I take my silly dog Sogni, on a walk to the vet in my neighborhood every day. The ladies love her and she gets a treat, a cookie every day, sometimes 2 or 3 depending on who is working. This is her dog park, her Disneyland.
Sogni and Chiara with the daily cookie
About 9 months ago, I was working at home and Sogni was particularly anxious to get to the vet. I did not want to leave at that moment (lazy), but some little voice whispered, “just go”. So I did.
I arrived at the vet, and I remembered that the groomer who had bathed Sogni the day before, had not given her a “sanitary shave” back in her behind regions, and it was causing some serious “problems”. I asked the ladies if someone in the back could trim her a bit. They said sure, and led her away. As I was waiting, I noticed a lovely woman on the bench next to me, with her dog, and she was visibly distraught. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that her other dog, had passed away the week before, and she was now bringing her second dog, Gino (the brother) to have a check up, as he had been quite upset over his brothers untimely passing. She went on to tell me that she was out of the country when her dog passed away, but her boyfriend had been able to hold the phone up to her doggie, and she was able to say goodbye. My heart hurt for her, I have been present for all of my animals passings over the years, and it is always heartbreaking.
Gino © http://www.MoscaPhoto.com
I asked her where she had been when she was away.
My radar went up as it always does when Italy, the love of my life is mentioned and I asked, “What were you doing there?”
She explained that she was Italian, from Rome, originally, but she had been living in America for the past 15 years and this was her first trip back to Italy and to see her family in 9 years. As we spoke further, I told her of my connection to Italy, to Cortona and how I had roots and a home there. I saw that the vet was getting ready to lead her to an examining room with her dog, and some voice in my head told me to ask her for her number. She gave me her card which read, Alice Falzone, Mosca Photo, Wedding Photography. (or something like that)
I recognized the name, I realized I knew her website, as my brother, Mitch, is a wedding videographer (Cabfare Productions) in Seattle and he is always sending me various NW links to wedding photographers and videographers to check out. I knew I had seen her website somewhere in this context. I commented on this and we agreed what an amazing small town this is and made promises to stay in touch.
We did stay in touch, got together at my studio a few weeks later , and our friendship was born. A few months later, I came up with the idea that I needed to get back to Italy at some point and take some professional photographs of my home, Casa San Marco, in Cortona, Italy to update the 10 year old website. The house does not even look the same as it did then and I have done much restoration and interior design work. The house is finished, spectacular and I was feeling like I wanted to shoot amazing photographs of this house with a photographer that would “get it” and understand the heart and soul of this house.
I called Alice, proposed the idea of the two of us going to Cortona together and collaborating on this project. I remember the phone call well. I was standing huddled outside in the courtyard of Peet’s coffee in the Pearl district of Portland, and I remember Alice’s squeal of delight as I made the proposal. YES, Si, Si, Si and YES was her answer and the following months were devoted to the conception of the project.
I poured over interior design books, magazines, gathered props, vintage prom dresses, antique baptismal gowns, artists paintings, and a slew of other found treasures, put them in a box and sent them to Cortona, to be used for the staging of this photo shoot. It was not enough to simply go in and take some basic “real estate” photographs of my house. I wanted photos worthy of a design book. To accomplish this, much effort was expended.
I arrived on March 20, and went straight from the Florence airport, to IKEA to load up on way to way too many church candles, pillows and any other thing I could possibly think of that we would need for this project.
In the chaos of IKEA, I felt immediately relaxed. I was back in Italy.
Hit Cortona running, set to work, sewing pillows, creating scenes, making vignettes. My Cortona neighbor and good friend Patrizia and I , made several trips to Emmaus, the secret thrift store in Arezzo, where we collected more treasures to create the moods and scenes. We cleaned, we arranged, we created.
Patrizia at Emmaus
I even scored this credenza for pennies, 1950’s era, and apparently everyone’s Italian Nonna had one of these. This was and is so primo, and the Emmaus guys had fun (ha) walking it down the mountain, since they always arrive with furniture deliveries in a truck too big that can’t get through the city arched walls.
Alice arrived a week later with her dear friend Michelle.
Michelle and Alice
Alice, Patrizia, Michelle and I worked our tails off for one week straight, staging, photographing, staging some more, eating , laughing and having an amazing time. I had not allotted enough time to pull this project off in a manner that would be a bit more “tranquila”, so I was on the move from 6 am each day until midnight, fussing and fixing and arranging and vignetting, along with Patricia and Michelle, who were an invaluable help with Alice following close behind with the camera, shooting on an average of 200-500 photos of any one room. I am so appreciative and grateful to these women for all of their help, their artistic and creative talents, I could not have pulled this off without them. Grazie mille a tutti!
And although it hard and exhausting work, it was well worth the effort, Alice Falzone is a brilliant photographer and artist, she “got” Casa San Marco, better than I could have possibly hoped for, and gave me a realization of my vision that far exceeded my expectations. Words can not express the gratitude I feel for the gift she has given me in documenting my artistic vision of Casa San Marco, the art project closest to my heart ever. I am ecstatic with the results. I certainly got the photos worthy of a interior design book. Grazie infinite Alice!
I have a few detail photos that she has shared with me, which I will pass on to here on the blog, and there are more on my newly created Facebook Business page: Casa San Marco (thanks Alice, for the encouragement and guidance to start the page!). The editing process of these hundreds and hundreds (thousands) of photos will take some time, and I will post them as they come…In the meantime, you can see more photo details here.
The moral of the story is this.
Pay attention to those small voices that tell you to take your dog to the vet for her cookie. Or whatever that whispering little voice is telling you. You just might end up in Italy or somewhere else. But whatever or wherever you end up as a result of paying attention, you will most certainly experience magic. No question. That is how it works. Every time. No exceptions.