Every city worth visiting has its “Chamber of Commerce photo” (as our friend Lou calls them)…..that landmark picture that makes you say: Paris (Eiffel Tower), London (Big Ben), San Francisco (Transamerica Pyramid), New York (Empire State Building), Rome (Colosseum). However, Italy is littered with iconic sites which, when seen on TV, travel magazines, calendars or postcards from friends, immediately bring to mind the words: Ah…..The Romance of Italy.
These places are mostly in the countryside, and the great thing is that ANYONE can get the exact same shot, and it will be almost (though never close to 100%) as good as the professional. For instance – that picture of Orvieto at the top of this blog? So many people were stopping on the road to take that photo that it was becoming very dangerous, forcing the town to put in a special paved pull-off. The result is that today everyone can stop and get that precise shot.
While the Orvieto view is now incredibly easy to get, others you just luck upon, and some you really have to search out…….for instance, what I refer to as The Zig-Zag Road. I had driven and biked on the road, so I knew exactly where it was, but it took me several visits to the area to figure out how the hell to get the picture. As you can see – I’ve been back a few times since then.
This little chapel appears on a lot of postcards. One day, I was driving along, looked over to the left, and there it was way off on the horizon. I almost didn’t recognize it as the place I’d seen so many times in print.
Fortunately, this year I was finally able to get a shot that I could blow up and still have it be recognizable enough to use in my “Skies” blog a couple of weeks ago. It’s not nearly as good as the professional photos, but at least I know what it is.
The people who own this lovely agritorismo (below) in Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia very kindly lined the driveway with that area’s trademark cypresses, and we’ve been taking photographs of it ever since. The only problem is that so many people are now stopping that soon this town might also have to think about putting in a paved photo pull-off area like Orvieto’s to keep the cars from piling up.
Even when you spot an iconic site, it can often be difficult to stop to get its photo. As many times as I’ve driven past this little copse of cypresses there’s only been one time I was able to stop, quickly roll down a window, snap it and take off before cars came along.
Below is one of Rick Steves’ favorite spots — Civita di Bagnoregio — which is very close to Orvieto. This sort of falls into its own category — between Chamber of Commerce photo and Iconic Countryside photo. Because of Rick, it’s been showing up on more and more calendars. The nice things are that it’s very easy to find, there’s no traffic, and you can get as close as you want. All you need to do to get this shot is show up with a camera. Yes, it takes a bit of the “thrill of the chase” out of picture-taking, but sometimes it’s just easier to buy the postcards for the places that need “chasing”. They serve equally well as reminders back home that you did indeed get to see your favorite “Romance of Italy” sites in person.