Postcards from Italy
THE BLOG OF CIU TRAVEL

Where to Find the Most Photogenic Views in Italy

As much as we lament the modern obsession with sharing every moment of vacation on social media and the growing importance of a destination's “Instagrammability”, the truth is that travel has been image-driven for centuries. From the time of the Grand Tour—perhaps the first moment in Western history when a voyage was considered a pastime undertaken for pleasure rather than a hardship fraught with risk—travelers have been tucking sketchpads and watercolors in their trunks to capture informal “snapshots” of Roman ruins, Renaissance palazzi, and, of course, pastoral views.

Florence twilight.(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The explosion of leisure travel in the mid-20th century coincided with the advent of the compact camera, and generations of Americans were forced to sit through album page after album page of rather blurry black-and-white—and, later, color—photos (or, worse, slides) of the world's most famous monuments. This was followed by digital photography, giving travelers the ability to curate their hundreds of shots and only print the best. Finally, we have arrived at smartphones, letting us not only curate, but also filter, edit, and instantly share our dreamy images.

rome-panorama-cr-ciutravel(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

All this to say that today's avid Instagrammers and their quest for the perfect shot are part of historic and close rapport between travel and image-making, just the latest phase of a long evolution. So, snap away! Whether you have an old-school reflex or the latest iPhone, here are some prime locations to capture the most iconic views in Italy for yourself and, of course, your loyal “followers”!

Rome


cocktail sunset roma(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The Classic: The Dome of St. Peter's Basilica
The best view in Rome takes a bit of hard work, but your effort is rewarded with sweeping views over St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, and across the Tiber to the historic center. You can puff your way up all 312 steps, or take an elevator part of the way and climb just the final stretch.

The Plan B: Janiculum Hill
If you'd like views that are even more expansive, head to the top of the Gianicolo above the trendy Trastevere neighborhood. Views from the second highest hill in the city are particularly beautiful at sunset when a golden light washes over the city's domes and Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.

Our Favorite: Rooftop Bar
Who doesn't love an aperitivo with a view? Rome has a number of spectacular rooftop bars that offer romantic views over the Eternal city by day or night. A few favorites are Hotel Raphael just off Piazza Navona, with views over a number of city domes and the curved roof of the Pantheon; Hotel Eden off the iconic Via Veneto, lovely for a morning cappuccino or evening cocktail; and Eitch Borromini, considered Rome's best rooftop bar above a wing of Palazzo Pamphilj overlooking Piazza Navona.

Florence


Florence(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The Classic: Brunelleschi's Dome
Honestly, a climb to the top of perhaps the most magnificent dome in Italy is a must when in Florence. Like in Rome, you have to conquer hundreds of steps to earn this view, but what a view. Florence is laid out before you like a toy city, and you can see clear across the city to the surrounding hills.

The Plan B: Piazzale Michelangelo
Slightly outside the city center above the Oltrarno neighborhood, this terrace square is one of the most popular scenic overlooks in the city. With its stellar views (especially at sunset), romantic atmosphere above the twinkling lights of Florence by night, and bustle of buskers and cocktail bars lining the square, this is a great location for photos and a cocktail.

Our Favorite: Wow Moment
Last year, we were able to organize a special Wow Moment for clients, arranging dinner on the Terrazzo dei Limoni at La Leggenda dei Frati, a Michelin-starred restaurant located in the Bardini Gardens overlooking the historic center. They were visiting during the city's Feast of San Giovanni celebrations, so had incredible views of the traditional firework show...but the terraces offer stunning views (and dishes) all year.

Venice


Gondolas - Venice(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The Classic: St. Mark's Belltower
The campanile towering over Piazza San Marco is the most famous (and highest) viewpoint over the city. From its height of over 300 feet, you are treated to an endless view over Venice's canals and calli, and can see across the Grand Canal to the nearest islands in the lagoon, including San Giorgio Maggiore and Giudecca.

The Plan B: Fondaco dei Tedeschi


This customs house-cum-luxury shopping center opened its rooftop in 2016, making it the newest vantage point overlooking Venice. Set almost directly over Canal Grande, you can take snapshots of the canal from 2 different angles, as well as enjoy sweeping views over the entire center of Venice and as far as the Murano lighthouse of Murano.

Our Favorite: From a Gondola
These sleek black boats have been gliding elegantly through Venice's canals for almost 1,000 years, and are a fundamental part of the city's culture and history (http://www.ciuitaly.com/blog/files/all-about-gondolas-venice.php). You can get an entirely different view of the beauty of Venice from the water as you pass under tiny bridges, through narrow canals, and past picturesquely crumbling palaces.

Amalfi Coast


amalfi-coast-boat-tour-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The Classic: Ravello
The most famous view over Italy's most famous stretch of coast is from the Terrazzo dell'lnfinito (Terrace of Infinity) at Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, perched high above the coastline on the clifftop. Since it's not directly on the water's edge, Ravello can be a bit less crowded than the rest of the Amalfi Coast, but regardless you will rarely have this view to yourself.

The Plan B: Path of the Gods
The locals don't oversell with the name of this spectacular hiking trail that runs between Agerola and Positano, one of the most picturesque on the whole of the Amalfi Coast. Though the path has become more popular recently, there aren't nearly the crush of people as the rest of the coast, so you can snap your photos in peace.

Our Favorite: Boat Tour
There is no better way to see the Amalfi Coast than by sea, with its dramatic coastline dotted with hidden sea grottoes and tiny coves, colorful villages, and historic villas, monasteries, forts, and watchtowers on the clifftops. While cruising, you can drop anchor to swim, so be sure to pack a waterproof case for your phone or camera to snap directly from the water.

Related posts:
Our Secret Florence
Boating Along the Amalfi Coast
Guilt-Free Tourist Fun in Italy

Contributor: Rebecca Winke

CIU Travel
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