In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the

Inverno Veneziano

wintry wanderings from dawn to dusk in the chilly, foggy, drafty and almost deserted canals, calli, campi, bridges and isles of the Serenissima.

Boy with frog  – Punta della Dogana

In the cold and foggy days of November, December, January and February, Venice shows what is probably its most genuine face.

To visitors, winter offers one huge advantage over other seasons: the city is nearly deserted. With most of the noisy, gaudy trappings of the tourist industry packed away, with the crowds of trippers reduced to perhaps a handful of true Venice’s lovers, the beauties of the Serenissima are more readily appreciated.

No noise, no waiting, lower prices, slower paces. And the sense of the city’s past greatness is even more captivating in the calm and silence of these days.

More over, you can even meet true Venetians in winter, a sort of people you would tell as extinguished in every other period of the year, when they probably feel just like sailors, shipwrecked in a boundless ocean of tourists.

And having a chance to see how Venice’s people actually live is nothing but a blessing, if your aim as a visitor is to live the town from its very inside rather than to merely scratch its ready-made-for-tourist gleaming surface.

This is indeed the only time of the year when those fifty-six-thousand heroes who still live in the historical centre of the Serenissima can reclaim the ownership of their city, when kids can play again hide-and-seek or football in the campi and calles, when you can even find a seat on the vaporetto, when 30 euros, if not less,  is your dinner bill for two fish courses at a bacaro, and you don’t even need to book your table in advance; and last, but absolutely not least, it’s also when half a day is well likely all the time you need for thoroughly visit and enjoy the masterpieces at Basilica of San Marco, Museo Correr and Accademia.

“Boy with frog”   in a very foggy early morning at Punta della Dogana The San Marco Basin
in the fog, as seen from the Giudecca

The cathedral of San
Giorgio Maggiore in a very foggy day
A long exposure take
of the Grand Canal in another very foggy day

For photographers, there are even a few more advantages.

In winter, a thick fog often envelopes the city and the lagoon like a huge blanket, dumping the calles and canals in a veil of mystery and charming mood, while in the very occasional clear mornings everything shines in a sort of otherworldly Impressionist glow: soft, diffused, dreamy. In winter days the sun seems never to rise, it rather stays hanging low in the sky, barely reaching the edge of the roofs, and the shadows are as long as church aisles. The mist raises from the lagoon and spreads in some way the light in the sky, as if the sunrays were shining through a window of polished glass.

Sunrises last for ages, and so do sunsets. It is breathtaking just staring at this glorious representation, watching  the sun while it slowly emerges from or dives into the pale, jade green waters of the lagoon, peeping every once in a while through layers of bold rainy clouds at the horizon and casting its faint rays on the facades of palaces and churches.

Dawn from the Zattere, the waterfront sidewalk on the Giudecca Canal Gondolas at Riva degli Schiavoni

Navigation marks in the lagoon Beautiful stripes of
clouds over the lagoon at sunrise


And then, totally unexpected, the sky breaks for a moment, and the lagoon is suddenly flooded with a magnificent warm light.

Photographically speaking, these are the best conditions you can hope for, if you are looking for those moody and mysterious atmospheres you have always dreamed of, when thinking of Venice.

I am primarily a nature photographer, so when I am taking photographs in the wilderness I am used to wait a very long time for that special moment when unusual light or harsh weather contribute unique drama and mood.
When I am doing cityscapes, I take advantage of this kind of experience I collected in the field, and I must say that it is as much exciting.

The Venice skyline
from the top of the Campanile of San Giorgio Maggiore
The Venice skyline
with the snow-covered Alps in the background

The patchwork of
crazy colours in the houses of Burano
Maria Callas bridge, leading to the backdoor of the theatre La Fenice

There are only eight hours of daylight in winter in Venice, but every minute carries within itself infinite opportunities for a trained eye. Whether you go for grand vistas from the waterfront sidewalks at Riva degli Schiavoni, Zattere and Fondamenta Nove; or you focus on the facades of the historical Palazzi on the Grand Canal; or you choose to create amazing abstract composition with the colorful reflections in the water, the hazy atmosphere and the diffused glowing light will always add that special dreamy look to your pictures, something that is very difficult to achieve, if not impossible, in any other season.

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs, A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O’er the far times, when many a subject land Looked to the wingéd Lion’s marble piles,

Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean, Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion, A ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was–her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless
East Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers:
In purple was she robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more, And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,

And music meets not always now the ear:

Those days are gone–but Beauty still is here; States fall, arts fade–but Nature doth not die,

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

Rio (canal) dei Greci
with the Orthodox church

excerpt from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by George
Gordon Byron, 1818


Venice in Winter Landscape Photography

 A photo gallery of scenic landscape photographs of the Serenissima in winter dresses.

Venice in winter
Private and small groups
Landscape Photography Workshops

 Join me on a ‘one-on-one’ or small group photography workshop. Learn new skills, experiment with advanced techniques, develop your vision, all while enjoying  in good  company an enthralling outdoor photo adventure in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

Private tuition is a great way to kick-start your landscape photography hobby, fine tune your skills or analyze in depth a particular topic or technique.

Click to preview In Venice as a Venetian photo book
 Coffee table book

In Venice as a Venetian

Winter impressions of the Serenissima

© Paolo De Faveri 2013 

  • 10x8 inches (25x20 cm) large format landscape book

  • available in three version: soft cover,  hardcover with colour jacket and hard cover with image wrap

  • 130 pages

  • 88 large format high quality prints,among which 24 in a breath-taking two-pages spread wide panoramic format

  • field notes for each image included

now available on amazon

All images and text copyright 2004-2014 Paolo De Faveri. All rights reserved. 

14 thoughts on “In Venice as a Venetian

  1. Your photos are breathtakingly beautiful. Superbly composed. They are the best photos of Venice I have ever seen. I’m an artist and photographer myself, and just showed them to another brilliant photographer friend here in the US. She too is utterly amazed by their beauty. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: - Hazy shades of Venice – | Paolo De Faveri Landscape Photography

  3. Maybe I’m very old-fashioned but I keep thinking of Ferrucccio Leiss and the word-portrait of Venice in Brodsky’s ‘Watermark’.. I can’t think of winter Venice in colour at all. Probably time I made a winter visit myself.


    • Thank you Peter for sharing your thought. I do love black and white photography too, and the Venice’s pictures of Francesco Ferruccio Leiss are among those that I like the best, his works are maybe only second in my book after those of Michael Kenna.


  4. Everyone loves Venice. I like your long exposures that smooth out the water of the canals. When I am there I like to wander the back neighborhoods with no tourists and take photos that are almost artistic abstracts of the deteriorating, colorful walls, windows and doors,


    • Thanks for commenting John. Yes, I think that getting lost in the maze of calles, porticoes and campoes of Venice is the best thing one can do for being really soaked-in with its unique beauties. Which are not, or at least not only, San Marco, Doge’s palace and Rialto. I believe Venice is one of those places in the world where you never run out of good photo opportunities, even if you shoot there every day of your life.


  5. Wow !!! Reminds me of my trip to Venice a long time ago as a cadet on a general cargo vessel.
    The most romantic city on earth.
    Great photographs. Love them.


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