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10-11-2015, 04:57 PM   #1
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Trip to Rome and Venice in January

Hello all,

I have a free week in January and I was thinking of making trips to Rome and Venice. Is it a good idea to go to these cities in January i.e. in winter time ? How cold can it get and which lenses should one take to truly capture the beauty of these cities ? How safe is night photography ?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Mnj

10-11-2015, 06:43 PM   #2
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My only recommendation is something wider than 18mm. The 12-24 was my go to travel lens.
10-11-2015, 09:18 PM   #3
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Yes, wide is king when traveling. I will probably eventually get a GR for travel, but until then I use the DA15 for 97-98% of shots, and take one other lens (either 31, 55, or 77) just in case.
10-11-2015, 09:31 PM   #4
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mnj11,
First recommendation: pick one OR the other. You will lose at least 1 day traveling to & fro Marco Polo Airport into Venice Island (assuming trains work & no strike). Rome airport is also on outskirts & takes travel time. Too much to see & do in a week or even 3. If Venice, check for possible high tides.
Second: travel light. Take a tablet or phone with gps & OFFLINE maps - easy to get lost in either place. Last trip to Croatia, Slovenia & Venice took K10, Tak 17 f4, kit 18 - 55 & DA 55 - 300 with extras in a LowePro Event Messenger 250. For 5 week trip, used Rick Steves Carry-On backpack + LowePro. Take good walking shoes/boots.
Third: Venice is safe at night. Rome is safe in most areas until dinners end (about 2000) with tourist areas (Trevi, Spanish Steps, St. Peters, etc) a bit later.
Most of my pix in urban areas & interiors have been 17 to 28 mm; the tele for details on ceilings, etc. We have visited both multiple times & plan to again. It can be cold & even snow in January but no crowds (& fewer places to stay, eat & visit).

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10-12-2015, 01:10 AM   #5
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As a regular visitor to Italy, here is my advice.

Whether to go in January
I think it's a great time to go. Both cities can be absolutely full of tourists in the warmer months of the year, so winter is nice time to go. It is likely to be overcast sometimes and may be raining or foggy, but when the sun comes out it's lovely. Rome and Venice can be photogenic in any season, and I personally find the stark light and shadow of the midday sun the most difficult to deal with.

Rome and Venice?
Once you accept that you're not going to see everything in the cities, I think it's possible to do both in a week. It would be much better to travel between the cities by train than fly. The high speed train La Frecce takes about 3 hours 30 minutes to do the trip and it's city centre to city centre. I just checked on the official train booking website Acquista il biglietto con le nostre offerte - Trenitalia and it looks like it costs about 50 euros. Another nice thing about the train is that you get to see the countryside while you travel, which is very nice between Florence and Rome.

Safety
There are pickpockets around the tourist sites and on some public transport, so you have to be conscious of that. Just avoid wearing luxury brand goods, carry a nondescript bag and put your camera away when you're not going to use it for a while, and especially on public transport.

Lenses
My ideal kit would be the DA 16-85 and a "DA 24 f2" for the night shots. But since that last one frustratingly doesn't exist, I would take the DA21 or the FA35 instead.
10-12-2015, 12:08 PM   #6
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Hi guys.
I'm Italian , went to Rome many times, live 200 km near Venice and went there frequently. this is my opinion:
  1. Old cities in Italy have always narrow places and streets, Rome and Venice don't except. Best way to reproduce what kind of feeling is beeing there is to go deep into places , take photo "from the inside" So keep in your bags a good wideangle, if you have 10-20 or similar take that as a primary choice. wide is good into narrow spaces awa in plazas and open field (i.e. like on the top of cupola di s. pietro ). Personally I fond the 17 end of my 17-70 too long , If I had 15 or wider I would have used it in some places.
  2. don't know your actual latitude, but here in december you'll find dark at 5 PM so keep with you a fast lens , in small places you'll find dark or deep shadows well before that time
  3. You can take amazing pictures alongside the river Tevere with medium tele so keep a zoom for that, better if fast.
  4. If you have a macro lens, take that for images involving close-ups of wood or stone surfaces of monuments and artistic mancrafted pieces in which you'll ask for the max sharpness.
  5. in the matter of criminals, well, they're everywhere and Italy doesn't except. Rome is FULL of Police, sometimes you'll never notice the presence. Due to European problems with migrants and refugees, be prepared to notice strange things and some non violent disorders in some places . AVOID the subway in the evening-night. Don't trust people presenting themselves as guides or so, in Italy there are strict regulations and everywhere you'll find small cabins called APT in Italian Azienda di Promozione Turistica , fast translated "touristic office"where you'll find, gratis, brochures and free informations and how-to find professional guides and some other local touristic information and regulation. Always check for prices before buying , in 2003 I paid 8 euro ( about 9 dollars) a brick of tea...
  6. keep your wallet and documents in an internal pocket not in the external pockets of jeans, jackets...
  7. Enjoy your trip and thanks to have choosen Italy
Best Regards.
Matteo

p.s. : take a monopod or, better a tripod if you can for interiors and low light photo.

Last edited by bm75; 10-12-2015 at 12:14 PM.
10-12-2015, 12:09 PM   #7
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At first I must say that I am not a "wideangle" guy.

I have just returned from Venice and you can find a gallery with some shots here: https://nhoe.smugmug.com/Venedig/i-z4HN7dH

For my kind of shooting the DA21 limited is wide enough. My most used lens turned out to be the Sigma 2.8/50-150!

I can't comment about Rome but I am sure Venice has a lot to offer in January! Temperatures should not be too bad (moderate frost and mild snow is possible of course). Venice is a small town, great for walking around to shoot (and the Vaporetto, the public transport "water busses" are very convenient).

As for safety: again, I don't know Rome, but Venice is ok. Yes, pickpockets in crowded tourist areas are possible (like everywere else in the world) but other than that safety is not really a concern. I would not hesitate to shoot during late evenin/night or at lonely places.

Enjoy your trip and make sure you post some shots!!
10-12-2015, 12:21 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by volley Quote
As for safety: again, I don't know Rome, but Venice is ok.
Surely. You're right.

10-12-2015, 02:56 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by zoneV Quote
mnj11,
First recommendation: pick one OR the other. You will lose at least 1 day traveling to & fro Marco Polo Airport into Venice Island (assuming trains work & no strike). Rome airport is also on outskirts & takes travel time. Too much to see & do in a
I just don't think this is correct at all. Airports are not that far out. To suggest that you will lose a day's travel time getting into the cities is ridiculous. My wife and I spent 3 days in Rome and 2 in Venice (among other cities in Europe) and had a great trip. Of course we didn't see everything, but we saw all the major sights and didn't feel rushed or slighted at all.

QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
As a regular visitor to Italy, here is my advice.
Rome and Venice?
Once you accept that you're not going to see everything in the cities, I think it's possible to do both in a week. It would be much better to travel between the cities by train than fly.
I totally agree. Trains are much better for in-continent city-hopping. You'll see the beautiful Italian countryside and when you arrive in Venice you can take a water-taxi to the city proper. It's part of the experience and kinda fun! Be prepared for a possibly long walk to your hotel in Venice and a map would definitely help. You may want to find out from your hotel if the taxis can come right to the door (i.e. it's on a navigable canal). The taxi driver will want to drop you off at St. Marks Square either way, so you may have to be firm with them.
10-12-2015, 04:12 PM   #10
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Thank you everyone for the great tips and wonderful pictures !

Reading all the comments, I think I am going to buy the Sigma 10-20mm, I had been contemplating this purchase for a while now and seems like now is the right time. Apart from that, I think I will carry the Sigma 17-50mm which is pretty sharp and handy for normal photography and may be one prime, perhaps the Rokinon 85mm. I have a Sirui travel tripod, which is pretty light. These should all fit in my camera bag.

As for picking one city or the other, in my mind, I want to spend more time in one city and get to see more and then move to the other city to just do a quick trip (may be a guided tour). I can't yet decide which city I should spend more time in considering the weather factor.

Anyone has any idea if there are walking tours or anything similar in any of these cities ? Normally in most cities in Europe, one can find free walking tours which I find very useful as I get to scout possible photogenic scenes.
10-12-2015, 05:32 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mnj11 Quote
Thank you everyone for the great tips and wonderful pictures !

Reading all the comments, I think I am going to buy the Sigma 10-20mm, I had been contemplating this purchase for a while now and seems like now is the right time. Apart from that, I think I will carry the Sigma 17-50mm which is pretty sharp and handy for normal photography and may be one prime, perhaps the Rokinon 85mm. I have a Sirui travel tripod, which is pretty light. These should all fit in my camera bag.

As for picking one city or the other, in my mind, I want to spend more time in one city and get to see more and then move to the other city to just do a quick trip (may be a guided tour). I can't yet decide which city I should spend more time in considering the weather factor.

Anyone has any idea if there are walking tours or anything similar in any of these cities ? Normally in most cities in Europe, one can find free walking tours which I find very useful as I get to scout possible photogenic scenes.
I think those lens choices sound fine. You may not use the 85 much, but it might be nice to have for some "artsy" shots.

There's definitely more to see and do in Rome. I honestly felt like 2 days was plenty in Venice, at least if you're just planning on visiting the main island.

Can't help you with any guided tours. Have never liked those. We much prefer to research beforehand then explore on our own.
10-13-2015, 10:32 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mnj11 Quote
Hello all,

I have a free week in January and I was thinking of making trips to Rome and Venice. Is it a good idea to go to these cities in January i.e. in winter time ? How cold can it get and which lenses should one take to truly capture the beauty of these cities ? How safe is night photography ?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Mnj
I'll make one suggestion...a wide angle zoom. I left mine (Sigma 10-20) at home in error ( I grabbed the wrong lens by mistake as I hurried to get packed) and would have liked to have it with me.

We visited Rome about five years ago (before I got back into photography) and visited Venice last year ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/cp140/albums/72157644388279047 ). Just walking the streets of either city is an adventure. We spent a week in an apartment in each city... much better than the "Hilton tour." There's nothing quite like buying groceries in a foreign language! In Venice we had an apartment just off the Grand Canal.

The water bus (Vaporetto) is a great way to get around and can offer you views of Venice from the water... the way it was meant to be seen. Don't forget to check out some of the islands (Murano, Burano, Torcello).

I'm not real big on organized tours. I prefer to grab a good guide book and make my own way. If however, you want a personalized tour of Venice, then check out Martino ( Venice private guide martino rizzi walking tours in Venice ). My wife and I (we share a common interest... not photography) met up with him and he gave us a marvelous "off the beaten track" tour of Venice. Send me a PM if you would like more info.

As for safety... we never felt unsafe in either city. Keep your head up and your wits about you. Trust your instincts. If a situation feels a bit uncomfortable then it is time to stow the camera inside your jacket turn around and walk away.

You'll have a great time!
10-15-2015, 09:59 AM   #13
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Thank you again for the suggestions. I am looking for a Sigma 10-20mm now. I have also decided that I will go to only one city and that is Rome. I plan to make a separate trip to Venice later next year. After reading all the comments here and also talking with some folks, it seemed like the right thing to do
10-21-2015, 10:02 AM   #14
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First and foremost, Rome is EXHAUSTING to photograph. And so is Venice. (unless you are solo or with like minded photographers).
If you are with your loved ones, dont plan to ruin their holiday.

I have been to Rome many times - and I can claim to have seen less that half the city has to offer, probably less. Rome can easily consume a whole month if not more. If you are in a hurry, dont leave out the Vatican - you will see a good deal of Europe there; and it takes more than a day, but 1 day will do fine if you buy the entry ticket online, and save on the queue. Photography is allowed inside (as far as I remember, except the Sistine Chapel, where you may use your iPhone)
January is good month - a bit cold but not so many tourists. Rain, overcast sky but sudden bursts of bright sunshine can be expected.
Expect to WALK a lot. Comfortable footwear counts as much as the lens. And eat at student cafes - you will save enough to buyback the DA21 on the trip. Make an exception for the coffee though - Rome is the place to indulge in the latte. Look for places where the locals swear by their coffee (crowded, big antique machines, sometimes swanky places too.)
Same for Venice. This year there is the Venice Bienneale, just in case if you are interested in art. There are some magnificent installations. Venice is full of galleries, both public and private, but since you are doing Rome, I will leave the Venice part.
Better than spending money on hotels, you might stay with real people via Airbnb - the added advantage is getting to know some less known but nonetheless beautiful neighbourhoods of Rome - it has plenty.
BTW 85mm will be overkill.
10-23-2015, 11:40 AM   #15
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Thank you @debakarma, I am actually going to do either Airbnb or Couchsurfing. I prefer that to staying in hotels because I get to meet locals. And I am going there by my own, so I don't have to worry about ruining anyone else's vacation I have a week in Rome. So I think I will see a bit of the city. Just keeping my fingers crossed that the weather is not bad all the time.
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