The Italy Road Trip

The Italy Road Trip was planned for quite some time. The dilemma was how do you see all of what Italy has to offer in 2 weeks? Well the answer is you don’t. It’s just not possible in just 2 weeks. So what do you see. And where do you start? Well right here.

The Italy Road Trip – Getting There

Choose your airline (it’s Air Canada for me from Canada). In order to hit the ground running (with a 6 hour time difference), I need to fly Business Class (sometimes) or Premium Economy (this time). The extra room and increased comfort make the long flight enjoyable. I absolutely have to sleep so I bring along my new travel friend, my Palmate Travel Pillow, to get to sleep and stay asleep. I want to be ready to go and awake on Day 1!

The Italy Road Trip – Venice

Arriving in Venice, we leave the airport in a water taxi and begin the short journey into the historic canals of Venice. After checking into our hotel, we grab an espresso and head out to explore the streets of Venice. Tourists are absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed. Walking along main walking routes and over bridges, we manage to find side routes and squares where the locals are. Small neighbourhoods with cafes, restaurants, shops and Venetian homes are a lot more interesting than the main streets. On Day 2, we jump on the public water taxi (Venice transit) to get around easily and give into the main tourist areas. There’s a lot to see in Venice including Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doges’ Palace. But take the time to get off the main paths and explore!

Italy Road Trip - Venice

The Italy Road Trip – Prosecco

We leave Venice in a rental car and head up to the Prosecco Region (the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso). It’s mid-September and we manage to hit full grape harvest. The area is alive with extra workers and tractors with grape packed trailers. There are many wineries to visit- look for Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Most will have a fee based tasting (5-10 Euro per person) and will provide a generous sample of their product (3-5 wine samples). If you choose to buy a bottle or 2, the wine fee will be reduced or waived (depending on your purchase amount). Among the best wineries to visit: San Gregorio (family owned- you’ll meet father, mother and sisters);  Col Vetoraz (with a wine vending machine on the small road to the winery); and Villa Sandi (great wine and restaurant).

Italy Road Trip - Prosecco Region

The Italy Road Trip – Tuscany

There are so many reasons to include Tuscany in your Italian Road Trip. The wine; the food; the scenery and the people. Among the many wines, the Classico Chianti (with the black rooster on the bottle neck) stands out. The Classico label is only available to Chiantis produced from grapes in the the Chianti Classico subregion covers an area of approximate 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The other more well known wine in the area is the “Super Tuscan”. The American name for a deep red wine blended from Syrah,Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It’s priced to take advantage of the aura in the marketplace. Among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines) is Villa San Andrea. The small winery is right next door to Antinori. They provide an intimate tour and wine tasting for 10 Euro. Their Super Tuscan is far cheaper than the winery next door. They also have 7 other high quality and affordable wines.

Italy Road Trip - Villa San Andrea, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Tuscany

Among the many towns/places to visit are – Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and of course Florence. You really can’t go wrong wherever you go, but San Gimignano stands near the top. It’s an amazing, well preserved medieval village with several small hotels, shops, museums, and Tuscan restaurants. My favourite restaurants “Le Vecchie Mura“. It has both an inside restaurant and an outside terrace area across the lane. Authentic dishes feature pasta, steak, rabbit, deer, wild boar and of course local wine. Eating a Tuscan dinner overlooking Tuscany is hard to beat.

Italy Road Trip - San Gimignano, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Pasta with Truffles

The Italy Road Trip – Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is all about the views. And getting to the coast just adds to the anticipation. Heading south, we drive along the highway through Naples, then onto the winding roads of  Sorrento and its mountain tunnel. Positano is our destination and our base for 3 days on the Amalfi Coast. Positano has some incredible views. It also has great hotels (Le Sirenuse, Villa Rosa); some great restaurants down on the beach (Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle – both highly rated and right beside each other) and lots of small boutiques for shopping. From Positano, you can easily make day trips to Amalfi, Ravello, Scala and others.

Italy Road Trip - Positano

Italy Road Trip - Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

We drive to Rome Airport and overnight at a Rome Airport hotel before leaving the next day. Except for the return flight, the trip is over. The Italy Road Trip was among my top trips ever. And that’s saying a lot given the amount of travelling that I have done over the years. Each area/stop well worth the visit to immerse yourself in the history, culture, food and wine of Italy. The biggest issue is when is the next Italy Road Trip?

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10 Things To Know When Traveling In Italy

Traveling to another country is always exciting! Not only do you get to taste the region’s food, have fun at their festivals and meet the local people, but you also get to learn more about the culture. Cultures across Europe can differ greatly, particularly from the culture in the United States. Every country speaks its own language and fosters its own traditions that date back centuries. This is especially true of the beautiful ancient country of Italy.

One of the most impressive cultural centers of Europe, Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance and some of the world’s most loved food. Millions of people visit the country every year, exploring its wonderful cities, towns, and villages. So to prepare you, here’s ten things you should know before you go:

1. BE PREPARED TO SPEND TIME TALKING ABOUT AND EATING FOOD

Be prepared to spend time talking about and eating foodFood is in the make up of Italians. Not only do they love to cook and eat it, more than most people, they also love to talk about it. In Italy, it is certainly more about the quality of the food than it is about the quantity; they value flavor and home-cooked traditions. In Italy they make time to cook a meal and there is no excuse for not spending time enjoying it. Meals, even in the middle of the day, can last hours and include neighbors and friends for a truly special experience. Enjoy this magical foodie culture by eating with locals or in local restaurants.

2. GET READY TO EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS

Visitors who can’t speak the language often think that Italians argue all the time. They always appear to be so expressive and loud. However, their gestures and actions are often not what you think. Most Italians love to talk about their emotions, and so the conversation is most likely a way of resolving an issue – talking it out – rather than arguing about it. Very therapeutic!

3. FOOD IS FRESH AND USUALLY LOCAL

Food is fresh and usually localMost large grocers and almost all of the local stores you will come across in Italy will sell mostly fresh, local produce. Not only will it be organic and high-quality, but it will also be affordable. While you can find some processed food, it is not common in the Italian diet in the way that it is in the US. Expect to find fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season alongside local butchers and bakeries.

4. EXPECT TO HEAR THE TRUTH

Italians prefer not to hide their feelings. In the same way that they prefer to talk about a problem they also prefer to express how they feel about people, good or bad, to their face. This is a great thing on some levels as it means they rarely talk about people behind their back, but it can also mean hearing the truth (even when you don’t want to). Most often visitors will hear that they should be eating more, especially the slim visitors!

5. DON’T RUSH

Don't rushItalians rarely rush. They live a slow, relaxed lifestyle that really does make them happier. There is no rushing to get to work or rushing to serve people when they are at work. Expect to wait longer, but expect the people you meet to be extremely happy! What would you rather?

6. YOU CAN SPOT THEIR IMPECCABLE DRESS SENSE

Italy has always exported some of the world’s greatest fashions – with a clear edge over the rest of the world. As you explore the country’s stunning cities and even smaller towns you will notice that style is a very important part of life. Most Italians will always make an impressive effort to look great. If you want a piece of the action head to the shopping capitals of Milan and Rome, where you can find all of Italy’s most famous designers on offer.

7. YOU WILL OFTEN SEE ROMANCE BLOOMING

You will often see romance bloomingNot only is Italy a romantic country for visitors, with its ancient buildings, cobbled streets and exceptional food, Italy is also inherently romantic. Most Italians value courting and spend time and effort wining and dining “the one” for months. For ancient romance visit Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s timeless play Romeo and Juliet.

8. YOU MAY FEEL A LITTLE CLAUSTROPHOBIC

Italians are very affectionate and do not worry as much as Americans about personal space. Not only this, but their cities are more compact, with winding alleys and petite plazas that are the places of parties and restaurants. Expect to touch a few people a day and don’t expect to hear a “sorry”; it’s not worth it as it happens all the time. Don’t even worry about it!

9. YOU CAN’T LEAVE WITHOUT AN APERITIVO

You can't leave without an aperitivoNo other country in Europe truly celebrates the aperitivo (the afternoon drink and snack) like Italy does. Try to get into a place at around 6pm to take full advantage of the evening buffet and be ready for a late night dinner, Italian style.

10. FORGET ABOUT ICE

It may be common to include ice in almost every drink in the US, but this is simply not the Italian way. Ice isn’t always served in cold drinks, and if you do want some you will probably only get one or two cubes, not a whole glassful… It’s just the way it is! Think of the positives, you are certainly getting more of the drink you ordered – the Italian way!

ENJOYING ITALIAN CULTURE AND TRADITIONS

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Use our helpful list of 10 Things to Know When Traveling in Italy to get a better understanding of what to expect during your next vacation. Blend in, and get local insider info about the best off-the-beaten path attractions, restaurants, and hidden gems, when you show respect and understanding to Italian customs and traditions.

(This post provided by Auto Europe)

6 Steps to Create High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

When running a restaurant, one of the essential aspects of promoting and marketing the business involves choosing what photographs to use. A high-impact image can engage the senses, making the viewer see, smell, feel and even taste the food without having been able to try it yet.

A professional food photographer can accomplish these, and more. Hiring the top experts in food styling and photography is key to generating appetizing images for your restaurant website and other marketing materials.

It takes years of experience to produce quality food images. To help you understand how the experts pull it off, here are a few steps detailing how they create tantalizing restaurant food photography.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

1. Gather the equipment

The tools used vary depending on the project. More often than not, you may find food stylists and photographers armed with more than just cameras and the dishes themselves.

When it comes to food photography, the aim is to make the dish as irresistible as possible. This often involves using techniques that focus on making the dish look good and deliciously tempting even when the food prop has been sitting out for an hour because of the shoot.

For instance, stylists may brush oil over the ingredients to make them glisten. Scoops of ice cream are replaced by mashed potatoes or shortening as they don’t melt under the light. As such, you may notice food stylists armed with brushes, toothpicks and other tools designed to make the dish look fuller and fresh.

2. Use natural light

Natural light has a way of making dishes look fresh and appetizing. As such, photographers will often schedule the shoot during the day. Plates, silver and other dining elements are shot outdoors or near a window to make the most of the natural light available.

At times, photographers will use flash and reflectors. When bounced off a wall or the ceiling, the light from the flash will provide additional light and soften any harsh shadows.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

3. Use props

Although the dish should be the focus of any image, at times, stylists and food photographers will add additional relevant elements to put the dish into context.

For instance, an image of a slice of cheesecake may include a fork and may be accompanied with a cup of tea or coffee and some small condiments. Peppercorns and herbs may be sprinkled all over a chopping board that features a large slab of grilled meat.

It is important to strike a balance between context and clutter. A few extra elements may help but there is no need to fill the photo with food or other objects.

Stylists and photographers also need to be aware of the colors and textures of the elements and props being included in the image. Contrasting colors and textures can help make ingredients pop out more.

Props need to be carefully inspected before being used in the image because the slightest imperfection will be magnified in the photo. Plates and utensils need to be spotlessly clean while the ingredients should look fresh and devoid of any blemishes.

4. Shoot from different angles

Perspective can change how the viewer may feel about the dish. Professional photographers will often try to take as many shots from different angles as they can for a single shoot.

A shot taken from directly above the dish can be used to include ingredients and other relevant elements. This type of shot illustrates what goes into the dish.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

On the other hand, a shot taken from the side can show how the dish would look when served. For instance, a shot of a slice of cake taken from an angle can show the different layers inside.

5. Shoot quickly

Stylists and photographers need to plan, experiment and practice the shots days before the actual day of the shoot. Unlike studio lighting, natural light changes depending on the time of the day and weather.

The look of ingredients and even entire dishes can also change in just a few hours, minutes or even seconds. Vegetables are an example. To make them look fresher, they are often undercooked.

When it comes to salads, the dressing can be put in a small bowl on the side. This is to prevent the dressing from covering the ingredients or making them look limp.

By practicing and experimenting with different angles outside the shoot, the team can also determine what they need to bring and how to set up the shot quickly. This is especially important in cases where several dishes need to be styled and photographed in one session.

If you’re taking a specialty burger photo, taking an angle shot from the side would be preferable to one taken from above as the side shot would highlight the burger patty itself while a shot from the top would have to accommodate other elements such as the sides, utensils, etc., else, you’ll be left only with the image of the top (sesame seed) bun.

 

6. Add steam

With the exception of desserts and other dishes served cold, steam is a popular element that can be added to an image. Steam emanating from the food gives it the impression that it just came off the stove, oven or grill.

Natural steam is difficult to produce. Most foods do not produce enough steam to be captured by the camera. Plus, food can get cold quickly, reducing the amount of time when the photographer can take the shot.

Food photographers and stylists need to be creative with steam, with some resorting to using garment steamers and microwaved sponges or cotton balls, or devising even more inventive ways to create it for their shoots.

Experienced stylists and photographers have several other techniques that they use to produce stunning food images. With this guide, you have a basic idea of the amount of work and effort it takes to create stunning and delectable food photographs.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Barry Morgan is the creative force behind Barry Morgan Photography. His passions are photography, food and family, although not always in that order. He believes you should love what you do, to do exceptional work. Cooking was always a family affair in his home so naturally, once his passion for photography took root, he was drawn to food photography. Barry Morgan Photography now works with hundreds of clients, turning their tasty dishes into mouthwatering visuals.