Italy is home to an abundance of all sorts of pleasure – be it with culture, history, cuisine, imagery, or art. But the everlasting pleasures the country houses are the sights and happenings to behold. It is a dream for every photographer to capture the abundance of life and activity in all corners in Italy, and Lomographer Laurent Demilly, a.k.a. roundmidnight is one of those who sought such scenery. He translates to us the concept of the sweet and pleasurable life found in the concept of la dolce vita with his 35 mm cameras and color negative films in a majestic road trip from Portofino to Firenze.
Based in the south of France for the summer holidays, I took the opportunity to go down a few days in Italy.
In 5 days, I made a big tour from Rappalo/Portofino to Firenze (via Lucca) before returning to Genova... This stay was often placed under the sign of the sea. The route of the circuit gave him a large place. The line crossed two regions: Liguria and Tuscany. Several stays in Roma had left me the image of an Italy more attached to the earth… Liguria, at least the one I saw, is maritime (like its excellent cuisine); it is attached to the mountain and bathed by the bright blue of the Mediterranean Sea. That’s what I remember the most in this discovery of the region. These colorful facades, in shades of yellow and red, are often reflected in the sea.
The part of Tuscany that I crossed is softer, more serene, with harmonious landscapes where the green dominates. The fields of olive trees trace rectangles of a sublime greyed green where the warm colors of the tiles and walls produce a slight contrast. The eternal pearl of this region is Firenze (Florence), the cradle of the Renaissance, the Italian city of art and history.
The link between these two regions is the "Dolce-vita", which is not a myth. This sweetness of life, Italian style, which immediately attracts the northern man that I am. I let myself be dragged by the artistic heritage of this region, but also let myself be enchanted by all these signs of "Italianity" that make me dream so much. Vespas, Fiat 500s with sun-annealed paints and old Alfa Romeos, the golden reflection of bitter oranges in cocktails, and vaporous ice creams... And I found always some images of Italian cinema from the 1960s / 1970s too...
I take a lot of cameras on these little trips. I’m a camera collector first and foremost. I always have a Toy camera with me, to take Lo-fi images, associated with an SLR camera. Here, it was a Holga 135 BC that played this role, associated with a Minolta X-500 SLR. But it was the X-500 that did most of the work. The images taken during this stay, the ones I like the most, were made with an Agfa Precisa CT film (outdated but kept in the cold), which captured the shades of green and red while giving a «vintage» appearance to the images. A Lubitel 2 loaded with LomoChrome Turquoise XR 100-400 (120) was also lying at the bottom of my bag.
I have since returned to Italy. I found again Tuscany and Liguria, in other places, less touristy without doubt, and more authentic too. But, still, I found the dolce vita and the pleasure of losing myself. In Italy, it is necessary to abandon the «traced paths», to release the guides, to follow the streets, to get lost and thus to discover, there, wonderful places. «Everything is beautiful in Italy», this well-known maxim is totally true. It is always by walking aimlessly, instinctively, that I came across places that seduced me and gave, in my opinion, the best pictures of these road trips.
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