I had the pleasure last year to spent three weeks in Italy on a vacation that I have wanted to take my entire life. After some encouragement from a good friend I finally pulled the trigger and made it happen. I have teased these blog posts were coming for a long time now, and finally sat through and picked out the best from my trip. I originally had over 800 photos that I edited. So trust me when I say that I didn’t put them all here.
I hope to share with you more about my trip and the things I learned on my adventure. I hope that you enjoy it.
It is no joke or exaggeration when I tell you that I planned this trip for about 10 years. I am always slow to spend money on myself and do something enjoyable. This was my first international trip that wasn’t a resort style beach trip. So this was truly the first time that I would be exploring a city myself, needing to know how to get around and how to figure how to eat and talk to the people.
When it came time, I always knew that Italy would be top on my list. After a brief thought of picking Thailand, I decided that it might not be the best idea to do a trip with a nearly 24-hour flight as my first long destination trip. I scored a great package deal for Italy so it fit perfectly.
I used a company called European Destinations. It allows you to plan out where you want to go and then links all of your travel to each spot and packages it all together for you. It books your hotel, flights, and transports between the cities.
I decided instead of hopping all over the place, that I would pick three main areas that I could use as my base and then take day trips from each spot. I booked for one week in each location so that I can try and feel a little bit of what it is like to live there and be immersed. Venice, Florence, and Rome were the ones that I selected. Today, we start with Venice.
One of the first things that you notice when you get to Italy is how quiet it is. When you arrive from the airport in Venice you have to take a water taxi to get to the actual Island of Venice. Being someone that gets seasick easily, this was my first fear in a long list of fears. But it was great. It was peaceful, the waters were calm and it was about a 30 min ride in.
When you get to the island itself, it’s a hustle bustle of people and a long walk to where you are staying, along with some additional water taxis going through the canal. There is no doubt that the canal city gives the town a certain smell, but that you get used to quickly.
Once you get settled in, something that really surprises you is you notice how quiet it is. I had to stop and pause for a moment and think; what is so different here? And then it hit me. NO CARS. How amazing! No loud noise of cars honking or moving through the city. No loud industrial sounds either. Extremely peaceful. The crowds were pretty managed as well as I went in the off-peak time of April. Normally a manageable 50 degrees made it very pleasant with a light jacket.
As you started walking through the city and finding your way around, these narrow walkways like you see in the photo above were the norm. As tiny as they were, you never felt crushed or unsafe walking down them, even at night. Which was really interesting. They almost looked like where you would go to meet Jack the Ripper.
With the great invention of the smartwatches, it was a fun exercise to see how much walking I was putting in each day. I clocked in at about 10 miles a day. Not going to lie, it hurt. After the first leg of this trip, I had to stop in Florence to find new shoes. I had worn through an older pair that I had come with. This brings me to the next thing that I noticed about Italy.
Speaking not even a lick of Italian, it was so easy to communicate with the locals to get food and to get around. There were only a few times that I ran into a small issue that they didn’t speak English or at least enough to get by. When that happened, I just pointed towards what I wanted. But everyone was rather nice.
I am going to get more into the philosophy of the street photographer that I did and the mindset I was in once I get to the next post from Italy which will be all about people. This part of the post is more about the buildings. So let’s start diving into that.
Above you see one of the many docks around Venice. They hold the gondolas when not being used and provide a great spot for all the penguins to hang out. Across the water here you see one of the many churches or basilicas that are in Venice. This one I believe was the Fondazione Cini. One thing in these posts that you will have to forgive me with is that since so much time has passed, I have forgotten some of the names of the different buildings and places, and have to go off of some of the maps that I had for a good guess.
There is certainly a beauty to the decay in Venice. You are met with graffiti, which I think should be taken off the planet, and some run down nature of the buildings. You might think, “this place needs some paint”. While that is true, it’s not like the decay and dirt in Philadelphia, this decay is somehow beautiful.
This was a campo in Venice. A campo from what I understand is basically what we would call a plaza or maybe even a community park, minus the green. What you see in the center is access to a well for water. I love the colors in the buildings here. The people walking on the right adds an extra small element to the frame.
I can’t emphasize enough the feeling of calm that is in the town. The waterway canals are the way that people get about the city by low powered motor boats or gondola. You can’t even hear them as they are approaching, they just glide through the water. You can seemingly walk through the narrow streets and over the bridges that go above the canals for what seems like forever.
It’s definitely easy to get turned around and not remember which direction you were walking in, but that is also some of the fun of it. There is so much to explore and see and you find most of it by accident.
I walked from the moment I got up until the moment it was time to go to bed. I was lucky that I have T-mobile (shout out to them for something) so I had included international phone service and could use my GPS. The GPS didn’t stand much of a chance in the narrow walkways, but it did at least keep you on track of going in the right general direction.
When I set out on this trip, one of the things I wanted to do was to take my camera with me, with one lens, and shoot everything that I see that looked interesting to me. No holding back. trying new angles and new ideas for composition and what was interesting than I had tried before. I found that I ended up taking a lot of shots of things like this. An ordinary clothesline, but somehow it gave me a glimpse into what it might be like for the people who actually live there.
I took several photos of what would seem like boring clotheslines. But somehow I found that there was also life in them. Not just that someone obviously wears the clothes, but how they would move in the wind and flap against the building. The yellow buildings behind them really add that pop.
A lonely yellow chair has this leading line of a matching yellow piece of wood. I warned you above that I took photos of everything that I found interesting. That is going to leave for some artsy fartsy photos just like this one.
The texture in the doors and window shutters matched with the rustic colors like this green could be found everywhere. I really liked how the shadow cut across this building. If you are a fan of shadow and light, Venice is the place to visit. With it’s tightly compacted buildings and spaces, there is tons of it to be found.
What does a photographer d0 when they are in Europe? Take photos of doors of course! The details are really amazing. Everything from the size and weight of the doors to the door buzzers and bars on the windows. The bricks look like the building is ready to fall down, but that’s just Italy.
The very famous gondolas in Venice are even more beautiful in person. I am sure Vegas is jealous of the real thing. You could stand on a bridge and just watch them go by ever so often. Again being a bit of the offseason you didn’t see as many going at a time, and I really enjoyed that. I think that was a big perk of coming before the summer months hit. Although it still had its parts that were jam packed of people, the lower numbers in some parts really allowed the art to take place in front of my lens. I stood there waiting for the perfect moment to capture one of the gondolas coming by. The water is definitely more of a green there than a blue through the canals.
I honestly can’t even tell you how I got this photo. Pure luck. This was one of those shots, you see it and you say, “sure let’s give it a shot”. You have almost no hopes of getting it or it being in focus. But there it is, as I raised my camera quickly and fired away when I saw the pigeon flying by. I was lucky enough to get it in an interesting frame as it flew across St Marks’s Basilica in Venice.
This is a lantern in the bay on the edge of Piazza San Marco. I can imagine what these would look like when they are all lit up. I don’t know if they are still functioning because I didn’t see them at night turned on.
Pictured to the right is the Campanile in Piazza San Marco. Towards one of my last days there, I almost went inside because you could go up to the top and get a view of the city. Then I read how many stairs there were and after 6 days of 10-mile walking, I decided that might be a bad idea and I may not survive the climb. So I got a great view of it from the ground. I believe that there is an elevator but it was not working that day.
An outdoor restaurant on the edge of Piazza San Marco that just looked stunning with its rows of simple white covered tables. Each night you could walk by and hear music playing from local musicians on the violin and piano. It was peaceful to listen to while walking along the water’s edge at night.
In the background, you can see the area of the bridge of Sighs. Oddly it’s not the bridge you see there in the photo but you have to turn left there to see it between the two buildings. This was the main area where people would wait for the morning water taxis to go to various places and was a great place to people watch.
These also did not light up at night, so I can only imagine how great they must have looked. Maybe they are only lit during some times of the year or for festivals. They were very interesting none-the-less.
A lot of times it was just the color of things and the pattern in the emptiness that I thought was interesting to photograph. This was one of the many outdoor restaurants spread all across San Marco.
It’s the little things that some times found it’s way to make it into my top photographs. This one happens to be the people walking in the lower right corner of the photo. Set against the backdrop of one of the more beautiful for the campos in town, this was midday where there were a few more people roaming around and feeding the birds.
The photo on the left is taken from up above on the Rialto Bridge overlooking the grand canal. On the right, you can get a glimpse of the gondolas up close. Truly beautiful with all of their colors and fine details. No, I did not take a ride in one. Maybe I should have, but it felt very much like a couples thing to do.
I will be honest here and tell you that I have no idea what this is a statue of. I just found it interesting from where the light was hitting it across the blue sky. I am sure whoever it is, they are very important for Venice.
A lower view of the bustling canal as it wakes up in the early morning from the Rialto Bridge in Venice. That is a water taxi station that you see directly in front of you. On the right is a small pizza place that I did have lunch at on one of my days. You have to have pizza when in Italy right?
The golden hour of light in Venice would light up the buildings in the canal so beautifully. This is the same spot as the previous photo, only taken from a higher position and later in the day. What is really interesting about the Rialto bridge is that it’s filled with these really neat boutique shops. I bet it would be really neat to have a business there (despite the massively high taxes).
Some people may have a definite panic moment going down these streets. I may have walked a bit faster at night my first times down them. But they are so quiet. It might be a false perception of mine, but they seemed very safe to me. I sort of wondered where everyone would go after the sun went down. It was weird that the city still felt alive, despite that there was hardly anyone around. Many restaurants stay open very late, and there were neat outdoor bars and little places to grab a bite.
Here you see some people huddled around an outdoor bar. I am not a drinker by any means, but it was neat to see people sitting to enjoy a drink. The way it was lit just looked beautiful at night like a soft glow. You would find small packs of people like this at night and then walk and see no one.
This photo was taken at about 10 o’clock at night. And as you can see there were some people in the restaurant who had just sat down for dinner. It was the European way and was very different than what we do in the US. Dinner there was a time to sit and take your time over many courses as you spent the night talking with your best mates.
Of course, this is just the beginning of what I have to show you. Hopefully, it won’t take me nearly as long to get the rest up for you. I have a post that will be all about the people that I photographed as well as one dedicated to black and white. Then we will move on to Florence and Rome as we travel through Italy. I hope that you have enjoyed looking at the photos and that you will come back to see more soon! Feel free to share this post with people that want to see more about Italy or might be planning to go there themselves.
As is with our entire website, student-athletes who are shown here do not represent an official endorsement or promotion of our company. All student-athletes have paid full price for their sessions and have not been given any special privilege or deal not available to all students. Thank you