Few places have made a larger cultural impression on me than the nation of Italy. Upon this ancient land, the regions of Tuscany and it’s neighboring Liguria have found a small niche literally inside my soul. I’m taken by the rolling hills of forest, vineyard and olive grove that cover the landscape of Toscana. I long to photograph those singular hilltops that rise from morning’s mist where, in ancient times, Etruscans built their walled villages and farmed the nearby foothills.
Blessed with an artistic passion for photography, we view every Tuscan scene as if framed and hanging on a wall. We see life through an Italian viewfinder. Everywhere one looks, a composition awaits. Culture, history, architecture, agriculture and nature compete to be recorded, interpreted and shared.
Under every rural horizon, there’s a composition. When we walk an urban setting, the people, their culture and architecture offer countless opportunity. Italians seem to be born with the innate ability to decorate. They have learned that function can have form, and visual interest. Everything has a place and there is a place for everything. Their land, cities and villages are alligned, accessorized, landscaped, manicured, painted and on display for all to enjoy. They have learned that life is so much easier to accept when it’s surrounded with pleasing visiual cues. Take this scene as an example. Simple as it may seem, a farmhouse on a hill is thoughtfully surrounded by landscape, and, in the foreground, ivy grows with purpose to frame the view. None of this is perchance. It is rather, artwork with intention.
Liguria… This incredibly beautiful region of Italy borders the Ligurian Sea, which, in reality are the waters of the Mediterranean bordering the northwestern coast of mainland Italy. Like Tuscany, it’s economy is tourism and agriculture, with a bit of Portoro Marble, a prized black marble with gold veining coming from Portovenere, the southernmost of village clinging to the rocky coastline below the Cinque Terre.
Nowhere in Italy are colors more vibrant than found in the architecture clinging to the cliffs and escarpments that comprise a small northwestern coastal region known as the Cinque Terre [Five Lands.] Located totally within the boundaries of Italy’s Parco Nazionalle delle Cinque Terre, a cliffside trail connects all five villages. Totalling less than 18 kilometers hiking distance the trail could be walked in about 5 hours –– providing the entire route is open. Along the trail, views of the sea, vineyards and olive grove cling to the terraced slopes bordering wildly coloured villages, each with tiny harbors and fishing boats. Here, the mind is overloaded by natural and man-made art and our discoveries afford opportunities to witness the imagination, kindness and insight of a people, and a land –– so bountiful and visually stunning. Here, we are blessed to learn so much about, and make photographs of, a more simple existence where it seems there is an order to life we’ve not managed to adopt in America. Is it not then reasonable to understand why –– Italia is quite honestly an unforgetable land? Artists daydream a lot. I do. And right now, Italia is on my mind.