Light Makes Photography. Embrace Light. Admire it. Love it. But Above All, Know Light.

The Museum of Photographic Arts is situated in a beautiful Colonial-style building in the Balboa Park of San Diego. As I love photography I wanted to visit the museum and was very surprised. It was for me a little like a theme-walk. The photos are beautiful. I was more looking at the presentation of the photos as in that moment I had the ‘problem’ that I didn’t know how is the best way to present my photos. Large frame, no frame, black or light passepartout, how big the photos.. there are so many ways and I found a lot of inspiration right in this museum. And courage to present my photos also in a bigger size. On canvas for example. But that’s another story…

A little bit of history? The Museum of Photography Arts – short: MOPAs – was founded in 1983. It shows photos from the 19th century to the present day with a range from documentary to expressive photography. More than 7.000 images are collected here, from over 850 photographers. The building housing the museum is the Casa de Balboa at the Balboa Park and easy to find.

There is a print-viewing room, a classroom, a theater, a book store and more. More than 100.000 visitors come here annually and there are up to 10 major exhibitions. They give classes and workshops, lectures and films.

I read this on their website): “The mission of the Museum of Photographic Arts is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film, and video”

Sounds promising and I would say they are fulfilling their mission.

I had a long walk around to see the photos – and their framing/non-framing. It gave me a lot of inspiration.

One room was dedicated to light and I liked something I read: “… Night only suggests things, it doesn’t fully reveal them. … it frees powers within us which were controlled by reason during the day…” Night photography is something very special and not easy at all. But always very intriguing and mysterious, revealing without revealing. And a great play-ground for photographers.

Light Makes Photography. Embrace Light. Admire it. Love it. But Above All, Know Light.

The museum is closed on Mondays and opens the other days at 10 am. Very interesting is the fee: pay as you wish. So everyone can give what he/she thinks would be the right amount. That is nice as it gives the possibility to visit the venue also to people they don’t have money.

MOPAs, San Diego, California/USA:

For further information:
MOPAs San Diego
Balboa Park San Diego

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Pomposa – The Abbey of a Book

I am a big fan of the Italian writer Marcello Simoni. One of his book sequels are “L’abbazia dei cento peccati”, “L’abbazia dei cento delitti” and “L’abbazia dei cento inganni”. I read all of them of course.

They are crime and mystery stories, situated in the middle age. The kind of story I like the most. I learn about history in a very entertaining (and intriguing) way.

The story of the books is about the lapis exilii, a precious relic, mentioned in an old parchment. Maynard de Rocheblanche, a knight, tries to find out what it is about and to bring back the parchment and the relics to the original place, an abbey in France. On his way to find the subjects he has to stay for a long time in Ferrara and the abbey of Pomposa.

Reading the books I was getting very curious about this abbey. It is situated south of Venice, halfway to Rimini, not far away where I live when I am in Italy. So last summer I had the opportunity to drive to Ferrara and Pomposa together with a friend.

The abbey is a Benedictine monastery not far away of Ferrara and once upon a time built on an island. It is famous today not because of the books but because it keeps Carolingian manuscripts in its library.

Already in 874 in this very place there was an abbey, very well known for the Carolingian art. For long time it was one of the most important places in Italy with a rich cartulary. In 1152 during a winter of heavy rain the river Po broke through the dam near to Ferrara and as a consequence the river re-located its riverbed. The area around Pomposa got more and more swampy and gave the perfect base for malaria. Due to this and the black death the abbey lost its importance to the impoverishment of the dying neighboring area.

The last monks left the abbey around 1671, it became at some point a private property and only in the 1930 of the last century it became property of the state and restored.

The church of Santa Maria is a triple-nave Ravennan Romanescque style basilica. Beautiful the arcaded aisles and carpentry rafters. During the time the abbey grew in power and influence and was also enlarged during the 11th century with a segmental apse.

Inside the church there is a geometric decorative inlay stonework, a so called cosmatescque. It’s a typical Medieval architecture art and used for a special kind of mosaic inlaid pavements. The frescoes in the apse are by Vitale di Bologna (also mentioned in the book) and some other masters of the area. Instead in the hall the frescoes are by a scholar of Giotto.

Really impressive is also the campanile, the bell tower. It’s free-standing, 48 meters high and Romanesque.

We entered the place from the Palazzo della Ragione, which was built before 1026 and facing the church. Here we got the ticket to see the ground.

My friend didn’t know anything about the place, I knew all out of the books I read. So we had all to be surprised.

The first place we entered after the Palazzo della Ragione and crossing the garden was the refectory. It has beautiful paintings. The ceiling is a masterpiece of woodwork, the pavement a huge mosaic. No furniture, a bare room with some information boards explaining the paintings.

We got out of the refectory and up to the Pomposian museum. It is situated in the dormitory, once divided into cells for the monks. Today it is a huge room with a lot of artifacts found on the ground during restoration. I liked a lot the pottery and glass as I am always fascinated by old glass. From the windows – once every monk’s cell had a window – I could see a little forest right behind the abbey.

Just behind the dormitory there is the chapter house. It was the monks meeting place. The pavement is lightly wavy, maybe due to an earthquake. And again the beautiful wooden ceiling. Dark wood with bright colorful paintings at the wall and a mosaic pavement that doesn’t distract at all.

I was amazed by the beauty of this place. Of course it looks completely different to what I imagined out of the books. Especially because today there is no way anymore to see it was once an island and surrounded by woods. The land is flat and really bare of trees.

I felt a little like walking in my books, sitting inside the church or outside in the sun and thinking about the story, the people walking and living here. What a fun to go in places you read before in a historical thriller!

Pomposa, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna/Italy:

For further information:
Abbey of Pomposa

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Sant’Agata Feltria and The Old Theater

There are so many wonderful, magic places around the Marche and the Emilia-Romagna area. One day after being again at San Marino with a friend we decided to go back through the hinterland and happened to Sant’Agata Feltria. A tiny little place, not far from San Leo, and again a Medieval city… or how we say in Italy: borgo.

Sant’Agata Feltria is a little fortified town just a few kilometers west from San Marino. It is situated in the province of Rimini and since 2009 part of the region Emilia-Romagna. It is also connected the Montefeltro area and its history.

People lived in the area already before the Roman period. Legend tells us that a rock got loose from Mount Ercole and in its place the church of Sant’Agata was built. Around this religious place slowly a settlement developed.

Later the village was ruled under different feudal lords of the region like Malatesta, Montefeltro and Fregoso.

The village was restored in 1474 by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and the Fregoso ordered new constructions to be build in town. The Palazzone, in which we find today the theater, is from the 17th century and the Fregoso period.

During the golden era in the mid 17th century in this fortified city was born Angelo Berardi. He was one of the most important musicians of Italy. He was encouraged by the Fregoso family and became very famous for his works. There are thirteen collections of practical music and six theoretical treatises.

The little town has a few churches and monasteries which show the deep spiritual side of the place. There is the Colegiate church of the 10th century with a 7th century crypt, the Convento di San Girolamo built at 1560, the church of Madonna dei Cappuccini which was built on order of Marquise Lucrezia Vitelli Fregoso around 1574 and dedicated to St Anthony of Padua, and San Francesco della Rosa.

There are several fountains in Sant’Agata Feltria. They are modern artwork. The most notable is the snail, called Fontana della Chiocciola. It’s designed by Tonino Guerra and created by Marco Bravura and is part of the itinerary ‘The Places of Soul’. More than 300.000 mosaic tesserae were needed to build the fountain.

‘The Moon in the Well’ is also a masterpiece of the itinerary and I liked it a lot. ‘The Memory Footprints’ is another piece of the artworks.

Already entering the main piazza we saw the Angelo Mariani Theater, an impressive, red colored masterpiece of architecture. It is one of the oldest theaters in Italy and is built entirely in wood.

Before leaving the borgo we saw the doors open and had a look inside. An older man gave us a program for the season and invited us to see a play. At the really ridiculous fee of 5 €. He told us that the older people of the town are trying to keep alive the theater volunteering. That is amazing! One of the biggest supporter of the theater is Vittorio Gassman, famous Italian actor and director.

Originally the building was the ‘Palazzo della Ragione’ and commissioned by Orazio Fregoso in 1605. It was used as administrative office and provided space to the youth.

Unusual is the side-entrance.

Angelo Mariani, the name of the theater today, was an orchestral conductor and an interpreter of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas. On the 8th of September 1922 the performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto made the theater known everywhere.

The Rocca Fregoso is the castle which can be seen already from far. It is the symbol of the town. Originally it was built in the 12th century, later extended and used also as living space by the Fregoso family.

Between 1781 and 1820 Franciscan monks lived in the castle. It was abandoned later and only restored in the last mid century. Since 1974 it hosts the museum of the town.

The town has a few interesting events every year. In July there are some days dedicated to the medieval period with a lot of festivities. The white truffle fair is held every Sunday in October. The area is famous for its truffles, black and white ones. And every Sunday in December the town offers a Christmas market. I recommend it, they have really beautiful Christmas markets in Italy with a lot of handcrafts and not at all overloaded with food trucks.

Sant’Agata Feltria, Emiglia-Romagna/Italy:

For further information:
Proloco San Agata Feltria

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A Black Forest Cake for Mothers’ Day

Mothers’ Day…. I never made a cake for this particular day as I had never the possibility. My mother lived far away from where I lived and it was high season as I was a tourist guide. No chance to get off and go to see my mother.

This year I was invited for dinner to my boy-friend’s mother’s house. Oops… can’t go without bringing something though. I thought about a cake. This way I could eat also a treat after dinner. Like many people his parents are not familiar with the paleo or gluten-free diet and it’s always good to bring something. It takes away the panic: ‘What can I offer her?’ And normally everyone likes the cakes I prepare.

Unfortunately I had some advertisement about Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte on my Facebook time-line that gave me the idea of a cake for Mothers’ Day. And my boy-friend thought the idea is great, especially this particular cake. I never made it before and especially not in paleo version…

OK, now it was too late! I looked up the original recipe and just converted the ingredients into paleo friendly ones. And I think it worked out well. The only concern was that the sponge cake was a little too dry for my taste. I guess it came because of the no fat recipe. Next I try with olive/coconut oil or ghee (which will give the better taste).

If you don’t have fresh cherries use frozen cherries like I did. Or if you have cherry jam from last year, that works perfect as well.

The whipped cream I made from simple coconut milk, just the solid part after you let the can overnight in the fridge. To be sure that the whipped cream ‘stands’ also after an hour, I added some tapioca, just a little bit, not more than a teaspoon for two cans of coconut milk cream. It was perfect, nothing melted! I am always surprised that the coconut whipped cream with a little sweetener and vanilla has no coconut taste anymore. It becomes ‘neutral’ like milk whipped cream.

Hope you enjoy the cake, it is a great idea to bring with for a special event. My boy-friend’s parents liked the cake a lot.

Black Forest Cake
German Black Forest Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 1 hour
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 1 hour
Cook Time
30 minutes
Black Forest Cake
German Black Forest Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 1 hour
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 1 hour
Cook Time
30 minutes
Dry ingredients for the cake base
Wet ingredients for the cake base
Ingredients for the cherry filling:
For the whipped cream
Servings: slices
  1. Prepare a round spring form pan with oil and flour to prevent the cake from sticking when baked. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. Divide the eggs and beat the yolks with a fork.
  3. Beat the egg whites together with salt and half of the sugar until stiff.
  4. In a bowl mix all the remaining dry ingredients. Add the yolks and stir. Add the egg whites and slowly fold them in the flour-egg-mixture.
  5. Transfer the batter into the spring form pan and even with a pastry scraper. Slide into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Get the cake out before the toothpick comes out completely dry.
  6. While baking the cake base prepare the cherry filling. Just put all the ingredients (except a few cherries for decoration later) in a sauce pan and let them cook on low heat for about 15 - 20 minutes. Let the cherry mixture cool out.
  7. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then transfer the cake base on a cooling rack.
  8. When the cake base is cool, try to cut the base horizontally in two equal halves. Open the cake and on the bottom part spread the cherry mixture. If you want the cherry liquor then put that first.
  9. Close the cake with the upper part.
  10. Put the ingredients for the whipped cream in a bowl and beat the cream until stiff. If you are afraid it will not stay on the cake put some tapioca flour.
  11. Now decorate the cake with the whipped cream, the remaining cherries and the grated chocolate as you like.
  12. Store in the fridge until you serve.
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Some Nice Impressions of San Diego

Panorama to the north of San Diego

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During my last year stay in San Diego, California, I took some beautiful shots of the city and surroundings. I want to show you some of them.

Panorama to the south of San Diego

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Hippie hostel at Ocean Beach, San Diego

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San Diego seen from Point Loma

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Marina of San Diego

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Downtown San Diego seen from Coronado Bridge

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House seen at Coronado Island

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Hotel at Coronado Island

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Baywatch at Coronado Island

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Beach chairs at Coronado Island

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Sunset over San Diego

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Beach sunset at San Diego

San Diego, California/USA:

For further information:
San Diego official website

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