My photography trip to Italy this year was very different from the one in 2013, so I thought it would be interesting to compare those two trips. In 2013, I toured around northern Italy for 16 days. In 2014, I spent about the same amount of time, but split it between Rome and Barcelona. In 2013, I rented a car, had a very detailed and aggressive itinerary, stayed in 8 different towns (Milan, Bergamo, Padua, Venice, Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Florence and Cinque Terra) and stopped in several more (Verona, Vincenza, Ravenna, Siena and Genoa). In 2014, I spent my Italian week without a car entirely in Rome, with just a single day trip to Naples.
The change of pace was by choice. I thought I would slow things down a bit and spend a more leisurely time soaking up the atmosphere while taking photographs. However it didn’t work out that way. In 2013, I was either walking around all day or driving between towns. In 2014, I rented a city bike and spent many hours each day cycling and walking, which was at least as strenuous as last year. As you can tell from the photos below, my favorite times to shoot are early in the morning and late in the evening, so on both trips the days were long. But since the days were a little shorter in October, the schedule in 2014 was a little less punishing.
The major difference between the trips was the amount of variety I encountered. Rome is a wonderful city and I think I could happily spend the rest of my life there. But it is just one city, and it cannot hope to match the visual variety that the northern half of Italy can offer. Also, I was lucky in 2013 to experience a wide range of weather and lighting conditions, and even a flood in Venice. I came back from my 16-day 2013 trip with about 4,500 images that resulted in a 240-page book. This year, my 7 days in Rome yielded about 1,500 images from which I have so far produced a more modest 60-page book of black and white images. (You can see both in the Books page.)
I had a great time in Italy and Spain this year, but northern Italy last year remains the benchmark by which I will continue to judge my photography trips. I realized that taking it easy doesn’t really work for me (not yet, anyway). I want my days to be jam-packed and will end up making them that way, even if I set out with a different objective in mind.
I plan to talk more about photography trip preparation in subsequent posts, but one of the key first steps in planning such a trip is to know yourself. How much do you want to put into it and what do you want to get out of it? In my case, I know I’ll be dialing it back up a notch next time around.