The etymology of the city’s name traces back to the Germanic tribe of the Franks, where the word “furt”, meaning “ford” (the part where the river is shallow enough to be crossed on foot), suggests that Frankfurt am Main originates as “the ford of the Franks on the Main”. A label that nowadays might not entirely suit the profile of the largest financial center in continental Europe. In fact, home to the European Central Bank and one of the world’s largest stock exchanges by market capitalization, Frankfurt is considered a global city (alpha world city) and hosts 14 out of Germany’s 15 skyscrapers. Its skyline, rare in Europe and unique in Germany, has earned it the nickname of “Mainhattan”, a portmanteau of the local Main river and Manhattan.
I’ve always liked to think that all the faces and the places we accidentally glance at on our way to anywhere must stay deep at the bottom of our eyes. That even if our memory can’t contain information about all those noses, the mouths, the buildings’ facades we have seen, they still inhabit some inaccessible unconscious place. I like to think my smile lives on somewhere in the eyes of the red-haired toddler who stared at me on the metro, in those of the old lady disapprovingly looking at my phone as I was crossing the street, in the shiny blue irises of the banker who just helped me pay my rent. And I like, at times, to challenge that forgetfulness and move those places and faces we randomly get to see, move them into a space where they can consciously affect our perceptions and ideas. So I adjust shutter speed and aperture, and shoot.
At least once in our lifetime, we all have bumped into a Smileeater.
I was visiting my friend Silvia in Düsseldorf, the German city of fashion and trade fairs, and we had just come down from its highest building, the Rheinturm (Rhein tower), after having admired the beauty of the landscape from its observation deck at a height of 170 meters. Walking away from the tower, I continuously turned my head back towards the light sculpture on its shaft, which Silvia had told me to be meant to work as a clock, the Lichtzeitpegel (light time level), the largest digital clock in the world.
“We all are storytellers”, Thomas drank the last sip of his Kupferberg, “we have always been. And life is a tale vaguely based on a real story. But now each and every one of us can have his or her voice heard by an audience”. We left the Kirschgarten and its typically German half-timbered buildings to go to Liebfrauen square, in the proximity of the imposing Mainzer Dom. It wasn’t an ordinary day in the small state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate. On a stage, a group of men in historical costumes was filling a giant wooden barrel with water.
“What are they up to?”, I asked amused. “Every year in June, since 1968 alias the 500th Continue reading →
I arrived in Cologne with a huge luggage full of dreams and expectations. After a Bachelor degree in foreign languages and communication, and a six month experience as an Erasmus student in the small German city of Saarbrücken, I was unmovable in the decision of leaving the warm wet air of my small village in the heel of the Italian boot and relocate to the land of poets and thinkers. So I reached Cologne on the first of May, a holiday. It didn’t surprise me to find all shops closed in what was a red day on the calendar, but I was quite astonished to acknowledge that the streets were deserted. Wasn’t Cologne a city with more than a million inhabitants? Where had they all gone? Apparently, the only Einheimische (locals) who bothered to give me a welcome were the two theatre figures Tünnes and Schäl. Continue reading →