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If one country could be considered the museum of Western civilization and culture, then it must be Italy. Here immortal generals—Hannibal, Caesar, Charlemagne and Napoleon—led great armies into battle. Here is the home of the Roman Empire, the very foundation of the Western world. Here is where that world awakened to the light and the enlightenment of the Renaissance, preserved in great art and architecture. Here is where life is lived to the fullest, in the festivals, vineyards, villas and villages. It is a landscape of ancient beauty. Italy is also the home of 5 fascinating and amazing cities—Rome, Venice, Naples, Florence and Milan—where you will find visions of this timeless culture to capture with your camera.
An important tip to remember: All of these glorious Italian cities have famous buildings, places and scenes that have been photographed innumerable times. Your challenge is to find a new angle, lighting effect, etc. to show these famous places in unique ways. Where the tourists go are not necessarily the best places to photograph the “real” Italy. Schedule some time to wander through parts of each city where only the locals go. You’re apt to find many more interesting subjects and scenes: the people and the places they live, work and play.
Eternal Rome…the first city of the world for more than 2,000 years…the central “vault” of the treasures of the West. Look for the layers of history that have been built one upon another or standing next to each other. Think of the Dome of St. Peter’s in the Vatican reflected in the all-glass surface of a modern building. The obvious stops on a photographic itinerary of Rome include the Colosseum, the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and any number of castles, museums, galleries, churches, cathedrals, piazzas (or squares) and archeological sites.
In many cases, the best photographs of Rome are found throughout the separate quarters of the city. Navona and Campo, for example, may be the home of some of Rome’s favorite sights, but its entire landscape of quaint shops, a profusion of flowers, inviting sidewalk caffes and the people who populate these places is an incredible canvas, ever-changing and ripe for pictures.
Venice is where culture and commerce have uniquely mixed to create a city truly like no other in the world. The greatest trading port and commercial center of the Mediterranean world for centuries, the wealth of Venice and its merchants attracted the artists and the builders to the city that transformed it into the treasure it is today. It will be difficult to resist Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square), the Islands of the Lagoon (Murano, Burano and Torcello), Ponte di Rialto and the Grand Canal.
Venice also has a “secret” life; the part that tourists don’t see…or even know exists. Schedule at least one day or a half-day to forget the map and purposely lose yourself in the back streets and byways of the city. You’ll also find a number of guided photography tours into these less-travel areas of Venice. Do some homework to find the best ones.
Think of Naples as the fun capital of Italy. Yes, there are fun activities in all the major cities of Italy, but Naples is gently kissed by the blue, welcoming Mediterranean, making it a major attraction for watersports lovers. In contrast, this fun-loving, lively city is “bullied” from the landward side by the towering cone of Vesuvius. From the Campi Flegrei Regional Park, you can create a starkly beautiful collection of images of the volcano and its effect on and relationship with the surrounding environment. Of course, one of Vesuvius’ major effects is the destruction of Pompeii. Its remains are a must-visit for photography.
Naples may be always festive, but it is also one of Italy’s great treasure houses of culture and history. In fact, so much so that the center of the city is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wherever you walk and point your camera, 2,500 years of history will be staring back at you in the forms of magnificent palaces, serene churches, ancient monuments and spectacular art galleries. Think creatively and take your time and you’re sure to bring home a portfolio of images that are beyond the ordinary.
Rome tells the story of a great empire; Venice the story of the masters of mercantilism; and Naples the story of leisure and fun. Florence is as close as a city can be to being a living, breathing museum and, in the case of Florence, the story of the Renaissance. Here, a new light shone upon a dark world, starting during the 14th century, and revealed the genius of Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci and many others. Today, many of these works are displayed in one of the world’s greatest museum and gallery, the Uffizi…as well as in the Pitti Palace and the city’s most famous churches, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce. Then, you and your camera will be immersed in architectural splendor, affording you many opportunities to capture these grand edifices in the beautiful early morning or evening light that seems to be only found in Florence.
There is much more to Tuscany than Florence…and you can see it and photograph it when you join Dave Robinson and your fellow photographers for the “Fine Arts Through a Lens” Photography Workshop hosted by Tuscan Muse and Linda Bass, May 5–May 19, 2013.
For 14 days, you’ll not only visit many of the grandest sites in the region, but also receive small-group instruction about how to photograph what you see with a renewed vision and a more inspired muse.
Contact Tuscan Muse today at tuscanmuse.com to learn more about its “Fine Arts Through a Lens” Photography Workshop, May 5–May 19, 2013. Space is limited. It is guaranteed to be an experience like no other…and is sure to elevate your photography to that of an artist.
Milan and the region of Lombardy is where to experience the Northern Italian culture that is quite distinctive from the south. This is Italy’s lake country, with a natural wonderland surrounding the broad waters of Lake Maggiore, Como and Garda, complemented by the nearby majesty of the Italian Alps.
The city of Milan is ancient, another center of the Renaissance and the economic capital of Italy. People work hard, but also enjoy life; and celebrate it among the city’s architectural treasures: Sforza Castles, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Palazzo Reale, and the Arch of Peace, among many others. Milan is another Italian city that deserves to be explored beyond its obvious splendor. Make sure you to look carefully as you walk the streets because many of the best photographs may be hiding behind gateways or non-descript facades that require curious investigation to capture the real life of Milan.
Image Credit: TuscanMuse.com
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