The first road trip of our Ligurian vacation went up Valle Argentina to the mountain village of Montalto Ligure, situated like a fortress on a hill at the eastern edge of the valley with interesting, winding, medieval alleys. Join me for a photographic tour of Montalto.
Many of the villages in the Appenin coastal mountains suffer from population decline, as the medieval stone houses are not very comfortable and the young people move down to the coast to find work and build a new life. But in the past years, many foreigners have been buying and renovating the old houses and so quite a few of the villages are restored back to their former glory and are rewarding destinations for the coastal tourist.
It is impossible to navigate the narrow cobblestone alleys with anything else than a motorino (small Italian motorcycle) or the famous 3-wheeled Piaggio Ape transport vehicle.
Due to the temperatures in the upper 90’s (33 celsius) I only carried the OM-D E-M1X with the 12-100 F/4 Pro zoom, my preferred all-round camera-lens combo, leaving the rest of the gear in the car. Hindsight I should have also brought the 7-14mm, because 12mm was occasionally not wide enough for these narrow alleys.
We reached Montalto around 1pm in a blazing midday sun. Typically a bad time to go shooting because of the harsh light and mute colors. But as posted before, in a setting like a medieval village you can actually use this to your advantage, as the lights and shadows make for awesome black&white photography opportunities.
And in a village like Montalto there are plenty details waiting to be photographed, where the harsh noon light really does not matter.
The square in front of the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista is the principal little village square.
Strolling through the little alleyways provides ample opportunities to try different things with your camera, like playing with shallow depth of field to come to interesting compositions.
The Piaggio Ape is the only motorized transport vehicle that can navigate through the narrow, partially covered alleys of the old mountain village. And hey, capturing one in its “natural habitat” is one of the photographic clichés of Italy.
Looking for the small details, to capture the true essence of place, is the most fun part when exploring a place like Montalto.
Today we are enjoying our place, sitting on the little terrace above the sea. Occasional thundershowers mix with the blazing sun, and we are enjoying the downtime every vacation should have. Tomorrow we plan an all day bike tour on the tracks of the former coastal railroad now turned a bike road. Stay tuned for more explorations of beautiful Liguria.