Tattooed Portraits - Philadelphia

Tattooed Portraits – Philadelphia

The story of these images starts about 20 years ago.

Newly married, we decided to move to Italy (my wife is half Italian) even though our parents were living in US. We sold whatever we had in Romania and moved in with one of her relatives in beautiful Bologna. For few months, everything was good. Working and taking small day trips throughout the beautiful country.

On a side note, Italy should be a requirement for everybody to see. Its historic beauty is unique. You walk the same streets Julius Caesar, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many more you read and learn about in history classes, walked hundreds and thousands of years before you.

Back to the present day, one day in December (couldn’t be any worse time), her uncle told us that we have to move out. Even though we were working, we were not making enough to afford to rent an apartment on our own (plus all the living expenses). I knew that one of my parents friend was working in Italy so I got in touch with him. We left Bologna and moved in with him, in a little village outside Brescia. We told him that we will contribute to the rent and started looking for work. After about a week, he was going home in vacation for the holidays and told us that everything was OK. I helped him to the train station and came back home. An hour later, the landlord came and told us to leave immediately since only people working for him could live there. We told him that we will pay rent but he refused. We took our clothes (luckily we didn’t have many 🙂 ) and went to the town’s bar (the only bar in the village where everybody was going after work). It was 9pm, cold and snowing and we didn’t have a place to stay. This is a small village with no hotels or motels and we didn’t have a car. Being December, sleeping outside was not an option. We were in shock: I’ve never been homeless before and it was a scary thought.

We were sitting at the table and my wife was overwhelmed and started crying. At that moment, Mario and Ida (our friends) started talking to us. My wife explained the situation to them and we were very surprised when they said “Don’t worry about it. You can come and stay at our place”. I couldn’t believe it: we literally just met them. We stayed with them for about a month until we were able to get our things in order and came to US. That was 20 years ago, but I will never forget their kindness and they will be my friends forever.

We stay in touch all the time via Skype and Facebook, but I wanted to give them something that it came from us: a couple of portraits of them. Since Mario just got his tattoos done, I wanted to showcase them. And you can see from Ida’s smiles the kindness and loving nature of them.


If you are in Castigione delle Stiviere, stop by their bar and arcade: New Piccadilly Pool. You will definitely receive a warm welcome (and taste a real Expresso).

Hopefully, it will not be another 20 years until we see each other again (my boys can’t wait to go to Italy).

And here are a few images of us back 20 years ago. We packed some sandwiches in the cooler and take the train to whatever we wanted to see that day. That’s how you see Italy on a budget 🙂


Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral for US peeps)



Venezia (Venice for US peeps)

To true friendship.

Philadelphia Tattooed Portrait Photographer