Question: I have noted in your photography a certain preference for out-of-the-ordinary places, especially places of historical or religious importance.
Answer: I think it is not by chance that my first travels, and at a very young age, were to places of great historical, cultural and religious significance, namely Rome and the Vatican. Although I have no memories from this first contact with them, it is clear to me now that it marked the beginning of my voyage among ruins and historical monuments, cultures and religions – a voyage which continues to this day. What seems somewhat interesting is that I have never had that deep desire to go see all of these places. I never planned these travels, as if I had always known I was going to see them. And indeed, every time, the road takes me to them so naturally... It’s probably in my blood, in my programming to see them, to get to know them and even to come back later in many cases.
I have had an interest in old civilizations since I was a child, and I like to find myself in places where time has another dimension, where beauty and true value reign, among Roman and Greek ruins, vestiges of Egyptian or Inca or old Chinese dynasties or others. This type of space will always have a special place in my heart and I will always return with great joy and emotion to Machu Pichu, the Valley of the Kings and all the other such places. As for religious places, like old churches, monasteries and temples, no matter what religion, they allure me, they fascinate and captivate me in a way that renders me a captive within their walls, amidst statues, arcades, columns and sacred altars – or just their remnants, in some cases. Even though some of them may not seem so, these places are still alive, resonating with human emotion, hope, sorrow, the rhythm of present or past chants, the scent off rankincense or sandalwood. It’s like a sort of magic that engulfs and inspires you, and it gives you great joy. After living in countries with such distinctly different religions and cultures, I have learned that, in essence, the human prayer is the same in all types of spaces. Actually, one of my dearest friends is a monk who lives in a very old monastery, of a religion that is different from mine.
Question: Among many other places, you have also visited Tibet – a place which, from several points of view, is not exactly accessible.
Answer: Tibet is something special and unique, and it put me in a very special state to be in Dalai Lama’s halls, in the extraordinary Potala Palace, in all of the buddhist monasteries and temples I have seen. It was with great joy that I crossed this land through its mountains all the way to the borders, and witnessed life of such a different and difficult nature. Even for somebody who grew up in a buddhist environment like me, Tibet was a unique experience and the impressions and photos I took with me from this experience are collected in an album dedicated to this realm of peace and timelessness.
Question: How did you cope with the high altitudes?
Answer: Altitude can be a problem at 4,000-5,000-6,000 meters and higher, but after one or two weeks of living in those conditions, the body adapts and it gets easier. There are local remedies everywhere for height sickness, that local people have been using since times immemorial. InTibet they drink roseroot tea – actually, drinking tea, a lot of it too, is a part of their tradition, the Tibetan butter tea (a tea made from tea leaves, yak butter and salt), served with yak butter cookies or tsampa, somehow became an emblem of Tibet. In Peru, on the peaks of the Andes, the local remedy for height sickness, all legal and available in shops, is coca leaves, coca tea and coca derivates like candy, cookies and so on. On the shores of Titicaca lake, at the border between Peru and Bolivia, I saw elderly locals with cheeks swollen by huge lumps of coca leaves, which they chew on continuously. When I climbed the Cotopaxi volcano, in Ecuador, my remedy was candy, one every ten minutes or so. In Peru, a gentleman from Arequipa, graduate of two universities working ona literacy program aimed at isolated shepherds in the Andes, told me that when they took down a group of children from the 5,000 meters high plateau where they lived to the nearest town, Arequipa, situated at an altitude of 2,380 meters, the children had the same height sickness, even if they made the way in the opposite direction.
Question: You come from a family of intellectuals, your father is even a graduate of two universities. Both your parents speak foreign languages and have lived in a number of countries around the world, in Asia, Africa, the US, Europe. Your first travels were with your parents. Do you think they inspired your desire to travel?
Answer: I do not necessarily have a desire to travel, as I can see in other people. This is simply my lifestyle, and it’s determined by different coordinates. Traveling and getting to know the world have been part of my life since I was very little, it is my natural lifestyle. I left the country at a very young age, and my first memories are not from here – not even from this continent. As hard as I have tried, I have not managed to bring up any early memory from here, not one. It is when I smell the scent of magnolias and taste the flavour of papaya and guava fruit or see the flowers of the fire tree that I feel I have come back ‘home’. My first memories smell like magnolia flowers and taste like guava fruit.
Question: You are a great lover or art and museums. What is the museum you have visited the most?
Answer: It’s probably the Cairo Museum of Egyptology, which I have visited many times, spending hours and hours amidst its extraordinary ancient treasures, from opening to closing time. The Giza plateau, with its famous pyramids, is another place I have dedicated quite sometime to. I also enjoy every opportunity to revisit the great European museums, with their unparalled Grand Masters’ works of art. Museums and art galleries have attracted me since early times. As a child I used to wander the halls of a great museum and analyze each painting, fascinated at that age especially by huge paintings in elaborate frames.
Question: What country or place have you liked the most?
Answer: When you have visited ten countries, it is easy to answer this question. In my case the number is much higher, so it is more difficult to say. What has always mattered and still matters to me is to experience a country thoroughly, through and through – not just the capital or one-two cities. In some cases, like Monaco or Lichtenstein, this is easy. But in other cases, when we talk about crossing vast stretches of land, mountains, jungle or desert, this is a truly challenging feat. But that’s the only way I think you can say you have visited a country, that you have come to know and understand that place - or at least that you have tried. I have gone back to many of the countries I have visited, sometimes many times. It is equally important to not go to a country with any preconceived ideas, to keep an open mind and try to see beyond prejudice, appearances, masks and illusion – searching for the true way, the essence.
Question: Should I ask what country you have not liked?
Answer: My quest is not for places I like or not. It is rather to know, understand, adapt, learn – irrespective of how much I relate to the people, their traditions, the history of the place, the climate. I don’t think you need to go to the end of the world to find places you don’t like, because that may be right next to you.
Question: You have also been to the Galapagos islands, which is quite remarkable given the rather restricted access to this part of the world. I have noticed in your personal photos that you are a great lover not simply of nature, but of wildlife: you appear in many pics with animals in your arms or around you.
Answer: I like to observe animals and birds in their natural habitats and I have many pictures from such experiences. I have very fond memories of a very expressive and tender baby alpaca that I encountered in the Andes, the herds of wild llamas, the Tibetan yaks, the tiny Amazonian hummingbirds, polar reindeers, Colca Canyon condors and many others. Galapagos was like paradise from this point of view. Instead of crossing paths with people there, I would come across pelicans, seals, iguanas, turtles and even penguins. Remarkable encounters, right? I have collected the photographs from this experience in a photo album that is very dear to my heart.
Question: Your photos seem to naturally capture the beauty and uniqueness of the places you visit.
Answer: I try to preserve natural beauty and surprise places and people as they are, in everyday situations, spontaneous moments of life. My photography is not premeditated, calculated, analyzed. It is like reality, at times bright, and at times less so, sometimes spectacular, sometimes less so. But beyond the images, there are emotions, thoughts, nuances, resonance...It is like a voyage through nature, life, ruins, faiths... through feelings and thoughts, through moods and untold words, towards the mysteries beyond images.
Question: Your peers say you have a talent for catching details or moments they do not notice, even if they are there with you.
Answer: We can gaze at a photo for long minutes at times, fascinated by the scenery. There are moments when people are overwhelmed with the desire to be in the Himalayas or Carribean, in the Alps or on the Mediterranean shore, in the tropical forests or on the shore of the Indian Ocean or to watch an African sunset, lost in admiration. But they often overlook the fact that beautiful scenery is always very close to them, and that each outing in the midst of nature rewards and spoils us with shapes, contours, colours and harmony, and all we have to do is learn to notice the discreet beauty of less spectacular places. My escapes from the city have given me the opportunity to detach and liberate myself, even if briefly, from the urban world and live Nature’s moments of serenity, moodiness… or sheer melancholy.
Question: You have met important personalities in your life, and some of them are your close friends. Is there someone you wish you had met, but haven’t?
Answer: I can think of many people I would have liked to meet, if only for a few moments, beginning with the great geniuses and masters of ancient times, or of the Renaissance, or people like Mother Teresa.
Coming back to our days, I have indeed had the opportunity to be around some great people, to get to know them and even get close. This is in fact the greatest wealth .Also, I have had the chance to meet many different people, from completely different worlds and even from different ages in time. Each such encounter has given me joy and wealth and inspiration towards new horizons.
"Inspired by a great love for art, history, religions, philosophy, literature, with a solid background in all of these domains and especially passionate about ancient cultures.
Owner of a handsome collection of old African art (which we have had a chance to admire when she was invited to display it at the National Art Collections Museum), as one of the best connoisseurs on Black African art.
Author of spectacular works of art.
Based on her fine art studies, Laura’s unique talent is a fusion between a talent for colours and shapes with literary prowess and historical insight.
These coordinates of her profile are completed by an absolutely unique personal itinerary. With a childhood spent in an exotic Asian archipelago, an American and European teenage, and her young adult years in Northern Africa and Europe, Laura’s life is sitting on four pillars, each in a different continent, in parts of the world that are wide apart not just geographically, but also from the point of view of culture, civilization and religion.
Having lived on four different continents and always a traveller en route to new challenges, she has collected a wealth of thousands of destinations in an impressive number of countries – around a hundred – many of which she has visited more than once.
Her journey follows primarily the traces of ancient civilizations, among cultural and religious remnants of past episodes in the history of humanity, but always also following with sensitive eyes the perfect beauty of nature.
What Laura presents in her personal website are small fragments of only a few of her remarkable travels".