As soon as we saw it, we wanted the shot. On the road from Milan to Bolzano, Italy, we drove by picturesque vineyards and charming villages. There were houses painted with pastels and dirt roads leading high into the mountains. It wasn’t until we saw the towering castle tucked into the foothills of the Alps that Spencer signaled to get off the highway.
It was Castello di Avio, a castle that passed between several wealthy Italian families as far back as the 11th century. The way the clouds rolled over it. The way the sun hit it. Photographers sometimes want to take edgy shots, bearing witness or exposing truth. This time, we just wanted a beautiful shot. Something that unambiguously said Italy.
“How do we get up there?” Spencer wondered. We approached the hill. I thought we should go right. Dead end. We went left, turning into a small collection of houses on a hill. We passed a young boy on his bike. An old Italian woman scowled at us, perhaps the first car to drive by all day. The road narrowed even more. Another dead end. Pavement turned into cobblestones. The car rocked and nearly slid into a rock wall. We were close, but a set of power lines obstructed the shot. Just a little further.
Under the power lines, just as the car was about to give up, we put it in park. We both climbed onto a nearby wall. Spencer snapped his shutter once, then a few more times, then gave me a thumbs up. We turned around and headed back to the highway, by the woman, the boy on the bike, and a man selling apples from the trunk of his car.