First off, wow! We knew you all were talented, but we didn’t expect to get so many fantastic shots of Italy when we launched our first-ever Walks of Italy Travel Photo Contest. Thank you to everyone for your snaps of Italy’s cities and countryside, people and culture. We’re so glad that we got to see them… and we’re so glad that you found such beautiful moments on your travels in Italy!
If we learned anything while running this contest, it’s that everyone has a different view of the “essence” of Italy. There are few countries richer, or more multifaceted, than this one!
And now, after much consideration, the winners are….
Our grand-prize winner: Brian Hartz of St. Paul, Minnesota snapped this shot in Spannocchia, an estate near Siena, on his first trip to Italy this past May. Spannocchia is a self-sufficient, organic farm that grows food and raises livestock. Here, Brian captures the farm in a rare moment of rest. (Note the bottle of wine at the Italians’ feet!). What Brian found unique about Italy, he says, is that “regular people seem to enjoy the textures of life in simple moments.” That’s definitely a big part of the essence of Italy, and for capturing it so beautifully, our hats are off to Brian… who can look forward to a big gift basket of Italian goodies sent to his home in St. Paul!
Finalist: Super-colorful Burano, an island in the Venetian lagoon, is one of our favorite places in Italy (in fact, stay tuned for an upcoming post on why!). It also seized the imagination of Samantha Seamans of Roseburg, Oregon, who grabbed this cool shot on her visit there. From the snazzy colors to the beautiful blue sky, this photo definitely shows the essence of Burano… and of Italy!
Finalist: Wow… what energy! The festival depicted here is no less than an all-out battle of, of all things, oranges. It’s an annual tradition in Ivrea, Italy, and, writes Elisabeth Dicey, “marks the rebellion of the people against tyrannical lords who ruled the town in the Middle Ages. It is an incredibly sticky (and sometimes painful!) food fight, and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.” Elisabeth is a senior at Clemson University in South Carolina, and spent her spring semester this year studying abroad in Turin. “One of the best decisions of my life!”, she says.
Finalist: We’re suckers for a beautiful Venice shot, but what we really liked about Edith Levy’s photo is that it shows the other side of Venice — the one that’s quiet, haunting, and tranquil. The most surprising thing? Edith grabbed this shot, of a gondola just off of St. Mark’s Square, in July… the height of tourist season. The trick, she says, is all in the timing. “During the day, tourists are everywhere, merchants are selling their wares and restauranteurs are enticing you to give their menus a try,” writes Edith, a Toronto, Canada native who just visited Italy this summer. “Venice is different in the wee hours of the morning.” In fact, she grabbed this shot at dawn. Hey, it takes effort for a picture as beautiful as this one!
Finalist: “I always look for something beyond the typical site,” writes Brian Bruner of Jasper, Indiana. With this photo, we think he found it! It’s of the famous Duomo in Siena, but you’d never know. All of the focus is on the architectural details and angles, and, most of all, on a couple experiencing il dolce fare niente (the “sweetness of doing nothing”) on the steps.
Finalist: To get this spectacular shot, Breezy Cranford, a photographer and Navy wife currently stationed in Naples, had to get off the beaten track. She found this quaint village and dam at the base of a mountain near Grotta del Vento, Tuscany, just north of Luca. “It shows how the small, quaint villages with century-old houess are still fully functional to this day,” she writes. “This is true Italy!”
Finalist: Catherine Rogliano, a senior at the University of Connecticut, snapped this photo of a friend while studying abroad in Florence for four months. Studying abroad “changed my life, to say the least,” she writes… and we’re guessing it gave her plenty of moments like this one! What could say “essence of Italy” more than enjoying a gelato, at dusk, overlooking the Arno?
Finalist: When traveling, says Erica Prairie of Minneapolis, Minnesota, she likes to photograph not the major tourist attractions, but the little details around them. This photo was actually taken near Rome’s Trevi Fountain, but focuses on something that even better shows the essence of Italy: love and romance! “I’m drawn to thinking about the stories of each of the couples that placed their lock here,” Erica says. “I wonder where they are now and if they are still together.”
Finalist: This stunning shot was taken by Luis Garrido, a native of Phoenix, Arizona. He trekked in Italy’s Dolomite mountains back in 2008, and he’s never forgotten it. He stayed in the town of Ortise and hiked different trails every day (the hotel staff, he says, was surprised at how much land he covered!). This gorgeous shot was taken just as he arrived at the first elevation hut on one of the trails.
Finalist: We couldn’t not give Breezy her second win in the contest for this dramatic photo. It’s of Pisa’s much-photographed Baptistery, Duomo and Leaning Tower (the tower’s all the way in the background), but not like you’ve ever seen them! Appropriately, this piazza is called the “Piazza of Miracles,” and we think you can get a sense of that miraculousness with this photo. Simply beautiful!
Thanks again to all of our contestants for your beautiful images and heartfelt descriptions. And stay tuned for more future contests with Walks of Italy!