When you move to a different city, especially if it is in a different country, you always go through an intermediary period when you are unsure whether you’ll ever feel that you really belong there, whether you’ll like it, whether you will ever feel truly at home.
Often you find yourself wandering around, often without any particular purpose, in search of points of reference, with the uncontrollable photographer’s urge to take pictures of every beautiful thing you see, to make it feel like your own.
I owe a lot to my French School, in the Centre Ville of Montpelier, because it gave me the opportunity to look for a different route home every day for three months.
Thus my intermediary phase soon became a period of veritable courtship.
Montpelier is most certainly a beautiful city, welcoming you into the wide and elegant spaces of the Place de la Comedie, then drawing you in to the close embrace of the many little streets that form the wonderful old town centre. But, aside from its indisputable beauty, I often asked myself what it was that really appealed to me about the place. In the end, I think I worked out what it was: its disarming ability to keep you constantly with your eyes wide open, both by day and by night.
It’s quite easy to find yourself walking with your nose pointed upwards, drawn to a light which always seems more beautiful and intense here than anywhere else. The light and the incredible blue of the sky create a frame for the little, studied details that are scattered all around.
At this point, it is easy to understand how the period of courtship was transformed irremediably into a period of falling in love. I love every one of the many aspects of Montpelier, I love its youthful and lively spirit that has often alleviated my mood. I love its vitality, it penchant for colour. But, most of all, I love the various artistic events often promoted by the city, and very often free of charge.
If you walk through the streets of Montpelier, you will often come across various forms of Street Art, bringing colour and fun to the city.
And that’s not all; the city is often transformed, throughout the year, into the stage, leading actor or extra in events which bring together in harmony art and the city streets, engaging those who live there, as well as those who are just visiting.
There were two that I loved the most: ZAT and FAV.
ZAT, or Zone Artistique Temporaire:
A twice-yearly initiative which brings one of the city quarters to life, engaging its residents by means of street shows, theatre productions, art installations, exhibitions and concerts. Whilst walking through the streets of one of the city quarters, you discover that a school yard has become an open-air theatre, a car park is transformed into a fire show from another age, the ground floor of a building is now an avant-garde salon.
FAV, or the Festival d’Architectures Vives:
Small, private courtyards around the city are opened up to the public to play host to the works of young, budding architects.
I let myself be seduced by Montpelier and it was most definitely worth it.
If you are about to change City, or if you have just made the move, don’t miss the opportunity to learn about it, to look at it through the eyes of someone who wants to belong there, and, above all, to photograph it; it will reveal itself to you in all its tiniest details.
My name is Bianca Spina; I’m from Naples but I live in Rome. I have just come back
to Italy after a period living as an Expat in France, an intense
and amazing time. Mother to two little girls, I wear big, red
glasses; I love to walk looking up, to observe, photograph and
tell stories. I try to keep in a good mood and I am always
won over by the inescapable charm of kindness and a smile.