Mark Forbes: The Italian Job

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In November 2018 I was fortune to spend 2 weeks travelling through the beautiful country that is Italy. It really was a very special experience visiting in what would generally be considered a quieter time of the year for visitors. I took with me two of my favourite cameras and films that are very well suited to travel photography - a Leica M6 / Fuji Superia 400 and a Mamiya 7 / Kodak Porta 400.

Many visitors would visit Italy in either mid summer or maybe when the ski season is at it’s peak, so visiting in the “off season” meant that there were less tourists to contend with - which for me was perfect. When I knew that I was visiting Italy, I was very keen to visit different regions to get an idea for the contrast that is on offer. I started and finished my travels from Venice’s Marco Polo airport. Spending anywhere from a few short hours to days in each place, the journey took me through Treviso, Venezia, Catania (Sicily), Taormina (Sicily), Firenze, Milano, Como, Bolzano to Cortina d’Ampezzo and finally back to Venezia.

I really love travel photography, and as much as possible try to capture some of the uniqueness of the surroundings - generally by avoiding the traditional tourist areas. Another part of travel that I enjoy capturing is the journey and transit itself - with airports, planes, stations, trains, buses and the like often offering great photo opportunities.

Getting to see such varied regions of the country was enjoyable, I love street photography in a traditional sense - so the towns of Venezia, Firenze & Milano were a buzz to be in, with the modern buildings contrasting against architecture that had been there for hundreds of years.

There were also older Italians immaculately dressed going about their business - which really gave it all an old worldly feeling. Sicily too was really a very interesting place to visit - with a different feeling to the Italian mainland. Fortunately, even though it was mid November, the weather was on my slde walking around the seaside town of Taormina - which included spectacular views of the Mediterranean.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the drive from Bolzano to Cortina. This came at the end of the two weeks, and was the last part of the travelling to be planned. When I looked at the other areas I was going to, I could see that I was missing mountains - and of course snow too. Coming from Australia, good quality snow covered mountains and craggy peaks is something that we don’t get to see. After doing some reading about the Great Dolomites road it sounded like it would fit the bill perfectly. The drive itself through the snow and fog was spectacular and something that I will never forget. It was made even more special as there really was virtually no-one else on the roads, the drive and surroundings were truly incredibly surreal. As I was stopping so often to take in the view, I ended up driving the last couple of hours in darkness. The image of the lone house in the pitch black was taken in the middle of a heavily snow covered field in silence - which for me added to the whole photographic experience.

Fitting in so many parts of Italy in just two weeks was really the way that I love to travel, and most days I was out walking around for hours and hours. Having said all that I know that this trip only scratched the surface - and I would love to return to see much much more.

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All images © Mark Forbes
Text by
Mark Forbes