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Thread: Venice and Tuscany

  1. #1
    Member losta's Avatar
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    Venice and Tuscany

    Any tips? I am going to Italy next spring I'll be in Venice, Tuscany (staying in Florence and Siena) and Cinque Terra.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    I recently saw a documentary (on the Travel Channel?) about the Cinque Terra. I couldn't find a link, but thought you might like this: http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/08/05...l/05hours.html

    Steve

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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    You will have to watch your weight, being in Tuscany is a weight watchers nightmare.

    My suggestion would be to stay in any of the nearby small villages, rather than the touristic towns. Rent a Vespa!! We did ( not a Vespa though! )

    Florence, Sienna glorious, but too many visitors.

    Take only the essential most photo gear with you, depending on what you shoot. Enjoy Italy in Spring, rather than be changing lenses.

    My suggestion: 1 lens, one camera.

    Have a safe and super visit.

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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    It sounds like you will be in Venice after "Carnival." (late February - March). If so, that is too bad. It is really a visual feast. Great photographic possibilities with all the costumes set against the Venetian architecture. Get a good map of Venice. It is obviously a walking town. However, it is quite easy to get lost, and a lot of streets sort of lead to nowhere. However, that is part of the adventure. We normally stay at the Danieli (a bit pricey ... close St. Mark's and the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) and it has wonderful views).

    As to Tuscany. You will be in the area known as "Chianti Classico." Florence always has its share of tourists, no matter what time of the year. (It was snowing there last week ... so that may have slowed some of them down a bit.) However, being the birth place of the Renaissance, Florence has much to offer and see. The same with Siena. It is slightly smaller and should be less crowded. (If you get to Siena try to have a meal at Osteria Le Logge ... it is right off the Piazza del Campo.) There numerous small towns that dot the country side from Florence to Siena, like Greve and Panzano. Both are worth stopping at and having a look or a meal. (If you go to Panzano, you must stop and see Dario Cecchini and his butcher shop, "Antica Macelleria Cecchini" and his new restaurant ... you won't be disappointed.) As I mentioned you are in the heart of the Chianti wine region and there are numerous wineries in the area, along with more vineyards than you will ever care to see. Most wineries accept visitors, but some do not. You may want to check with the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico (the Gallo Nero ... or Black Rooster trade association) at http://www.chianticlassico.com/english/index.asp for a list of wineries, opening times, tastings, restaurants, etc.

    You could literally spend months in the area and just begin to scratch the surface.

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    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    While in Venice, a trip by "water bus" to the nearby island of Burano is very photogenic. It's an island where the little houses are all painted a variety of bright colors.

    The funnest thing to do in Venice proper is just to wander around and let yourself get lost, looking at the buildings, canals and churches along the way. Whenever you're ready to get un-lost, you'll soon see a sign pointing to somewhere on a main path.

    In the Florence/Siena portion of Tuscany, my favorite small town was Volterra. It has bits of Etruscan ruins around it, and feels more authentic (less touristy) than many other towns around there, but was still very interesting. Many alabaster workshops, so save some cash and luggage space for small alabaster works.

    My experience with food in Italy is consistent with the local Italian saying, "The more you pay, the worse you eat." I was very disappointed by the handful of fine restaurants I tried, but loved the food at most of the simple little trattorias.

    And don't miss the gelato! The very best gelato places (especially "Perche No" and "Vivoli" in Florence) have scrumptious freshly homemade gelato that puts regular ice cream to shame. While traveling in Italy, lunch for us is often just a big serving of gelato! The following book is one I consider the most valuable on my home travel book shelf:
    http://www.amazon.com/Gelato-Finding...3040703&sr=8-1

    I have a bunch of photos of Venice and Tuscany (both in mid-winter) on my web site (see my signature line) if you want more ideas.

    Lisa

  6. #6
    jamie123
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    It's Cinque Terre, not Terra. Also, I never understood why Americans say "gelato". It's just ice cream. In Italian you say "gelato" whether it's Ben&Jerry's or ice cream from the corner shop. Gelato means "iced", nothing more, nothing less.
    Sorry, just had to get this off my chest

    Lisa is right, the fancy expensive restaurants are mostly tourist traps. That being said, it's not hard to eat well in Tuscany. Try some bistecca fiorentina. Remember, there's much more to Italian food than pizza and pasta.

    It's good that you're going in Spring and not in Summer. Summer's way too hot and crowded with tourists.

    Have fun on your trip!

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    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Quote Originally Posted by jamie123 View Post
    It's Cinque Terre, not Terra. Also, I never understood why Americans say "gelato". It's just ice cream. In Italian you say "gelato" whether it's Ben&Jerry's or ice cream from the corner shop. Gelato means "iced", nothing more, nothing less.
    Sorry, just had to get this off my chest
    At least in the U.S., the term "gelato" is used to mean "Italian-style ice cream". The stuff in Italy is slightly different from standard American ice cream - it's creamier and less sweet, and usually in a much wider variety of flavors. In the U.S., "gelato shops" sell Italian-style ice cream rather than American style ice cream.

    In Italy, as long as you avoid the big international chains, it's *all* Italian-style gelato!

    Lisa

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    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    P.S. If you're looking for the best restaurants and lodgings, I've found the web site tripadvisor.com to be a great resource, with customer reviews.

    Lisa

  9. #9
    jamie123
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    At least in the U.S., the term "gelato" is used to mean "Italian-style ice cream". The stuff in Italy is slightly different from standard American ice cream - it's creamier and less sweet, and usually in a much wider variety of flavors. In the U.S., "gelato shops" sell Italian-style ice cream rather than American style ice cream.

    In Italy, as long as you avoid the big international chains, it's *all* Italian-style gelato!

    Lisa
    Yeah I know, I just find it odd. It's one of those things I always shake my head at. Another would be "swiss cheese" which has little to do with actual Swiss cheese. Or "pancetta" which is simply bacon.

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    Member losta's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Well I do plan to bring a few lenses, but in general I will carry only one or two. I don't change lenses much. I am going for a photography workshop in Venice and will be doing the Tuscany and Cinque Terre portion with a friend. I should have plenty of time to wander and get lost, find things and travel to outer island in the 10 days I'm in Venice.

    Thanks for the link Lisa, nice photos, lucky you there in the snow, I saw some photos online from last week in Venice and Florence with lots of snow.

    I have been doing lots of research on Trip Advisor and Rick Steves as well as other sites. One of the things I've learned is to ask the price of Gelato before you order, some reports I've read online people were being charged 10 euro for one gelato when no price was posted. I'm just looking for some photographers point of view, so thanks everyone so far.

    I plan on transporting my gear (Canon 5DMKII 14, 35 and 70-200 F4ISL) in a Think Tank Airport Take Off and then carrying it day to day in a TT Urban Disguise 35. I'll probably bring either another small Canon body or M4/3 and a few small lenses, new MacBook Air and a few 500 GB portable hard drives.

  11. #11
    Adam Marelli
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Hey Lisa,

    Have fun on the trip, it should be wonderful. I have been through northern Italy a bunch, my family used to live just outside of Brescia. Tomorrow I am leaving for Venice and Padua for the holiday.


    Cinque Terre: Vernazza and Monterosso are of the towns. Vernazza is a bit smaller and a quieter place to stay. The hotel room was perched way up on the cliff. If you google images of the town you will see a small harbor. Many of the rooms are at the top of the hill and look out at the sea on the back side of the cliff. Super dramatic views.

    There is a foot path, about 45 min walking, that connects Vernazza to Monterosso. Its a nice way to travel between the towns. Monterosso is a larger town, with a few hotels along the beach road. A great place to stroll around, but not sure how active it will be in spring time. The ocean will still be pretty chilly.

    Venice. http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=93

    Is a great place to get lost. If you are looking for a place to stay, we always stay with Matteo, at Al Ponte Antico. Its located just north of the Rialto Bridge. It is a good central location for excursions and they have a balcony that over looks the canal where you can have breakfast.

    When you walk around, try to spend time in Dorsoduro, Castello, and Cannaregio. So far the best guide book I have found is Wallpaper's City Guides "Venice". If you have an iPhone is available as an App.

    My advice for shooting Venetians is to smile and say hi. They can be very stand off is, because they see so many tourists every year, but if you take a visible interest in their city and their lives, they often respond well.

    People also say the food is bad in Venice. This is non-sense. Try Al Covo (Cesare and Diane have run the place for years, its fantastic and Oseteria San Marco. This place is in the center of the San Marco shopping district and it should be a mess, but surprisingly it is very good.

    If you get a chance to go outside of the city try a day trip to the vineyard Corte Sant'Alda. Ask for Marinella, she runs the place. They will show you around the grounds and inside the wine makings facilities. All bio-dynamic wines and you will be given a healthy sampling at the end. They are just outside of Verona, so its only a 45 minute train ride from Venice.

    This to avoid:
    Anything to do with glass. Its a tourist trap.
    Any restaurant that has people holding menus out front.
    Looking like a professional photographer. Italy has a serious amount of Paparazzi, so while you might be inclined to take the 70-200 it will attract a lot of attention.

    Other than that have a blast and if you have any more questions let me know.

    And the difference between gelato and ice cream is gelato is made with milk, ice cream is made with cream. As a result, ice cream must be stored at colder temperatures because it has a higher fat content. The milk component of gelato allows it to be molded into billowy pillows of goodness.

    Best-Adam
    http://www.adammarelliphoto.com

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    Member losta's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Thank you very much Adam. Just the type of information I was hoping to find. I enjoyed your Venice series with your 50 cron. I recently sold my Leica gear (Blasphemy) but I really wasn't using it and my 50+ eyes had increasing trouble focusing.

    My normal walk around street shooting lens is the 35L, I know I want to capture some architectural details and reflections and that is what I am bringing the 70-200 zoom for. I did another photo workshop in Paris several years ago and I used the 35L the entire time, only on my last day in Paris after the workshop did I put the 24-105 on.

    I looked up the Phaidon wallpaper guide and the Venice one is not yet available for iPhone (8 other city guides are now), hopefully it will be before spring. I have several guides and am hoping more will become available digitally so I can view them on the iPad and iPhone instead of carrying books. I have a couple good maps and plan to get sim for an unlocked android phone to have data access there. Hard to do with the iPhone because it's locked and has a micro sim but that may not be as big an issue come spring.

    Have a Happy Holiday in Venice and Padua!

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    Senior Member kweide's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Enjoy Italy ! It is great country a paradies for photografers and non-weight-watchers
    Enjoy the Vino and the superb food. Go where the inhabtans go and be surprised !

    Italy, my favorite !
    __________________________________________________
    Part of the Wonderland
    see more ( NSFW ) on : http://www.klaweide.de

  14. #14
    Adam Marelli
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Hey Lisa,

    So far Venice and Padua have been wonderful. Yes, I can see where a 70-200 would come in handy. There are so many beautiful little details in the architecture here. Not sure if you enjoy reading, but John Ruskin's "Stones of Venice" is a short novella on Venetian buildings. The most striking thing about Venice is that it is a gothic anomaly. There is no other city in Italy that has such a strange mixture of Gothic styles. All of the carved details actually pay homage to different natural forces like the wind, animals, fire ect.

    Reading it will give you a new appreciation for why Venice is so peculiar.

    The other thing people say about Venice is the food stinks. This is not accurate. There are fabulous, fairly priced restaurants in the city. The difficulty is, many of the good places look just like the tourist traps. But if you want to eat well keep some of these names handy.

    Osteria San Marco: Only a stones throw from the main square, but a very good place for lunch or dinner.
    Antico Dolo: Just on the opposite side of the Rialto Bridge from San Marco. Venetian seafood that is to die for.
    Barababao: This place means "The Boogey Man" but is a local spot. Most of the people who run our hotel eat there. Its great. Pasta, meat, seafood.
    La Botte: This place is tucked in a alley way wide enough for two people. I was like "could there really be a restaurant down here?!" There was, and it was fabulous.
    Al Covo: For your special dinner, splurge on this place. We come every year to see Diane (actually a Texan ex Pat) and Ceseare. You will see it in guide books, but its wonderful.
    Quattro Feri: If you are over on the Peggy Guggenheim side of the Grand Canal, this place is just off of a little square. Wooden tables, dark beam ceilings feel like they are 400 years old. They probably are. Food here is much less expensive because of the location, but superb.

    As you can tell, I love it here and just wanted to share some treasures with you. Sorry to hear that the Leica gear was sold off, but hey whatever works for you. The pictures are all that matters.

    Some pics from this trip are up on my site. I am reviewing a Version III 35mm Summicron. Its been great so far.

    Best-Adam

    http://adammarellliphoto.com

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    Member losta's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Thanks Adam, I enjoyed your photos of Venice and Padua. I especially enjoyed several of them like the two women talking and the guarded white statue and several others. I am copying your suggestions to a file. You have an extra l (lower case L) in your link above you might want to edit that.

    I have been reading many books about Venice and have Ruskin's Stones of Venice on my reading List. Currently I'm reading a Jan Morris book on Venice from the 1950's (as opposed to Ruskins 1850's).

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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    Venice was fantastic at dawn, before the hordes of boatloads arrived. You almost have the place to yourself with some great photo opps in good light. Many people don't stay on the island, but this is one more reason to stay on the island. I loved the mask shops. Many mask shop proprietors don't let you take photos but some do especially the ones away from the main drag, so don't give up if you like that as a subject.

    Florence is renowned for its greatness, but Sienna seems an unheralded gem and a better place to spend time because Florence has the character of a big city unlike Siena. Also, the tuscan towns around Siena felt more rustic and like going back in time. I'm not an expert on this area but we stayed there for a week and this was our impression.

    If you like mountains, the dolomites just north of Venice are spectacular and a unique mountain range.

    I wish I'd made it to Cinque Terre....

    http://www.pbase.com/vinaymala2000/italy

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    Member losta's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    I'm looking forward to my travels in Italy as I leave in 2 weeks. Thank you all for advice. I was hoping to have the Fujifilm X100 (that I have already paid for) for the trip and am still hoping but it may not work out, if not I have plenty of other photo gear and am looking forward to getting up very early seeing Venice in the early morning light especially with my wide angle lenses 14mm Canon, 21mm Zeiss and a few other Canon lenses and a lensbaby for the M4/3.

    I will have my 5DMKII and an M4/3 also a Go Pro camera I will wear at times and to time-lapse with. I will bring my Gitzo traveler tripod and another small table top tripod, I am wondering if I should bring a monopod too but am still undecided on that.

    Any last minute tips?

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    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
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    Re: Venice and Tuscany

    I'm actually going to be in Venice for a day or two too, in about three weeks, on my way to Slovenia.

    When I went to Florence a few years back, I bought tickets ahead of time (to avoid lines) for the Uffizi Gallery at a web site called "Weekend in Italy". I get emails from them occasionally, and just last week got one announcing that one can buy one's way for 2 euros to Venice's St. Mark's Basilica "fast lane" entrance (to avoid the frequent long lines to get in) from them. I plan to use it. If you're interested, the web page is here:
    http://en.venezia.waf.it/

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