Ciao Italia 15 Part Uno

After a week or so of being home and getting stuck into the thousands of images I took, I'm starting to get my head round the editing, during my tour of Italia I made a journal of the fun and memorable times I had which I hope you will take the time to read and join me on my tour of Italia, the experiences and memories couldn't have been made without the amazing people I met along the way.

Thursday April 30th 2015

No sleep, guess excitement took over the senses.

Awesome clear skies flying over Alps, could feel Italy was going to be a great experience

If Carlsberg did flights.

If Carlsberg did flights.

City - Bologna - 7th Largest City In Italy

Arrived in Bologna,  it gets a bad rep, after I eventually found the city centre was v. Impressed, full of old arches and the architecture is very Renaissance looking.. I checked out a few churches and the two famous towers which were unreal and highly worth a visit. I also ordered my first pizza with chips which was an interesting concept.

Think lost in translation.

Think lost in translation.

After scaling the leaning tower with a suitcase and backpack that proper drained me it was time to get a gelato ( i earned it) and made my way to the train to visit Venezia. The city is steeped with wee gems of history growing through it.

For 12€ it was a steal but there is a reason you don't immediately get a seat which I learnt of but after a two hour journey I then arrived in the most beautiful city in the world,which is still open to debate as almost anywhere in Italy is.


I left Bologna at 6 o'clock so you can imagine how busy the train was, but I left Bologna with a greater appreciation than started with even if it was on a flyby visit.





After two hours later, I arrived in Venezia, exited the station and was greeted by the majestic grand canal. The grand canal starts at the ferrovia (station) and ends at St. Marcos Square.

Once left ferrovia caught the bus boat (vaporetto) to a nearby island called lido de venezia where I joined my uncle and aunty devouring fresh lobster with pasta. It was some sight, I then retired early and hit the hay.


Friday 1st May 2015 


Next day an early start, had to make most of it as was special to not only me but my uncle as our birthdays was on same day so we decided to go island hopping. As Venice is on a lagoon it is made of an archipelago of smaller islands which should not be missed when visiting.


I had heard so many fascinating reports about Torcello and did not disappoint, a very beautiful island stepped with history and home to the oldest church, a Byzantian 1 at that which to describe in words wouldn't give it justice.




After torcello then hopped back on the ferry to Burano, now yesterday the weather was soo hot so I had expected this to be the case today, how wrong was I might I add as I had so read the weather wrong and as expected was freezing my ass off.Unfortunately Burano got the brunt of bad weather as the rain descended and took the fun of shooting this awesome island. Burano is home to lace while its neighbour Murano is home to glass and is fascinating to see old crafts and techniques still  being used.

Home Of Lace & Colour

Home Of Lace & Colour


One fact which you may well not be aware of Burano is famous for its crafts and colours, all the buildings are painted multi-coloured to help pilots of the Venetian boats navigate through the dense mist.


As the weather opened up, brollies out, we headed back on the ferry to Lido, made a formal change in record time and hopped back on a return ferry to Venice. Oh yea on mayday or 1st May not only is it a great day the locals love it so much they stop working and have a holiday so you can imagine the tourists plus locals = congested Venice. To guarantee we had a great meal fortunately my aunty booked a local restaurant that had been trading for nearly 40 years, a special restaurants in our hearts.


Now I did forget to mention that in Italy pizzas are on another level, and must be taken with respect as each pizza is different. In Burano through the hustle and bustle my uncle knew a great spot to eat, but he left one thing out, he never told me where he was eating so I guess shooting the colourful buildings I somehow lost track but after thirty minutes I eventually found them devouring an outrageous pizza. I'm sure you all know I appreciate a good pizza and this thankfully did not disappoint. Well now after having that late lunch the time it got to dinner I just got greedy and ordered another pizza, sure it was my birthday after all. After eventually eating it two minutes later the whole restaurant went black, was there a power cut across Venice, nope I'm sure you can all guess what happened, two tiramisus then landed on the table followed by candles with the whole restaurant watching me and Peter, let me tell you I thought my sunburn was bad this was a new tone of red. After the family's fun then had a few local spirits as you do and made way back to the vaporetto, as the pensioners were becoming tired we then made tracks back to lido stopping off at the station to check if could store my bag the next day.


Overall except no blue skies was a great birthday present and will be one to remember for a long time.


Day 2 Sat 2nd May 2015


The next day another early rise as the rest of family were leaving and it was time for me to move accommodation, I was moving to the heart of Venice and what a day to do it. After the wet night I scouted that I could leave luggage at the train station Ferrovia which was a great godsend so I did that and naturally went into explore mode. As was still a bank holiday the hordes of tourists were in every corner so I took a quick escape and went on a mini adventure exploring parts of Venice I had never really captured before. As the heat and people were too much I chilled out and 'inhaled' the life of Venice which was very interesting to take a view of local life.   Taking my time round the Ghetto I then made tracks to my accommodation situated by one of the many famous landmarks in Venice, the Rialto bridge. This bridge is known for the markets which are built in the centre of the bridge and runs down either side.


Again with everything in a city major renovation was taking place round the area. After eventually finding my accommodation I was very impressed after walking countless flights of stairs but was rewarded for Venice a very large apartment. After a homemade meal by the amazing host Katerina I then headed back out to venture to the creme de la creme which is St Marcos Square.


Unfortunately the clouds blocked the sun for sunset but was still a very busy city and countless opportunities to capture. As 10 o'clock I started to pinch myself how beautiful the square was as the high tide had just come in and parts of the square had become flooded and to any photographer that is a dream shot as gives the iconic surrounding a new perspective. St. Marcos is not only know for the inspiring buildings and monuments, it is also re known for buying the most expensive coffee in the world, simply to the fact that not only do you have an intimate quartet to yourself but a view that never gets old. Surrounding the square are marble arches, which are home to the best designer shops in the world and is prime real estate. After getting a high from the reflections I then took a short walk round the canals which were thankfully much quieter than before giving me the opportunity to capture my iconic shots. Before I knew it not only had midnight had passed but I now found myself the power to shoot Venice by night with no tourists or bodies in my way which I was delighted about. 


It then appeared I wasn't alone as in the distance I heard a kiwi accent I naturally introduced myself and it turned out to be world travel photographer Trey Ratcliff. I had only recently heard of this guy through his HDR technique on landscapes and travel but he's living the dream and was great that fame hadn't got to his head, was a very down to earth guy and had invited me to return tomorrow to join him on a photowalk around Venice.


Now 2am approached I think it was time for sleep as the next day I had arranged to meet a local Italian photographer Ugo Cei who lived nearby in Milan.


 Day 3. Sun 3rd May 2015

After returning in the early hours I woke up at 11, rendezvoused with Ugo outside the apartment and  later met up with two other local Italians Francesco and Nico who were so friendly and having local knowledge in this city was a delight and so we went fine dining in the local tavernas. Hey these guys were shooting Fuji and canon, I was so impressed that instead of carrying gear all Nico had was Fuji x100 with a fixed 35mm, no bag. I was very impressed. Ugo was shooting 10-20 Fuji xe-1 & Francesco on a canon 70-200 (400d)

Unfortunately one place which we ate was known for happy hour which served a buffet and two for ones on drinks, had not been on at the times we were there so we got a little robbed at the price but hey, still an unreal restaurant and one of the best places I've dined at in Venice. I had a gnocchi and was absolutely spectacular. 


Meet Trey & Ugo

Meet Trey & Ugo




After that unreal meal we then leisurely strolled round Venice getting to know one another, I had never really experienced the beauty of the chiesa (churches) round Venice until Ugo showed me Santa Maria which was breathtaking inside and such a marvel of architecture. We then headed to Accademia were I realised that my back was light, and thankfully with hindsight I picked up a biz card from the last place, got Ugo to call through and the bag was still there which I would pick up later.

So there was no problems there which was a relief, we then proceeded our walk until we came back to St Marcos. I then got my bag and headed to the meet point for Treys photo walk were a good number of tripods were huddled in a circle attached to their owners.




This had the making of a long night, once we figured the route we then made haste at a fast pace round the streets of Venice. thankfully he showed me and a number of other photographers new territory to shoot which did not and could not disappoint. Again once the sun came down the clouds blocked the making of a great sunset. As I had been shooting the sunset the group didn't want to wait round so made tracks to their next point. Thankfully I knew Ugo who was part of the group and was blessed that he sent me directions on where to go. 

Me & Trey Ratcliff

Me & Trey Ratcliff

After eventually meeting up and realising the whole restaurant consisted of the photo group, spent surprisingly a short time connecting, which turned into a dead haul. As most people were starving and shattered after the walking including us four we went off to another Taverno and guess what I ate again, another magical gnocchi.

We then exchanged our photos and with broken English and Italian had a great night.

Once the Italian guys then left I then took a few more night shots, stopped for a few drinks which escalated into a few more hours, before I knew it it was 3 am and I was set to leave in the morning but the craic was mighty and my agenda was to shoot Venice so I naturally experienced Venice by night.


Venice By Night


My new amigo was staying in Giudecca and without spending 80€ on a taxi we naturally took the cheaper option.

It is one of the best things I have ever done as stereotypically I see Venice in a new light meeting the many random drunks, workers and wildlife and having the areas at daytime all to myself.

Not only I'm a sucker for reflections but if the light is great I get even more excited and this was no exception as the full moon was forecasted to rise today. After walking round before I knew it I was running round in the blue hour or dusk trying to capture all I could and then in a two minute frame the whole sky turned pink which was just bellissimo as only how to describe it.

The tiredness was now kicking in so I hopped on a vaporetto back to Rialto. 

Fortunately there was space for another night so was able to catch up on sleep which was well received indeed, thanks to Katerina.

If interested in part 2, please leave a comment, thanks for reading part 1.




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