Somewhere I have never travelled..

…Gladly beyond any experience.

I have recently started to suffer with insomnia, rarely sleeping more than a few hours a night. One of my readers (hello Kenneth!) suggested imagining a journey to a place I have visited or would like to visit as a way of drifting off. And so I find myself in those hollow morning hours (or The Hour of the Wolf as Ingmar Bergman so brilliantly put it) travelling to places I know and love and also those imaginary places of the past which no longer exist or the cities of my mind where I have yet to venture.

I know them well. Those New York drugstores illuminated late at night on street corners where you can get a coffee or an ice cream sundae. There are the neon signs and theatres to discover on Times Square in the 1920s. There is always a film I want to see at the all night cinema and I can observe the lights of the apartments whizzing past from the Third Avenue El.

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Esther Bubley

Nina Leen

In L.A, there are the dazzling headlights to admire from the hills, Schwab’s pharmacy, Romanoff’s and the Brown Derby if there’s a free table, palm lined avenues and morning walks in the grounds of the Griffith Observatory. Sometimes the Hollywood sign still reads Hollywoodland.

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In San Francisco, I imagine the winding roads of Hitchcock’s Vertigo and those shadowy streets which Fred Lyon captured so brilliantly. Or hear the music in the jazz club visited by the ill-fated Edmund O’Brien in D.O.A.

Fred Lyon

And of course there is Paris in its greatest times. The hotel rooms you can live in so cheaply can be rather cold and dingy but you only need to walk a short distance to be enveloped in the warmth of the Flore or the Deux Magots as you sit and write on the first floor. There are books to borrow from the original Shakespeare and Company or something in French if you prefer from Adrienne Monier’s ‘La Maison des Amis des Livres’. And at night, there are strolls along the wide avenues, sometimes even climbing the steep flights of stairs up to Montmartre to observe the city at your feet, other times wandering by the Seine to admire the Pont Neuf.

James Joyce and Sylvia Beach

Roger Schall

André Kertész

In Venice, I think of the poet Joseph Brodsky who went there every year, generally in winter, arriving for the first time late at night by train, smoking and drinking coffee in the station cafe while he waited for someone to meet him, as described in his exquisite book ‘Watermark’.


Gianni Berengo Gardin, 1960

All of this makes me a hopeless romantic or a misguided nostalgic for something I never knew, depending on your viewpoint. The past was never this wonderful in reality, I’m fully aware. And yet as I drift between wakefulness and sleep, I think about the spaces we need to think and exist which are missing in today’s cities, how much has been lost and how much we need to save and feel glad that these invisible cities are still accessible to us in books, films, photos and perhaps even in dreams.

The Richfield Oil Tower, Los Angeles


Venice, Part 3


The third and final part of my photo journal from Venice.



After heading down to St. Mark’s for my usual 7am photoshoot, I made my way to the railway station and took the train to Vicenza. It’s always a curious sensation seeing the lagoon alongside the railway lines and an even stranger sensation to leave the station and walk along normal tree lined streets with cars and buses. Vicenza is just 45 minutes away but feels like a different world. It was lovely to escape the crowds and walk leisurely through a regular city without worrying about getting lost or jostling with masses of tourists. Although I didn’t manage to see Palladio’s beautiful Villa Rotonda which lies a little outside the centre, there are many opportunities to admire his elegant facades and the highlight has to be a visit to his final project, the Teatro Olimpico which was not completed until after his death. Nothing from the outside can prepare you for the interior, particularly the extraordinary trompe-l’œil scenery which gives the illusion of great depth.








From Italy with love





Last days in Venice






I miss the markets


The equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni outside Santi Giovanni e Paolo



The vast basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo



At the Peggy Guggenheim museum









Some photos from the Chanel exhibition at the Ca’ Pesaro, ‘The Woman Who Reads’. Highly recommended!

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One last view and then it was time to leave. A blue morning to match my mood.

Venice, part 2

IMG_1900 As promised, more photos from my trip. It seems strange to think I was there just one week ago – everything since my return has been rather chaotic and there’s a sharpness in the air and a real feeling of autumn here. I’m glad to be able to return to the beautiful skies and see the light of Venice again.

San Giorgio Maggiore and La Giudecca




The interior of Palladio’s masterpiece.



The view from the top of the campanile of San Giorgio.







La Giudecca


Santa Maria della Salute



I love the brightly coloured houses and canals of this island, as well as its crooked wooden spire, but come early to avoid the huge numbers of people later on.









Just a short hop across the lagoon lies Torcello with its byzantine church, so beautifully described by Ernest Hemingway who stayed on the island while he was writing ‘Across the River and Into the Trees’. I loved seeing the stunning mosaics of Santa Maria Assunta, climbing the ramps to the top of the tower to look out over the watery landscapes around and walking among the Cypress trees and Oleander in this place which time seems to have forgotten.










Isola San Michele

As ridiculous and morbid as it may sound, this cemetery on an island has been my favourite place in Venice since I first went there, back in 2009. It’s a refuge from all the noise and crowds, a place to sit and reflect. Taking the boat there from Fondamente Nuove always makes me think of Boecklin’s famous painting, The Isle of the Dead.










Poetry left by Brodsky’s grave.





I always find the sight of these ballet shoes tied around Diaghilev’s grave so moving.


My favourite spot on San Michele.



While waiting for the vaporetto to take me back to the mainland, I saw the most beautiful evening sky and knew I had to capture it.

Venice, part 1


I left the apartment in San Polo in darkness each morning, scuttling past the street sweepers and those going to work to congregate with fellow photographers, armed with tripods, on the Rialto or Saint Mark’s Square, awaiting the moment when the sky would change from dark blue to an ever more intense pink, until finally the first golden rays touched the tops of the buildings. Walking back, I stopped to pick up fresh cornetti filled with jam, custard or almonds.



Returning to Venice after four years, I rediscovered old friends like the St. Mark’s Basilica, San Giorgio Maggiore and Il Redentore, Caffè Florian, the Accademia Bridge, the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation and my favourite place, Isola San Michele, where Cypress trees stand like tapered church candles watching over the souls of Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Brodsky and my father, whose ashes my mother and I scattered on our trip there last time.


But there was also the joy of seeing new places like Burano, Torcello and a day spent in Vicenza.

I became so used to the movement of the the vaporetti that I can still feel the sensation of being on the water three days after getting back, as if I had really become part of the city. When the moment came to leave, tears rolled down my face without knowing the reason why – perhaps moved by so much beauty or perhaps overcome by the emotions and sadness of four years ago. It’s impossible to describe all that I saw and felt there so I’ll share some photos with you in the next few posts which I hope will bring back good memories or inspire you to take a trip to La Serenissima soon as well.




Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus – Peace be unto you, Mark, my evangelist. The Latin motto of Venice.


Il Ponte dei Sospiri


First breakfast


Dramatic view of San Giorgio Maggiore





One of the mosaics located on the exterior of St. Mark’s Basilica



At Florian’s



Tartufo and, in the background, cioccolata calda


When I left Florian’s, the musicians outside were playing Scott Joplin

Old stars in Venice

Venice ended my longest ever relationship. Well, that and a sinus infection. The trip to Italy had been his idea and against my better judgement, I decided to go. It was November, I was already feeling ill and the cracks were showing in our relationship. He was a tax lawyer who loved mountains and spending as little money as possible while I had grown tired of the great outdoors and loved buying dresses and going to the cinema every afternoon. We were supposed to have only one day in Venice to go to the Biennale and would camp close to Vicenza the day before. Whether it was real or psychosomatic, I really don’t know, but a terrible nausea overcame me and I decided not to do anything as ridiculous as camping in winter and checked myself into a four star hotel in Venice where he refused to accompany me.

I have never forgotten the magic of those first impressions or the love I felt for the city. In a way, Venice spoiled me by showing that I didn’t have to do things I no longer enjoyed, that I was much better off alone appreciating its beauty. So when we met the following morning, I told him we were through and began the long train journey back to Berlin, feeling sadder than I had thought I would be and still really ill. I missed the last train to Berlin and spent a miserable few hours in a waiting room at Leipzig station among the drunks and homeless because I was too broke to get another hotel room, trying and failing to sleep a little with my head on my suitcase before waking up bleary eyed and confused to get a train at 4am. I have never forgotten the relief at finally getting into my bed in Charlottenburg and the long sleep which brought me some relief.

In a couple of weeks, I’m heading to Venice again and I can’t tell you how excited I feel about returning there (though hopefully with less dramatic circumstances). Of course, one of things I’m most looking forward to is going for walks through those labyrinthine streets, particularly early in the morning, and taking photos. Before the tourists arrive, it’s wonderful seeing the locals getting off the boats and going for an espresso before starting work.

I’ll be staying at the same apartment as last time, close to the Rialto and the market where I went each day to buy fish, fruit and vegetables. I go to Caffè Florian on St. Mark’s Square as often as possible, get an ice cream from Grom or from Rosa Salva opposite the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (although ice cream in Venice seems to be good everywhere) and love to walk along Fondamente Nove before taking the boat across to Isola San Michele. Last time I was in Venice, I even got the chance to go to the Film Festival on the Lido to see Terence Malick’s beautiful but baffling ‘To the Wonder’. Thinking about it made me want to revisit some old photos with great stars which is probably the next best thing if you can’t come with me.

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Maria Callas at the festival in 1957

Alain Delon getting some close-ups of pigeons

Monica Vitti stands with Michelangelo Antonioni in Venice in 1964.:

Michaelangelo Antonioni and Monica Vitti in 1964

American actor Warren Beatty pictured outside the Excelsior Hotel  in 1965. The hotel was ...:

Warren Beatty and girlfriend in front of the Excelsior Hotel in 1965

Legendary American actor Paul Newman, wearing a tuxedo and a bow tie during a trip on a water taxi with St. Mark Square in the background, Venice 1963

Paul Newman, 1963

Later, donning a hat,  Gene Tierney tries her hand at rowing a gondola. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven

Gene Tierney having a go at rowing a gondola in 1951

Taken around 1960, Elizabeth Taylor and her then husband, singer Eddie Fisher, on holiday on Burano Island in the lagoon at Venice

Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher on Burano

Toshiro Mifune is 2 times named best actor at the Venice Film Festival for "Yojimbo" (1961) and "Barbarossa" (1965):

Toshiro Mifune on St. Mark’s with a few feathered friends

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Marcello Mastroianni with Anna Karina in 1967

Sophia Loren attends the Venice Film Festival, 1955.:

Sophia Loren at the Festival in 1955

Claire Bloom and Rod Steiger in 1963

Cocteau and Orson Welles 1948 Venice:

Orson Welles and Jean Cocteau in 1948