Picture perfect: Capturing the rustic beauty of Italy’s Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre at golden hour

Cinque Terre, (in Italian, “the five towns”) are nestled in the northwest corner of Italy, close to France. With crazy vistas, bomb beaches, and pasta up to your eyeballs, the Cinque Terre region is a true jewel of Italian travel.

The towns of Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare) connect via a train line that runs all day. A host of hiking trails lead to stunning vistas, the blue sea, and the famous colorful buildings of each town. There are almost no cars in the towns, cutting down on noise pollution and creating a timeless, picturesque environment, and an ideal setting for some fabulous photography.

This is the place to come and explore, hike, eat, drink, and cliff jump! The cuisine is ocean-to-table, accompanied by heavenly mouth-watering, and perplexingly simple pasta. Maybe it’s the water, or maybe it’s just some kind of magic in the air, but the pasta is out of this world.

So now you’re probably thinking… hmmm, amazing vista views, colorful seaside architecture, and delicious food… sign me up, and let me grab my camera!

Here are a few shots from my time in Cinque Terre, along with some tips on how to make your Instagram dreams come true when you post your own glorious photos.

1Shooting for Context

Here I am using the foreground element of the leaves in the bottom of the frame to lead eyes to the seaside village of Manarola. The green of the leaves matches to the sloping green hills while contrasting nicely with the ocean and setting up the context of the type of environment we are hiking in.

One element that I like to incorporate into landscape photos, especially for Instagram, is using foreground elements when the subject of my photo is far away. In addition to supplying environmental context, foreground elements help give your image depth. Check out a few of these shots where I incorporated foreground elements to give my photos context and help focus the viewer’s attention.

Here we are using these umbrellas as our foreground element while focusing on my friends Britt and Steven while they enter the blue waters of the Mediterranean. I have placed them between two of the poles and it frames them so that our focus goes right to them. That’s instant FOMO for your followers right there.

2Finding the Patterns and Textures

Credit to the beach attendants who placed these umbrellas in Monterosso al Mare because these leading lines really pop. The waves of these sun shades compliment those of the ocean they sit in front of, and travel far off into the distance, leading us to more colorful architecture, with sun worshippers spotting the coast along the way.

Cinque Terre is full of exceptional patterns and textures. It’s great to find these when you can because patterns can create their own art. It’s like a picture within a picture. I always look for leading lines, natural lines created by architecture, environment (mountains, trees, etc.), or in this case, umbrellas and noodles.

Linguine with the freshest of fresh pesto. Just the right amount of creaminess and herbs to perfectly merge these noodles together and then into my face! Food textures are some of the most fun to play with. I could have taken an even tighter shot to just focus on the noodles and the lines they create, but I think I was too hungry.

3The Power of the Golden Hour

When shooting at the golden hour, keep in mind that your camera settings are very important. Since there will be a big contrast in light, try and make sure the exposure of the subject you are shooting is slightly underexposed (slightly darker than it should be) so that when you edit it, you can lighten up your subject and the background will already be properly exposed, which is going to be IG gold.

My final piece of advice for creating great Instagram shots in Cinque Terre (or anywhere else) centers around sunlight. My golden rule (see what I did there?) is to chase the light and shoot at the golden hour, the hour before the sun rises and sets. That’s right, it happens twice a day! The sun is at its lowest in the sky, creating a dazzling golden light and pleasing shadows. Cinque Terre is especially beautiful since everything is near the coast and when the sun sets over the water you get a nice reflection shining off the surface.

Remember, these photo tips aren’t just for places like Cinque Terre. You can use these anywhere to create banger IG content, get your feed looking proper, and have people saying, “WOW! I need to go THERE next!”

Until next week!

Hi guys! I’m Harry and I’m a digital nomad originally from Boston, MA and currently living in Tel Aviv, Israel! I’m a photographer and video creator with a passion for traveling. During my trips, I document each day with hundreds of photos and gigabytes of video footage as well. I hope sharing my photos and Instagram tips inspires you to venture outside of your comfort zone and explore more beautiful places on this planet!

This is the first installment of my So Tov series on Europe.