Tag Archives: italy

Photoshop Skills

I nearly didn’t take part in this weeks PhotoFriday challenge, “Photoshop Skills,” as I’m not a big Photoshop user. I tend to tweak images, enhance the colours, maybe a little dodging and burning, but nothing that would show my Photoshop skills — the whole point of my edits are normally that you can’t see them!

Then I remembered that I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the years trying to make the perfect panorama. The above image, taken in Siena, Italy, is perhaps the best that I’ve managed. (I’ve used a variant of this one before for PhotoFriday.)

Please also vote for my entry in last weeks PhotoFriday challenge, “Best Friend.” I’m entry number 173.


There are quite a lot of options for a theme like “Square,” but in the end I decided on this one of a square access hatch covered in graffiti. I’m not sure whether “Earth Liberation Front” is a serious organisation or not but the name amused me.

It was taken in Corniglia, one of the towns of the Cinque Terre.

Please also vote for my entry in the last challenge of last year, “Best of 2009.” I’m entry number 188.

Desenzano, Italy

View over Sirmeone, Italy

There’s no PhotoFriday this week but I thought I’d post an picture anyway. This one was taken in August 2001 and is from Sirmeone looking back down the peninsula towards Colombare. It was this holiday, in Northern Italy, when I first started getting into photography more seriously. I went to Desenzano with no plans and a stack of different types of film. I’d read a lot about Velvia 50 and really wanted to like it but I ended up sticking to Sensia which tended to work better for me and was significantly cheaper!

Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre — a series of small, connected coastal villages — has been on my, admittedly rather long, list of places to visit for some time, but when I first flew out to Tuscany I didn’t quite know how achievable it would be. Sure, Google Maps said that it would be a two hour drive from the villa, but I wasn’t completely sure that I was using the right address and I have been late several times when relying on directions cribbed from the Internet.

Having been there nearly a week and roughly established the time required to get to Pisa, more or less the half-way stage to the Cinque Terre, I decided that I might as well try to get there.

By the time I got past Pisa I was questioning my sanity. I’d had to get up early which is something that I never consider to be a good start to a day. I’d have been willing to overlook that had it not been raining. Heavily. It was the kind of rain where the water bounces from the bonnet and the wipers running at full speed still result in a blurred windscreen and visibility barely beyond the front of the car1.

Still, having made it that far I decided to continue.

As I approached La Spezia — the last big town before the five villages — it cleared up and when I got to the first village, Riomaggiore, the clouds had lifted slightly and there was even some blue sky. How lucky could I be?

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Not lucky enough! When I pulled off the highway I found that the car park was full. What to do next? Head back to La Spezia and get the train or continue on to Manarola hoping that the car park was less full?

I decided on the latter. Taking the turn off the SP270 I was surprised to see plenty of parking by the side of the road. At the bottom of the hill was a car park which is where I stopped.

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The route down to the water-front was further than I was expecting. First I passed a church which was perched over a great view. The path continues, looking worryingly residential for a while. Am I going the right way? (Given the lack of other options I assume so.)

I round a corner and a long stream of cafes and restaurants starts, pausing only temporarily for a slightly raised square. Many of these places have greeters encouraging passers-by in, and most have pictures of the food on the menu — always a bad sign in my book. I’m pretty hungry by this point and am forced to stop in one for a quick sandwich, which the waitress somehow manages to drop in my drink!

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

By the time I finish my latte the sun is out properly and it’s getting comfortably hot. I decide that I’ve come all this way so I will, at the very least, walk along to the next village. There are no obvious signs but there’s only one path along the coast so I guess it must be that one.

It is. And it’s beautiful. Before long I can see back to Manarola, and from this distance I can’t see the pushy waiters and the postcard stands. The walk is along a decent path and is fairly flat, which means that I can concentrate on the views rather than my breathing.

Beer bottles in Corniglia, Cinque Terre, ItalyThat is right until the final approach to the next village, which I now discover is called Corniglia. Just past the train station2 there are approximately a million steps heading up a steep hillside.

By the time I get to the top I am desperately in need of an ice-cream. Perhaps it’s just the locals way of keeping the good stuff for the worthy, but the gelato here looks much better than that in Manarola.

Corniglia, Cinque Terre, Italy

I sit and relax, looking out over the sea, admiring the view and thinking how happy I am that I made it here. True, it was a long drive and I only managed to quickly have a look around two of the five villages but it was worth it. I’d happily come back and try to give the area the time in deserves.

  1. I may be slightly over-dramatising events here. Nevertheless, the rain would have made walking from village to village incredibly soggy and miserable. []
  2. All the towns are connected by a train line that starts in La Spezia. []