-style Notre-Dame-d’Espérance Church. Le Suquet is certainly one of the most visited places in Cannes, and having been there in the middle of summer I noticed that there were many organized groups of tourists wandering the streets of the neighborhood; the area is a bit steep but the walk is really pleasant (of course in hot weather it is best to dress in cotton, bring water and wear a hat, which may seem obvious but is essential when spending the summertime in Mediterranean areas). Also from the top of the Medieval Tower you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the Bay of Cannes to L’Estérel (a small curiosity: on clear days you can see the Massif de l’Estérel even from Italy, in fact here you can see a photo I took at sunset from my old house in Liguria, near the French border). 

It was wonderful to see this giant purple bougainvillea, which is located not far from the Notre-Dame-d’Espérance Church (outside of which is a rooftop terrace with views of Cannes and the Gulf de la Napoule) and the Museum of World Explorations. 


Nature Photography: Five Nature Pictures From My Portfolio

Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved nature and animals, although unfortunately I think I have spent relatively little time in completely natural environments. I grew up in Milan, and even though I used to live near a large park, except for a few bike trips we would sometimes take in the surrounding area, as I grew up the time spent in nature diminished considerably. This is probably due to the fact that if you grow up in an urban environment and do not plan to take trips that include farmhouses or a natural relais you lose the opportunity to be in contact with nature for a considerable amount of time.

Today I think that spending time surrounded by nature and in contact with animals is a great privilege and I try to do that as much as possible; there are some natural spaces even near the coastal city where I am currently spending a few months, but it is always a matter of planning a trip because the environment where I live is actually mostly urban. At the moment my best opportunity to spend time in nature and take photographs is in Friuli, the north-eastern Italian region where part of my family lives.

Natural environments bring great benefits to human beings, as has been proven by several studies; above all, living in areas with green spaces increases people’s sense of well-being. In addition, studying or working in contact with nature can improve attention and make us more present to ourselves. I recently read an interview by actress and musician Persia White, who has always been concerned about environmental protection and animal welfare. She told Wild Elements, ” You have to be really intentional about what you’re choosing to watch and what you’re choosing to support. […] I had this epiphany that if I followed nature accounts, and accounts where people were exploring nature, taking dives into the ocean, watching pandas roll around, that’s a beautiful thing and it makes me feel great. […] Interacting with nature, even in a small way, can be so positive.” In fact, many studies show that looking at nature, even if some times only on a screen, can be a real mood-booster.

Based on my personal experience I can confirm that Persia White has a point and I can definitely relate to her words; I am an active member of the Flickr community of photographers and I really love looking at nature-themed photos posted by other users, especially those of flower fields and animals such as chickadees and mountain hares (I rarely get to visit the mountains, so I hope to have more chances to explore them, also because having spent a lot of time by the sea in recent years I haven’t seen snow in a while). Some of the trips I would most like to take include visiting natural environments, such as lavender fields in Provence and tulip fields in Holland. In addition, I would like to visit European wine regions such as Burgundy and Monferrato because I am passionate about winemaking and viticulture, as you can read in my article on the Lorenzonetto Wine Estate in the Friuli region.

Other benefits of nature show an improvement in energy and a significant decrease in stress (which tends to increase in urban environments), as well as benefits to the immune system, sleep quality and general cognitive functions.

I cherish all the memories related to the time I have spent in nature over the years and enjoy looking back at the photos I have taken in natural environments. As with my article on sunset photography, I have decided to create a top five of my favorite photos taken in nature over the years; my entire collection, which I hope to update more often in the future, can be found on Flickr in my Nature album, which also includes my most-viewed photo that I have included in this article as well (it’s the ivy wall I photographed in the Italian town of Pisogne, near Lake Iseo). I have assigned poetry excerpts to each photo because nature has inspired many poets in their writing and it is well known that nature itself enhances creativity.

1) Snails on a Tree Cortex, Lignano Sabbiadoro (North-East Italy):

Snails On A Tree.
Snails – Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy

The Snail – William Cowper

To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall,
The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall,
As if he grew there, house and all

Within that house secure he hides,
When danger imminent betides
Of storm, or other harm besides
                                                Of weather.

Give but his horns the slightest touch,
His self-collecting power is such,
He shrinks into his house, with much

Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone,
Except himself has chattels none,
Well satisfied to be his own
                                                Whole treasure.

2) Ivy Wall, Pisogne (Northern Italy):

The Beauty of Nature.
Ivy wall – Pisogne, Italy

The Ivy Green – Charles Dickens

Whole ages have fled and their works decayed,
And nations have scattered been,
But the stout old Ivy shall never fade,
From its hale and hearty green.
The brave old plant, in its lonely days,
Shall fatten upon the past:
For the stateliest building man can raise,
Is the Ivy’s food at last.
Creeping on, where time has been,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.


Golden Hour Photography: Five Sunset Pictures From My Portfolio

I believe that the love of sunsets is something that most human beings share. The emotions one feels when watching a sunset may vary; happiness, relief, melancholy, sadness… Emotions that differ from each other but are all united by a particular beauty. It is rare that people do not stop to observe the beauty of a sunset. As I have already mentioned in this article that is a kind of homage to the art of photography, I started taking pictures as a child and the camera has always been my faithful companion, whether it was a simple disposable Kodak, a standard digital camera, a Reflex camera or a smartphone with an advanced camera (and it should be pointed out that I was also taking pictures with early models of flip phones of about 2 megapixels). However, sunsets began to be a consistent subject of my photographs only when I received my first SLR as a gift (just a couple of years after the first iPhone model came out), and over the years I have photographed hundreds of sunsets. The richest period of sunset shots dates back to the outbreak of the pandemic; at the time I was living in Bordighera, a town on the Ligurian Riviera that offers breathtaking sunsets, especially in the winter time. I had a balcony overlooking the sea so it was a prime location to observe sunsets and capture them on camera.

For this article I have decided to create a top five of my favorite sunsets photographed over the years; each sunset comes from a different location and I have assigned poetry excerpts to each picture because I believe that every sunset has something poetic about it. Also, I just realized that all the photos I have chosen were taken in Italy; this is probably due to the fact that many places in my country are famous for golden hour beauty.

More sunset pictures taken in Italy and other countries can be found on Flickr in my Sunrise & Sunset Photography album, which also includes one of my most viewed sunset photos on Flickr; it was taken in Calabria (Southern Italy) and served as inspiration for my first WordPress blog post.

1) Lignano Sabbiadoro and the Countryside (North-East Italy):

Lignano Sabbiadoro: The Beauty of Clouds

Beautiful Evening – Mary E. Nealey

I love the beautiful evening
When the sunset clouds are gold;
When the barn-fowls seek a shelter,
And the young lambs seek their fold:
When the four-o’clocks are open,
And the swallows homeward come;
When the horses cease their labors,
And the cows come home.

2) Milano Navigli (Northern Italy):

Navigli Sunset - "Milano da Bere".
Navigli “Milano Da Bere”

In Gold Lacquer by Bliss Carman

The air is flecked with filtered gold, —
The shimmer of romance
Whose ageless glamour still must hold
The world as in a trance,
Pouring o’er every time and place
Light of an amber sea,
The spell of all the gladsome things
That have been or shall be.


Five Pictures From Vincent Peters “Timeless Time” At Palazzo Reale In Milan

Emma Watson by Vincent Peters, London, 2012

As I have already mentioned in the article where I reviewed some Milan Fashion Week looks, one of the few moments free from work that I had in February was the afternoon that I visited the retrospective of German photographer Vincent Peters at Palazzo Reale. I was very excited to be able to see his work live, partly because in the preceding weeks I had read the enthusiastic opinions of friends and acquaintances who had already visited the retrospective. Vincent Peters is known for his fondness of black and white, which I personally love very much, in fact I often apply black and white to my own photos. He was perhaps one of the first to recognize how inspiration from the outside world influences the photographs he takes; he once said, “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring into the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

His images always tell a story, which can be felt even from a single shot. Alessia Glaviano, the curator of the Timeless Time retrospective, said, “Each element that converges and condenses in each of his single shots forms a layer that never loses its own identity and distinction. And in the coming together of these singular layers, here is where each of Peters’ images comes to tell a story. [Vincent Peters] is one of the great masters of telling a story even through a single, individual image.”

A photographic style reminiscent of Italian neorealism is evident in the portraits Peters has taken of film personalities such as Emma Watson, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey and others.

Rarely I have seen portraits that trigger a whole range of emotions in me; undoubtedly his photos are incredibly glamorous also because of the nature of the people photographed. I chose this series of images of Emma Watson as the opening of the article because Vincent Peters has photographed her several times over the years; all of those shots are wonderful and bring out the personality of Emma, an actress and activist who I also included in my article on inspiring women for International Women’s Day. Vincent Peters gives each of his subjects a depth that manages to reveal their inner selves. The dreamlike atmosphere of the images makes the subjects almost take on the characteristics of a deity, and we can perceive not only their charm and beauty but also a kind of fragility that shines through. The unforgettable elegance of every single picture can also be seen in his homage to Italy through the photos of the Ferrari Trento (sponsor of the event together with Boglioli Milano), symbol of Trentodoc bubbles for 120 years and part of the series of shots that close the retrospective.

A retrospective that I have truly enjoyed and of which I have gathered the five photos that I loved the most; they render better in person because of the size of the prints and it was difficult to capture them on camera because the halls were very crowded, but I hope you will appreciate the photos I have chosen, which constitute only a small part of Vincent Peters’ magic universe:

1) Adriana Lima, Monaco, 2017:

2) Scarlett Johansson, New York, 2017: