Best Photo Locations: Manarola, Italia — Finding Something Different

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© Donato Buccella

If you’re primarily an on-location photographer or filmmaker, then you know how much value a great location can add to the shoot. This is the blog’s new series, Best Photo Locations, where I feature supercool locations around the world. Stuff I discover, stuff that others send me, places I’d love to shoot. Of course feel free to chime in, share, link, or otherwise contribute in your own way.

A two hour train ride from the Renaissance art mecca that is Florence brings you to Le Cinque Terre — or “The 5 Lands”. Five picturesque fishing villages situated on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea lend a glimpse into old Italy because of the little rule that no cars or motorbikes are allowed.

Hiking into Manarola – the oldest of the towns – from the surrounding vineyards, you are met with pastel buildings that appear to have been whimsically built into the hillside.  It’s the quintessential vision of Italy.  Wandering through the narrow and sometimes steep passageways that make up the town, you will eventually find yourself at the harbor.  A perfect place to take a dip in the blue water and snap shots of the fishermen in their boats.  Click through the images above for some inspiration. And check out out Rick Steve’s write-up here. I love this quote from Steve’s description of Cinque Terre. He nails it:

Each rugged little town is a variation on the same theme: a well-whittled pastel jumble of homes filling its ravine.

The opportunities for stunning photos in Manarola will fill up your memory cards and drain your batteries in no time. Around every corner there is something photo-worthy. The architecture and color combined with the magical landscape and beautiful local people provide never-ending fodder. As a result, this whole area has been photographed from probably every angle you can think of. And we’ve all seen the screen-saver shots of these classic villages and the tall buildings and towers that stood as defense against pirates who frequented the ancient Ligurian coast. You will have 100 photos of the quaint village nestled into the hillside without trying. These “screensaver” shots that capture exactly what Steve’s quote describes above are beautiful and will no doubt inspire countless others to follow in your footsteps and visit Cinque Terre in search of re-creating their own version of the “5 lands.” They will leave satisfied that they got the shot. Here’s a quick view of what comes up when you do a Google image search for Cinque Terre. It all the looks the same to me. Just a recreation of the postcards you can buy in any one of these towns.

The real challenge in a place like this, visited each year by thousands and thousands of camera toting travelers – is to take a photo that has not been taken before. To re-visit the theme of last week’s chasejarvisLIVE ( guest was my homie and snowboarding legend Travis Rice): Be different, not just better. You have to get lower, get higher, get up earlier, stay up later – do whatever you think is too inconvenient, too outrageous, too unreasonable for others to repeat. Visit the docks in the middle of the night and make friends with the local fisherman. Take photos of their bait before they set out to go fishing for anchovies. Look at their hands. Go out in bad weather. Tell a new story.

For more on Manarola go here.

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