What feels like an age ago now, back in early March, Clare & I headed to Bergamo in Northern Italy for a long weekend break.

For such a long time now, my mum’s harped on about us going to this picturesque medieval, walled Italian town, perched on the lombardi plains above its newer (less interesting) counterpart.  We finally found time in the quieter ‘off-season’ to take a 4-day city break with some good pals who drove down from where they live in the North-Eastern Alsatian area of France.  All being super foodie and into our photography, we had a blast exploring the warm & sunny walled streets, sampling ice cream and fresh pizza in the squares by day, and michelin starred gastronomy and local by night.

From the 6th century Bergamo was the seat of one of the most important Lombard duchies of northern Italy, and through medieval times and the Renaissance era it was tweaked and refined under Venetian rule to become a seriously beautiful city.  We learned on an impromptu city tour that the city fell into disrepair and almost ruin in the early 21st century, until it’s recent revival and new found interest from the locals that live in the new town down the hill.  But a blessing and a curse of the place is that it’s still an undiscovered gem; busy at weekends with locals, but still relatively untouched by tourism.  Most tourists use the Bergamo-Milan airport as a cheap flight option to connect straight to Milan, completely missing the joys of this place.

As with on our previous off-season adventure to Paris (in February – blog here) I limited myself to only Canon’s 45mm TS-E f2.8 lens (for arty tilt-shift fun) & the 24-105mm f4 lens (for all round wide>tele coverage), though my buddy Rich also lumped around a sack of his own (significantly less beat up than my) L-series lenses, and it was ace to have on hand a 70-200mm f2.8 IS & 16-35mm f2.8 lenses for some super-wide and long shots.

Anyhoos – less chat, and more pics – which will hopefully inspire you to visit this stunning town…

Beautiful eh!?

There was something brilliant about the locals in Bergamo, who almost enjoyed having their photographs taken.  Perhaps it’s an Italian pride thing.

I’ve dressed to impress, so go for it!


Either way, I refreshingly got very little cowering away/ducking/suspicion usually encountered when trying my hand at capturing locals doing their thing.

The local polenta cake – which isn’t actually made of polenta (unlike most Bergamesco cuisine!).  In fact it’s a marzipan sugared cake, dressed to look like a traditional pudding made of polenta, which encased a freshly hatched young bird, soft enough to eat whole (hence the little chocolate beaks poking out the top!).

Apparently up in the mountains you can still source this delicacy…

…let’s just say we stuck with the marzipan option!

It’s not an authentic Italian photo collection without images of Vespas.

[ Sadly all the ancient Fiat 500 bubble cars have been replaced by the ubiquitous Fiat 500 ]

I like this one of a blurry cyclist tearing through the vast defensive city walls.  Its easy to see how it stood against siege & occupation for so long.

This is a view from the bell-tower of the old town looking up towards the Upper Town.  Both the lower town and upper town are connected by Funicolare

Not a bad place to take in the view over a morning espresso…

This place really was a photographers paradise (or a photography widow’s hell, as no doubt Clare & Anne-Sophie felt!)

“Bernabo” – my newfound Italian name for the weekend!

They certainly know how to do Cathedrals in Italy…

If only we got light like this to photograph weddings in on UK soil!

No McDonald’s round here…

From the Rocca (‘Castle’) you can look out over Bergamo’s relatively uninspired new town all the way to the foothills of the Alps.

The 45mm tilt-shift lens rules

I really enjoyed capturing the locals doing their day to days on the streets

The irony of this I ♥ BG t-shirt was that Clare works at a wine company with the initials BG.

Before heading away I saw a quick youTube tutorial by an inspiring Mexican wedding photographer Fer Juarista where he used his iPhone as a reflective surface in front of the lens, to creatively mess with the image.  As I’ve no real memory left to speak of, I set an iPhone reminder and it popped up as we ate pizza in the square, so I had a little play.

It’s hit an miss, but fun to play with as an in-camera effect.  This next one was one I quite liked:

Rich & I really wanted to head back up to the top hill of Citta Alta at dusk for a few sunset shots over the Bergamo hills

I love how I the tilt-shift can be used to isolate the old town in this evening landscape

The duskiness just got better and better was we watched night close in

Then late on the last night, Rich & I decided to go and have some fun with a little LED light cluster a pal had made for me for light painting, which essentially involved doing a long exposure and spinning around in a circle.  This was my fave image from the session:

So all in all a brilliant and memorable holiday with good friends, good food and a fabulous backdrop to wander around!

Hope you enjoyed the highlights!


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