[Video] Why the Arts (should) matter – A Christmas wish

[Photo by Joseph Phillips from Pexels]

Hello wanderers!

Christmas is fast approaching and I’ve created a new video for you! As you might have heard, London is back into lockdown and this time it’s a very strict one (Tier 4), but I’m happy I had the chance to wander around the city when things where still not as bad as now, and managed to shoot some footage of the lovely Xmas lights that this city offers. But in my new video you will not only see Xmas lights. You will also see beautiful West End theatres with their doors painfully shut. Let me explain why.

In my previous video, “8 lessons I’ve learned in 2020”, I’ve narrowed down to 8 the hundreds things this tough year taught me, trying to mention those who where pretty much relatable for everyone. But there’s another important lesson, that as an artist myself I could not let slip unmentioned. The treatment that my category received from the UK Government since the pandemic started, and various other statements from politicians, institutions and media made me realise that, as artists and creatives, we still have a big stigma to fight: the stigma of being NON-ESSENTIAL. Of not being considered real workers. Just people that play around, having a lot of fun. Some kind of eternal Peter Pans that never wanted to grow up and find “a real job”. And as someone who spent his adolescence/young years nurturing his passion for the Arts, studying and educating myself, working hard to pay my studies and invest in my projects, this is unacceptable.

How does this stigma translated into political actions? Well, from the start of the Covid emergency here in the UK we saw a huge disparity between the help and the criteria set up for salaried workers and for self-employed workers. Many self-employed, artists and theatre workers have fallen into the cracks of a system that didn’t take into consideration a lot of aspects of an artist’s “work contract”, and they got no support. When things where finally reopening, it was perfectly acceptable to have a shopping mall packed of people, or an airplane full with no distancing, but theatres were imposed such strict requirements that many of them couldn’t find convenient reopening at all. The treatre industry was helped with a lump sum of money only after petitions and campaigns from thousands of workers who had lost their jobs. But it was a help to theatres, not a help to the single workers. Because the Government never lose the occasion to remark how they think that “the artists are not viable”, that we “should retrain and find another job”. We have also been called “low-skilled”. What does it even mean? Who decides that a person who works in retail or enters data on a computer is more “skilled” than someone who can sight-read a musical score, play an instrument, write a script?

All this made me reflect about the value and the importance of the Arts, and probably never as much as now I feel passionate about it. As a starting point for the creation of my video I’ve asked my Instagram followers “How did the Arts help you in life?”, and the replies I got were incredible. “They gave me confidence and purpose”, “they helped me express what I couldn’t handle otherwise”, “they made me find myself and helped me show the best part of me”, just to mention a few.

My education in the Arts allowed me to come out of the shell of a shy and introvert young man, it gave me a tool to express myself with confidence, it comforted me and nourished my soul. My theatrical training taught me to trust people and work in a team, it taught me discipline and curiosity, it fuelled me with a hunger for culture and self-improvement, it instigated me to think outside the box and not be scared of being different.

How can the Arts be considered something “superfluous” in a society? Try for a second to think of how life would be without Arts and creativity. No music, no movies, no theatre, no books, poetry. No photography, visuals, graphic designs.

This video is a letter to Santa Claus, but it’s mainly a heartfelt declaration of love to the Arts and Culture and a sincere wish for a world that recognises the value that they bring to the society.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please like/comment/share/subscribe 🙂 See you soon and have a very Happy Christmas!!!

[Video] “8 Lessons I’ve learned in 2020” + blog news!

“Lockdown. Quarantine. Self-isolation. Social distancing. Life in times of Covid-19. …What did you learn from 2020?”

Hello Wanderers! It’s been a while, I know.

This year had a completely unexpected turn since the very start, didn’t it? I guess a pandemic wasn’t in the cards of any TV horoscope man, nor in any of our New Year’s resolutions lists… And yet it happened, and we had to deal with it, change our plans and our perspectives, let go of something, adjust, survive. Learn.

Life has many ways of teaching us a lesson, and this was quite a brutal way but it definitely taught us something. When I asked my followers on my Instagram stories what lesson they have learned from the past year I got all kinds of answers. Some hilarious ones, revolving around having a good stock of wine at home mainly (which is sooo relatable!), other ones very personal but surprisingly appliable to all of us. From those answers emerged a common urge for self-improvement (being more productive, stop procrastinating, invest on our own project…), but also a desire for a better world, populated of better human beings. Someone in the middle of the first lockdown said “we will come out of all this as better people than we were before”. I want to hope so. It sure will be so if we are smart enough to learn the lessons that this year taught us.

I made a video about it! In this eight minutes of comedy, stumbling on French words, saucy confessions, mental health talks, tripod smashing and much more, I share with you a bit of my 2020 experience, open-heartedly. The challenges I went through, but most of all the lessons I’ve learned. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, feel free to like/share/comment/subscribe! 🙂

Also I have an important announcement about this blog, that comes from a necessary adjustment to this year’s events. “The Artful Wanderer” was born mainly as a travel related blog: I wanted to share my experiences, tips and suggestions about cities and countries in the world, gathered during my time performing abroad and my personal holiday trips. But then Covid-19 happened. What to do of a travel blog in times where travelling freely is not possible? This was the question… Well, I decided to make a change, a small but significant shift. My activity as a blogger will not be limited to travel stories anymore, but it will embrace a broader range of topics. Which is a risk, because it will mean to get more personal sometimes too. But I think I’m ready for this step, in a way I’ve already started creating videos in which you can hear more of my “voice”. We need connection. We need to share thoughts, feelings, impressions, not only information and visuals. We need empathy, kindness, human interaction.  “The Artful Wanderer” will not only physically wander around the world when possible, but he will talk about the endless wander (funny how similar to “wonder” it sounds) that life itself is. And I will reveal more of the person behind the pseudonym, which is me, Carlo. I will use this blog for the written word, but most of all, my YouTube Channel. So please, if you want to follow and support me during this new chapter don’t forget to subscribe the channel! I’ll make sure to always create good and interesting content!

Thank you all! And enjoy “8 Lessons I’ve learned in 2020” 🙂

[Video] Watch my short movie “MOVING (to, through,on)”

This video is called “MOVING (TO, THROUGH, ON)”.

Some time ago I started collecting footage of me during some of my trips abroad, in which I was using all kinds of transportation (buses, taxis, tuk-tuks, boats…) because originally I wanted to create a video about the concept of ‘moving’.

When Covid-19 emergency started no one could predict that travelling would be no more a viable opportunity for months and months. All of a sudden the freedom to explore the world stopped.

Now that things are slowly reopening but we are still far from having a total freedom of movement, I decided to take that original idea and give it a new meaning, transforming it into a video that wants to reflect the times we have lived and we are still living. And I wanted to dedicate this video to all the travellers, the wanderers at heart, the free spirits, the seafarers, the itchy feet. While we wait to be able to travel freely once again, and write new exciting travel stories.

Hope you like it, and if you do, feel free to share it and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

See you all soon!

[Video] Ha Long Bay cruise by junk boat!

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Hello Wanderers!

One year ago exactly I was cruising Ha Long Bay on board what they call a “junk boat” (a modern version of the slow sailing ships originally from China): it was one of the highlights of my stay in Vietnam, such a marvellous experience. Back then I had created a video about it for this blog, but never managed to post it. Time passed and I couldn’t find it anymore, until today, when it magically resurfaced from a hard disk I had forgotten about! So, bizarrely enough, after one year exactly here’s the video of that magical experience!

Ha Long Bay is considered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of The World, and it was nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The name means “where the dragon descends into the sea” and it comes from an ancient legend, according to which a giant dragon appeared once to help the local people in their fight against Northern invaders. After they achieved victory the dragon remained, turning into a fence of rocky limestone islets as protection for further invasions.

When my junk boat cruise started, the weather was not promising and when it started raining I thought “here we go, my usual luck…”… but after we visited the Thien Cung cave (majestic grotto of stalactite, not to be missed, absolutely stunning!), the sky cleared up and the vessel kept gliding along those beautiful rocks and cliffs until sunset.

If you are planning a trip to Vietnam you absolutely have to cruise Ha Long Bay by junk boat. And now, enjoy my little video from that awesome experience!

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[Video] Video-diary of my weekend in Brighton!

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Hello Wanderers!

I know, it’s been a long time since my last post, but life got a bit in the way 😀 But I’m finally back with two brand new posts! I’ve spent a lovely weekend in Brighton some time ago and I’ve prepared this little video-diary to show you some highlights of this awesome UK city, perfect in the summer but fantastic all year round. If this video tickles your curiosity then you absolutely should check my list of…

31 things you’ll find in Brighton that will never make you want to leave!

You’ll find pictures, useful links, tips and suggestions about food, places to go and things to see!

But now it’s time to press play and see me loving my life by the seaside 😀 Enjoy!

 

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[Video] Hiking the Hill of St. John in Kotor, Montenegro

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Hello Wanderers!!!

Here I am back on these pages, ready to collect and share new adventures and travel stories! I apologise once again for not having posted lately, but I was extremely busy rehearsing and setting up all the shows I will perform on Silver Muse until March 2019 🙂 The adventure on board has started and so far it was really rewarding, in terms of performing and ports of call we were able to visit.

After a lovely little time in Italy, where I’ve enjoyed great Limoncello in Sorrento, walked along the streets of my grandma’s childhood in Palermo and soaked up the eternal beauty of Venice’s canals (see my Instagram for shots and stories!), I’ve ticked off another country from my list: Montenegro! One day only, spent in the city of Kotor.

Kotor is considered a UNESCO Heritage Site, and you can trace back its history from the Roman Era (although the fortification that gives the city its charming character started in the early Middle Ages). After a walk in the city, my friends and I went for the number one must-do things in Kotor: we hiked the Hill of St. John to the top, following the impressive fortifications that include gates, towers, ramparts, bastions, a little chapel and even a castle! All beautifully preserved and in communion with the surrounding nature, offering the tourists breathtaking views of the panorama, below and all around.

Who knows me knows that I’m dramatically unfit for any kind of sport activity, but I decided to go for the hiking and take pictures and videos, so that you can all see me struggling and panting all the way through the 1355 steps and steep slopes of the hill. Here’s a little video I’ve put together just for you Wanderers! I hope you enjoy it, and if you are in Kotor and want to go for this I suggest you to carry a light backpack with plenty of water, sunscreen and… a raincoat! (Yes, we were caught in a rainstorm on the way back down and I even slipped and fell with my bum on the floor, so please wear shoes that have a good grip because the steps become slippery 😉 ).

See you soon with another post, this time dedicated to my days in lush Croatia!

[Video] My Dublin Days – What to see, to do, to look for in Dublin!

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Hello Wanderers!

I’ve just returned after my four-day city break to Dublin (actually to Dundalk first and then Dublin)! My first time ever in Ireland, which means I can add it to my list of countries visited so far, reaching the count of 39 (applause, epic Oprah music, confetti shower, hand waves with teary eyes).

Dublin, a capital that is so full of character and so human-friendly, with a pace of life distant light years from rat-racey London. A city that maintains a village feel, with its buildings that don’t aim to scrape the sky, its evergreen pub culture, its coloured doors. Oh those lovely doors! History says it was a way for the residents to put their personal flair to the strictly structured Georgian constructions; legend wants that it was an easy trick to be able to find their house when drunk, on the way back from the pub.

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Immersed in tradition, but at the same time a city that is undergoing a huge development, especially in the zone around the Grand Canal Docks: after a long walk surrounded by red brick houses and swans gliding peacefully on the waters we reach an area that reflects (still in its own particular way) the structure of London docklands, with modern buildings of multinational companies and mirror-windowed offices, flown over by flocks of seagulls. The feeling is that, after the surely risky and clumsily conducted Brexit manoeuvre, many important international companies are now transferring their operational headquarters from the UK to Ireland, setting up the country to a huge renaissance in terms of jobs and economic opportunities.

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I want to thank my wonderful locally based friends Herachya and Gianluca, that made me feel at home and made my Irish days memorable, helping me discover the best of places, food and things to do. So, would you guys know what I saw and did in Dublin and what I recommend? Cool, first of all…

Trinity College

You really shouldn’t miss this. The University’s green and cobbled internal yard is luxurious (especially on a sunny morning, and I was so lucky with the weather on those days, can’t believe it!) and you can breathe in the magnificence of the elegant buildings where Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett have studied. The College’s Library treasures original medieval gospel manuscripts (go and see the exhibition about the Book of Kells! Entrance is 13 euro, but you can see the incredibly detailed creation process of the book, from the stretch of calfskin to create the vellum, to the decorating work), and one of the most impressive book chambers worldwide: it’s called The Long Room (long indeed: 65 metres) and it houses two hundred thousands original books. You enter the room and you smell history. And the jawdropping arched ceiling, raised in 1860, will allow you to take stunning pictures!

The Spire

I’ve asked my friend Gianluca “where shall we meet?”, and he promptly replied “where all the people in Dublin meet: at the Spire!”. In O’Connell Street it’s impossible to miss this huge stainless steel monument. 120 metres high, like a gigantic whale tooth that rises to the sky (not really matching the style of the surrounding buildings, to be honest, but it’s an interesting contrast), the Spire replaced Nelson’s Pillar, destroyed by an IRA bombing in 1966. The monument illuminates the night sky in Dublin… and its tip swings when the wind is strong, sometimes up to 1,50 metres! (It’s perfectly safe, I just wanted to scare you a bit). Oh, don’t even bother trying to take a full picture of it, if not from a ridiculous distance (and even at that point, it will just look like a random lamp post).

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Temple Bar

Temple Bar is the area on the south bank of the river where the most of Dublin’s artistic and cultural life takes place: live music, theatre, cinema and multimedia institutes and events, and a vibrant night life. Hallmark of this gorgeous area is of course The Temple Bar Pub , another to-go place in Dublin if you really want to get the feeling of the city.

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Statues of Dublin

Dublin is literally full to the brim of statues! It could be a nice game to play, walking around with friends and trying to spot them first. The James Joyce statue seems to stare at the Spire with a skeptical face, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Oscar Wilde chilling on a rock in Merrion Square. Fun fact: Dubliners love to give quirky (and sexual) nicknames to statues and monuments, so that the statue of Molly Malone (heroine of a traditional Irish song) is often called “the Tart with the Cart”, James Joyce is addressed as “the Prick with the Stick” and the huge Spire column is commonly known as “the Pole in the Hole”, “the Stiffy at the Liffey” or even “the Erection at the Intersection”.

The National Gallery

What a gem! I highly recommend to spend a couple of hours admiring this amazing collection of the finest artworks by artists such as Perugino, Rembrandt, Degas, Monet, and of course some real Irish masterpieces by Jack B. Yeats. I was mesmerised by the colour tones of two of the big rooms (one red, one teal), and how this precious gallery manages to merge a stunningly modern architecture and overall concept with timeless art from the past. Absolutely beautiful and FREE ENTRY (subscriptions are of course welcome).

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Embrace the pub culture to the fullest

Basically all the blogs and guidebooks list a visit to the Guinness Storehouse as a must-do thing in Dublin. Well, sure, if you are interested in seeing the whole process of preparation of this iconic beer it might be a nice experience, but tickets are quite pricey (around 18 euro) and it would take a chunk of your time in the city that you might prefer to use for other activities on a budget. What I suggest you is to scrap the Guinness Storehouse, and instead have your dinner meals at pubs that brew their own selection of beers: don’t miss for example the pubs of Galway Bay Brewery Company , that offer a delicious chocolate stout and vibrant red ales, along with finger licking pub food. If you have the chance (and if you feel young and reckless) sign up for a pub crawl. Pubs tell you a lot about the spirit of this city, the big heart of the people who live in it and the traditions of the whole country.

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And a few more tips:

  • Stroll in St. Stephen’s Park – it’s a gorgeous green space, and if you’re lucky with the weather it would be one of the most pleasant moments of your holiday.
  • Churches and Cathedrals – they are fantastic, I wish I had more time to visit all of them properly…
  • Enter Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre – the interiors of this mall look like a giant liberty style train station. Very Instagrammable.
  • Support local art – I already mentioned live music and theatre events, but if you want to bring home some exclusive pieces of Irish art & design I suggest you to visit the Jam Art Factory in Dublin zone 2, where you find fine art prints and decorative objects for a very affordable price!
  • Go for one-day getaways: Dublin is the perfect starting point to go and explore other marvellous areas in Ireland, reachable by train in one hour or so. The stunning Cliffs of Moher, Connemara and Galway City, Glendalough, Newgrange… If you have more than three days to spend in Dublin you might consider a day for one of these trips, you’ll be rewarded.

And this is all for now, but I can’t leave you without a little video-diary I’ve prepared for you while walking up and down the city. I’ve chosen to accompany the images with the voice of the extraordinary Dolores O’Riordan, Irish icon and one of the biggest idols of my adolescence, with a song that would give me the same shivers it gave me when I was 15, even if I listened to it thirty years from now.

Enjoy and… visit Dublin!

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[Video] Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2018! Celebrating Light Technology and Art

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Hi Everyone!

Every year Canary Wharf celebrates light technology and art with an extraordinary ten days event, showcasing dazzling artwork and cutting edge installations scattered all over the dockland. Some of them are in the main squares and lobbies in the area, and some others have to be discovered walking (detailed maps are available on the website and on site): and a big part of the pleasure in this kind of event is right in the walking and be surprised when the pieces of art unveil in front of our eyes along the path.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights reaches this year its fourth edition and the artwork it displays goes from stunning big interactive attractions (like the Sonic Light Bubble in Jubilee Plaza, pulsating with light and sound when you approach it) to small intimate “treasures” (some of them accessible one person at a time in little black rooms) to fun pieces perfect for your Instagram stories (playing with the pixel cubes in Adams Plaza took me back to the 80’s!).

 

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At the time I’m posting this, the festival have come to his final day (so whoever wants to go, you still have one night!), and I have to say it was another beautiful city event. I want to give a special mention to the people who spent these supervising the installations, directing visitors and regulating the access to the attractions, operating mostly outside in the cold weather for hours (I had to turn to my best friend Paracetamol after that evening, it gets very cold and humid along the river): these are the people who make these kind of events flow smoothly and deserve to be acknowledged.

I’ve prepared another one of my three-minute videos for you, collecting some of my favourite installations. Ready for it? Enjoy!

[Video] Lumiere London 2018: second edition for this exciting light-art festival!

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Hello Wanderers!

A new year has started and I’ve been searching for ways to try and beat the winter blues (I’m a summer child and I haven’t decided to live in the sunniest city in the world, let’s say it), until I discovered that Lumiere London, the festival of art installations where the creative use of light is the key element, was due to return for a thrilling second edition!

For four nights (18-21 January), artists from all over the world have reimagined London’s architecture and streets, creating an open-air modern art gallery. I’ve defied the glacial temperatures (believe me, my forehead was frozen and I couldn’t raise my eyebrows anymore at some point, like after a botox procedure done in a butcher’s stockroom in Pattaya), and I’ve put together a little three-minute video that collects some of the highlights of this year’s edition!

I did my best to give you an overview of all the six areas where the event took place, but unfortunately I couldn’t explore the King’s Cross locations properly, due to shortage of time and hallucinations of polar bears dancing on pink strawberry jelly, product of the hypothermia I was going through. I hope you forgive me.

So, here’s the video, sit back and enjoy!