Starlings are notoriously difficult to “control.” The story is told of a man who was bothered by starlings roosting in a large sycamore near his house. He said he tried everything to get rid of them and finally took a shotgun to three of them and killed them. When asked if that discouraged the birds, he reflected a minute, leaned forward, and said confidentially, “Those three it did.”
– Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Martine Franck, Cartier-Bresson’s widow, accompanied her husband to just one — probably atypical — portrait session, that of the poet Ezra Pound in Venice in 1971, a year before his death at 87.
There was a tremendous, heavy silence,’ recalled Ms. Franck, herself a photographer. ‘Pound didn’t say a word. He just seemed to condemn the world with his eyes. We were there for about 20 minutes. I stayed to one side. I huddled in a corner. Henri took seven pictures.’
– From This Decisive Moment On by Alan Riding in The New York Times, January 26, 2006
Anouk Aimée was so stunningly beautiful that when Fellini cast her as the long-suffering Luisa in 8½, he famously cut her long eyelashes, added freckles, and clothed her in unglamorous, de-sexualized costumes.
I do not think it worked.
Lucca in Tuscany has some remarkable architecture, especially the great circular center of town and the old medieval city walls of the former city state. The birthplace of Puccini, this charming city is not as choked with tourists as other destinations in Tuscany are which can provide for some needed breathing room. It is well worth the day trip from Florence.
It is also where I learned of the great rivalry between Rome and Pisa and was taught this insult:
Better a corpse in your house than a Pisan at your doorstep.
It is even better to say it in Italian:
Meglio un morto in case che un Pisano all’uscio.