We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Emanuele Zola (@ema_therabbit) shows us the vibrant colors and moody shadows of Italy.

Turin's Monte dei Cappuccini, as captured by Emanuele Zola.Turin

I was born in Turin and still live in the city, but I only started photographing my surroundings three years ago. My father has always had a passion for photography, and when I was growing up, he would let me play with his cameras. When I was 10, he gave me the first camera of my own, a disposable one, which I quickly fell in love with. From there, I began leafing through the works of photographers like Erwitt and Gardin (who I still greatly admire). At the beginning, my photo journey almost felt like a game, but when I began studying technique and composition, it felt more like a necessity. I quickly became amazed by the opportunities that my own city offered me, with its unique lighting and history.

Turin is situated in northwestern Italy, nestled against the Alps. Thanks to the city’s natural beauty and lovely architecture, it offers many incredible viewpoints. The Monte dei Cappuccini, which you see in the first photo, is one of my favorites in that sense. It’s located on a hill across the river from the downtown area, so it guarantees a good view. But I’ve also found that looking at the Monte dei Cappuccini from downtown can be just as beautiful! The day I took this picture, it started to snow early in the morning, so I decided to go for a walk (the snow can be very romantic when it wants to be). While I was walking along the river bank, I noticed the rowers training despite the heavy snowfall, and I wanted to capture their courage.

Sunset in Turin, Italy, as captured by Emanuele Zola.
A young boy on a bike, captured through an arch by Emanuele Zola.

To tell the truth, however, the view from Monte dei Cappuccini is lovely in every season — each shows the city in a wonderful, yet different, light. From that viewpoint, the most photographed scene is certainly the one with the Mole Antonelliana (a major landmark and museum) in the foreground. But on the day I took the second photo you see here, I decided to change my point of view and shoot in the other direction. It was a gorgeous day and the sunset was breathtaking, so the effort to walk up there was abundantly repaid. I really appreciate the way the city usually looks at that time, when a warm light envelops everything and evokes emotions that I struggle to describe.

Finally, Turin is home to an impossibly high number of arches, which I love to use in my photos because they provide the chance to play with light, shadow, and perspective, like you see in the third photo here. People from Turin love these arches immensely. Not only are they beautiful, but they also allow you to enjoy a walk all year round, even during the rainy days of winter and autumn.

The streets and stairs of Atrani, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is known worldwide, so it’s no surprise that people from all over the globe come to visit it every year — myself included, as my grandparents were born there. Unfortunately, my grandfather died a few years ago, but I still have my beloved grandmother. Every summer, we venture to the coast, and during those trips, I’ve learned that the Amalfi Coast is full of tradition, spirituality, passion, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant corners. It’s truly alive, always welcoming visitors with a warm embrace.

As a photographer, I’ve also realized that the early morning is the best time of the day to explore the coast’s unique locations. That’s when the people, the streets, the houses, and the sea are all waking up, so everything feels peaceful and relaxed. I love talking with the inhabitants of the area and hearing their stories, which they’re always happy to share. What’s more, everything is covered by an amazing natural light, making the structures and landscapes all the more beautiful.

My favorite cities on the Amalfi Coast are Atrani and Amalfi itself. Atrani is one of the smallest cities in Italy, but it has a lot of stories to tell. It’s a city made up only of stairs, and the best way to explore it is to get lost in the vertical alleys and the surrounding paths and lemon groves that offer an enchanting view of the coastline.

A boat bobbing on the Amalfi Coast at night, as captured by Emanuele Zola.
The shore along the Amalfi Coast, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

On the day that I took this first photo, we had initially wanted to spend the day at Amalfi, but then we noticed a path that we had never taken and decided to follow it instead. It ended up leading us to a cemetery before continuing toward the hill behind Amalfi and farther to Atrani, where we spent the rest of the morning. Later on, as we waited for the bus to head home, I noticed a lady dressed completely in orange walking down the steps leading to the lower part of the village, so I decided to capture the moment. Her dress stood in contrast with the white of the houses that surrounded it, and I found it striking.

As Amalfi is larger than Atrani, it’s full of secrets and hidden corners. Its main street is lined with a variety of shops, including my favorite pastry shop, Andrea Pansa (if you happen to visit, you have to try their Delizie al Limone). But Amalfi is also known for its views, so if you want to enjoy the most impressive ones that the city has to offer, venture to the pier where the lighthouse is located. I always go at sunset to take advantage of Golden Hour. The experience is indescribable — the only way to understand it is to go there in person.

A gondola in front of a basilica, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

Venice

One evening in Venice, I decided that I needed to see the sunset from the Ponte dell’Accademia, so brought my camera along as I watched dusk come and go. The view from the Ponte dell’Accademia is certainly among the most famous in the city, and I wanted to give my interpretation of this view. I spent almost an hour on the bridge, quietly waiting for the moment that I had imagined so many times: the tiny gondola with the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute in the background.

Close to Piazza San Marco lies the Ponte della Paglia, from which you can enjoy the view of the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). The gondola that heads toward the bridge is one of the absolutely must-see postcard views, which you can admire in my second shot.

Venice's famous Bridge of Sighs, as captured by Emanuele Zola.
The gondolas of Venice on a December morning, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

When I travel, I usually wake up early to admire the location at the dawn. When I visited Venice in December, I found it was particularly enchanting during this hour, when the city was covered by the cold light of a winter morning. At that time, San Marco Square looked magical, and for a moment, I felt like it all belonged to me. The lagoon was not calm as it usually is, but as I passed the little port for the gondolas, I tried to capture the icy waters and the feeling they evoked. The third image you see here was the resulting shot.

Colorful buildings in Camogli, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

Camogli

I had seen many photographs of Camogli, and its colors had always fascinated me, so one spring morning, I finally set out to visit. I spent the day exploring the city’s calm corners, digging into some of the best pasta and pesto I’ve ever had, and people-watching around town. I quickly noticed that the city is extremely tiny, colorful, and picture-perfect. It almost felt like I spent my time walking through a painting, as you can see in the first and second photos.

In some parts of this fishing village, time seems to have completely stopped. In the shadow of the bell tower, you can catch snapshots of classic city life, such as fishermen heading off to work in the early morning, or children playing soccer in the small park nearby, always under the watchful eye of their grandmothers in the windows. Telling the everyday life of these villages is one of the things that drives me to go out and photograph.

A woman above a storefront in Camogli, as captured by Emanuele Zola.
Children playing soccer in Camogli, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

Be sure to stay on your guard when visiting Camogli — if not, it’s possible that you’ll become so drawn in that you’ll never want to leave. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Smoke and craters on Mount Etna, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

Sicily

I ventured to Sicily for the first time a year ago. Although it was a quick visit, I wanted to see as much of the island as I possibly could, so I went to Mount Etna, Catania, and Ortigia.

Mount Etna had a funny way of changing my perspective. While I was walking up, down, across, and over its volcanic landscape, I felt minuscule, and all of my problems and thoughts seemed suddenly meaningless. As if that wasn’t enough, the vast red earth made me feel like I was on Mars. I’ve never had an experience quite like it, and I did my best to capture what that felt like in the first photo of this section.

Catania, on the other hand, is full of history; it’s noticeable as soon as you arrive. This UNESCO heritage site is an undisputed example of Sicilian Baroque architecture, and aside from its contributions to art, the city is dynamic and warm, with people who are always ready to offer visitors a lovely smile. While there, I wanted to capture an image that represented all of that — the city’s historical vein, its people, and its contrasts. Catania is a city of a thousand faces, and I think the second shot you see here represents Catania well.

A Sicilian Baroque building, as captured by Emanuele Zola.
Houses overlooking the water in Ortigia, as captured by Emanuele Zola.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find sunny weather in Ortigia, an island that constitutes the oldest part of the city of Syracuse, but that didn’t stop me from having an enjoyable (and enlightening) stay there. From what I’ve seen, Ortigia has two souls: one belonging to the residents and one belonging to the tourists. Understandably, the local side of that identity is much more raw, but I think that you have to discover and experience both souls if you want to understand the true nature of the city. In the third photo you see here, you’ll notice the white houses near the sea, which I would classify as belonging to the local soul because real Sicilians spend their lives in these homes. There are so many more secrets that you can discover if you lose yourself in this incredible place, and I’m no expert on the city, but I can’t wait to go back and get to know it better.

Interested in getting to know more photographers like Emanuele Zola? Check out our Instagram Spotlight series for inspiration, stories, and photo tips!

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Emanuele Zola
Emanuele Zola is a medical student based in Torino, Italy. He picked up photography just a few years ago, but since then, he has never stopped studying and experimenting. He loves to travel, trying to discover the hidden corners of the places he visits.