There was a time when civilisations and distant cultures very different from our own inspired dreams and a desire for knowledge, not fear and diffidence.
I was lucky enough to live at that time and my choice of Istanbul as the venue for the presentation of the 2019 calendar is possibly a desire to turn back the clock.
Without spoiling the Oscar Wilde quote "Life is too important to be taken seriously", let me try and tell you how I fell in love with this city.
While it might seem surprising, the first inklings of passion were aroused by the view from my aunt Annamaria’s Neapolitan terrace at the Rampe Brancaccio.
This beautiful house, with its big rooms, high ceilings and luminous balconies, was home to my uncle’s legal practice, a realm of practicality, and also to the terrace overlooking the orientally-inspired dome of the Schilizzi Mausoleum in Posillipo.
That was the place where aunt Annamaria did her dreaming and, perhaps sensing my desire to travel and escape the daily routine, she confided in me her passion for losing herself in that view and imagining she was next to the Bosphorus, a place full of mystery and adventure, and not in a city with a broad gulf looking out onto the Mediterranean, still capable at the time, despite a thousand contradictions, of maintaining the ties between its upper and working classes.
"Kismet", which stems from the Arab term "qismah" and corresponds to our “fate” or “destiny”, is perhaps the word that best describes the awareness that my aunt’s confidences and dreams created in me, pre-empting my vocation for travel and the search for the unusual.
My “Associazione Culturale Di Meo Vino ad Arte” has taken up the implicit challenge that I set myself so many years ago: to turn dreams into solid realities, travelling the cities of the world in search of beauty and people interested in sharing it.
Many years later, reading the book dedicated by Pamuk to his city and chosen for the Napoli award in 2006, I was struck by the story of the importance for the author, for his family and for his fellow Neapolitans, of the fact that they were able to see glimpses of the domes and ships of the Bosphorus from the terraces and windows of their homes.
That text, “Istanbul”, written, before the Nobel, to evoke the biography of the author and his city from far away, brought two things immediately to mind; the first, aunt Annamaria and her dreams, and the second, the book of another exile (by choice) from his home, Naples.
I’m referring to "L'armonia perduta”, a "fantasy based on the history of Naples", dedicated by Raffaele la Capria to his city, when he had already been living for years in Rome, where he found the same critical yet enamoured mood for a time and place now lost as the book by Pamuk.
But let’s get back to the point. The city I had previously only imagined became real when I went on a cruise with my Mother, then again thanks to an invitation to a wedding, and today, when, with the guide of generous hosts and scholars, I have been able to explore it and really get to know it well.
Of course it would take 12 calendars to show you all of the wonderful things I’ve seen, but with the help of Massimo Listri’s photographs, we’re going to present and immortalise 12 memories.
For our annual get-together, I’ve chosen the charming Çirağan Palace which has been completely refurbished, merging the European neo-classical and Ottoman styles, and stands on the shores of the Bosphorus. The palace of sultan Abdülalâziz, which subsequently became the seat of parliament, went up in flames in 1910 but following its reconstruction and subsequent renovation a few years ago, it is now ready to receive us.
Since I live in Naples, a city which stands on top of a long series of tunnels, built on the remains of other civilisations, where there are people who say the “city below” is in constant communication with the “city above”, this city, with its underground testimonies of the Eastern Roman and Ottoman Empires, is the perfect setting for the presentation and party of the 2019 calendar.
The invitation I extend is to overcome all laziness and diffidence, to come to visit this sprawling, fascinating city, Istanbul, and discover the stratification of cultures that time has deposited here.
Generoso di Meo
Istanbul - The Swan of the Bosphorus
Naples - Museum of Madness
Istanbul - Museum of Innocence
Napoli e Istanbul sono il caos vitale
In queste città regna l’essere umano
Il boom culturale di Istanbul e la percezione degli Italiani
Napoli-İstanbul, the feeling
“Guerra e Pace”
Massimo Listri inside Moscow
A Grand Tour around Vesuvius
Listri inside Hamilton's Naples
MEMORIA e FUTURO
Bellotto e Listri a Varsavia
L'anima del tempo di Massimo Listri
Chiese napoletane: rovina e recuperi
di Angelo Bucarelli
due teatri per due sicilie
i sipari di giuseppe mancinelli
e gustavo mancinelli
Mise en scene a Pompei
Di Meo a New York
Di Meo a Bordeaux
Di Meo per il "grand tour"
di Alexander Creswell