Please sign in to post.

Photography in Italy

My fiance and I will be traveling to Italy for our honeymoon in October. We will be visiting: Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome, Sorrento. It will be our first (and possibly last) trip to Italy, so we're really excited.

We're both photographers, and though we're supposed to be in Italy for our "relaxing honeymoon getaway", all we really want to do is run around and take a ridiculous amount of pictures! :)

So, my question is, what are the major attractions/museums in the areas listed above that do NOT allow photography? We're most likely going to avoid those places for this trip.

Also, I know all of the cities we're visiting are a photographer's dream, but if anyone has any specific recommendations for cool photo-ops and specific vantage points for landscape shots, please share!


Posted by
72 posts

Piazza Michelangelo at dusk is not be be missed.

Posted by
1313 posts

If you avoid the places that do not allow photography, you will miss out on a lot of absolutely stunning artwork, which I think would be a great shame. I would suggest trying to convince yourselves to put the camera down for two hours. I took over 1000 pictures in 6 days, AND visited a lot of sights that didn't allow photographs. You can do both! Just my two cents...

However, especially if you are not into art and you really want to skip places that do not allow photography, don't go to: the Sistine Chapel, the Borghese Gallery, the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia (in Florence with David). Those are the ones that immediately come to mind, I'll let someone else add more.

My suggestion for getting the "great" shots is to get high. Climb to the top of St. Peters' Dome on a sunny day and you can see out to the mountains. Try seeing the Pantheon on a rainy day and take a picture of the rain falling through the ceiling. My absolute most favorite picture from Italy is a shot of the Ponte Vecchio with the Duomo in the background, taken from the window of the Uffizi Gallery. Since I wasn't taking a picture of anything IN the museum, no one seemed to mind...or at least, I didn't get caught! ;)

You will have a fantastic time in Italy no matter what!

Posted by
26 posts

Liz, Thanks so much for the recommendations!!

We will most certainly try to visit the major sites that do not allow photography (I'm particularly interested in going to the Uffizi Gallery), but the photographs are definitely our #1 priority.

We do enjoy art (and making our own art :)) so this is going to be a tough, but FUN, balancing act for us!

Posted by
389 posts

Hi Anne,
Everything Liz says I agree with but just wanted to add that you will get the most amazing pictures in the Cinque Terre. Make sure you go on the trails (the hardest trails are the most scenic). My son and I just spent 13 days in Italy and he took 986 pics and I took about 650. CT were the best...with every turn is another gorgeous shot!

Posted by
6898 posts

Anne, we took 1,700 pictures on our most recent 3-week trip. Those 2GB chips are wonderful. Most mueusms with paintings will not let you take pictures. You absolutely can't take pictures of David in the Accadamia. In many many museums, you have to check your large bags. Strangely, however, they let you hold on to your camera even though you may be prohibited from taking pictures.

As for taking great pictures, it's your eye that counts and not our suggestions. You'll find that special footbridge on a side canal in Venice that knocks you out. A special feature on the coliseum in Rome. 13th centtury stone building arches in Assisi. You get the idea.

Posted by
632 posts


This is the most picturesque of all of the Venetian've seen pictures of brightly colored row houses lining a canal filled with boats...that's Burano. I spent hours there with a cheap point and shoot and got some great shots...

Posted by
7737 posts

You're in for a treat in Venice. During peak tourist hours in Venice (say 10 to 5), avoid San Marco and the Rialto Bridge and the areas in between. I found beautiful non-touristy photos to take in the Castello area of Venice (the tail of the fish, near the Arsenale). I imagine the same is true of Cannaregio and Giudecca. Save Rialto and San Marco for early or late in the day.

Half the fun is finding the places on your own. (Almost any small bridge in Venice has a great shot.)

For Florence, go to Piazzale Michelangelo or Fiesole for ridgetop views back at Florence.

Posted by
850 posts

Cinque Terre offers some beautiful scenery for photography. That along with the Dolomites were my two favorite places for landscape photos. If you hike the 5 towns in the Cinque Terre you should find some great places to stop for some beautiful shots. We only hiked the Via dell'Amore but got plenty of nice photos along with the other towns traveled by train. Vernazza Harbor offers some nice opportunities for good photos.
In Rome go to the Colosseum at night as well as during the day. As someone mentioned some places do not allow photography but do allow you to keep your camera. Some places will allow photos but not with a flash. There is a gentleman in Rome who gives photography tours and I know of one person who took his tour and recommends it highly. Here is the link to his website if you wish to check it out.
I was going to try it but we went in May and he did not start his tours until June.

In Venice across the Lagoon from St. Mark's Square you can go to the top of San Giorgio Maggiore Church for some really nice views of Venice. You take the eleator to the top for a small price. Just check the hours of operation as they don't stay open real late.

Posted by
14 posts

I am so glad you asked this question. I love taking pictures and plan on doing the same as you when my husband and I go to Italy this November.I will totally take the advise of all the folks that replied. Thanks for the advise everyone!


Posted by
26 posts

Thanks everyone for all of the great suggestions. Keep 'em coming! I'll be researching every single one of them!

Sally, I hope you and your husband have a wonderful trip. With all of the recommendations listed above, it looks like we'll have many amazing photo-ops to look out for!

Posted by
4555 posts

I've tried both video recorders that take stills, and still cameras that take video clips and, frankly, I prefer the latter. It's lighter, smaller, and cheaper, and the video clips I get are good quality for showing on my computer or TV...not the high quality of a video camera at its highest resolution, but good enough for me. Any moderately priced still camera that can do video clips with audio can be mics on both still and video cameras are pretty awful anyway. Pick a camera with the highest resolution you can afford (6 megapixels would be more than enough) and choose one that uses an SD card....common to find just about anywhere these days, although in Europe you may find the similar MMS card, which also fits. Also, choose one with the greatest OPTICAL zoom you can find. Another big benefit...most of the still digital cameras today operate on two or (less frequently) four AA batteries, so they're easy and cheap to replace. I should mention that one benefit of the video camera is that it has a much greater optical zoom capability, so it can bring distant objects much closer...but that's one reason they're larger than still cameras.

Posted by
100 posts

Hi Anne - we're in the same boat . . . well, not with the honeymoon but with the photos at least. LOL

My brother, my wife and I are all avid photographers - we're bringing a notebook computer, external hard drive and blank DVDs with us to store the photos (DVDs for backup copies). If we shoot less than 10,000 photos I'll be suprised, and video as well.

There are many places that don't allow photography, from what I've read. We'll still go to those places, although it will be a disappointment. I expect we'll be getting postcards of specific sights that we can't shoot for ourselves. It gets really strange as to where you can and can't shoot. According to Angel Tours, for example, no photography in the Sistine Chapel but you can shoot pix elsewhere - but not video. Here's what Angel Tours told me specifically:

"Video is not allowed to be taken anywhere inside the Vatican Museum. However, you can take as many photos as you like, except in the Sistine Chapel. You can take your video equipment in, they won't confiscate it from you, you're just not allowed to use it inside."

Check out RS's walking tours - we expect to use these for photo tours, particularly in the evenings or early mornings. We'll have tripods / monopods with us to shoot in those low-light settings.

Posted by
710 posts

I feel the same way as Norm. We take a Canon Elph digital camera. We can take both pictures and videoclips. It is small and easy to use. We bought extra batteries and recharge them at night for the next day. I bought extra SD Cards so I didn't have to worry about erasing anything until after we got home. We create movies that we turn into DVD's to watch on our TV. We had some great shots from the top of St. Peter's as someone else had suggested. Some overlook the Vatican Gardens, rooftops, and the city. Be sure to get to the front of the Vaparetto as you go down the Grand Canal in Venice of some interesting photos and/or movies. In the CT my husband got some great shots of the approach the towns walking from Monterossa. We got some great shots from the passenger ferry looking up at CT. One thing we always do now is photograph our Menu cover to remember the any special restaurants we ate at. I sometime photograph a beautifully presented meal and/or dessert. People say our DVD's make them hungry. Have a wonderful honeymoon.

Posted by
119 posts

What a shame that we can no longer photograph David in the Academia! When I was there in 1995 with a regular SLR, it was allowed. I walked all around him snapping away! Now, I am really glad that I did.

Posted by
31055 posts

Anne, I'm also an avid travel Photographer. I discovered during a trip to the U.K. in 2004 that P&S Cameras have some "limitations", so my current kit includes a dSLR with a few extra Lenses. I also carry a small Canon Elph as it's handy to take out at night for candid snapshots or whatever. There have been MANY instances when I've been really glad to have the dSLR, as I've been able to get some shots that wouldn't have been possible with a P&S.

As far as things to photograph, there are so MANY possibilities in the places you listed. As others have mentioned, photography is possible in many Churches and some Museums, but usually only allowed without flash. Also, some locations prohibit use of Tripods.

A few suggestions:

Venice - Piazza san Marco (at night or after a rain), Gondolas, canals, buildings, view of Venice from the tower?

Florence - Ponte Vecchio (esp. at night), Duomo, view of city from across the river, scenes of Fiesole, street entertainers in the main Piazza?

Rome - Colosseum, Forum, old buildings on Palatine Hill, bridges on the Tiber, Isola Tiberina, Pantheon (inside & out), Victor Emmanuel Monument, street scenes in Trastevere, various Piazzas such as Navona or Campo di FIori, Trevi Fountain?

Cinque Terre - villages both from land and the sea, trails, buildings, people, harbor areas & boats?

Sorrento - view of city from the surrounding hills, harbour areas & boats, street and people scenes, cruise ships in the bay?

The Borghese Gallery is VERY strict about photos! Visitors must check any kind of bags, purses, backpacks etc. Even if one had a Camera in a pocket, there are guards in each room and CCTV everywhere. The Borghese gardens next to the gallery are beautiful and a good photo op.

St. Peter's allows photos as I recall. The view from the top of the dome is fantastic (especially looking toward Castel d'Angelo).

Congratulations and hope you have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
7737 posts

One thing that surprised me there (we just got back) was that quite a few of the lesser churches and museums do allow video but not cameras. I assume it's because of the flash. And some let you take pictures as long as you turn off the flash first.

Posted by
448 posts

This really isn't advice..just comment. We're back from a week in Rome and i shot 2 rolls of film..48 shots...with my old fashioned Minolta XG-1...and have a easy to hold in the hand, pass around, notebook/journal entitled "Christian's Vacation in Rome".. I was amazed by how many people we saw viewing the city thru the tiny screen of their digital cameras...However, having done a fair amount of photgraphy over the years, I'd suggest being selective and consider who you're taking the photos for.

Posted by
448 posts

Actually, i do have advice..Get up early..The light is lovely and so different than the rest of the day...Might be difficult to do on a honeymoon....and as photographers you probably well know your light already.

Posted by
6 posts

Hi Anne,
The advice that's already posted is great, so I'll just add one suggestion. I was in Italy last week and loved Fiesole for the wonderful landscapes, including great views of Florence. There is a terrace that provides amazing views of the whole city and the surrounding mountains. We only went to Rome and Florence, so I'm sure that there are many other wonderful -- and probably even more scenic Tuscan towns -- but Fiesole is only a 20 minute bus ride from Florence. It's also a great little tourist-free respite from Florence, which is wonderful but was very busy and crowded when we were there.

Posted by
689 posts

You will find more detail shots than you can take... on our last trip I concentrated on doors in small villages. The doors are fabulous! As are the door knobs!

Window gardens - beautiful colorful flowers hanging down the side of midevil age stone buidings...

Fountains! Sculpture in the fountains. I have a great one from Piazza Navona with a pigeon napping on the head of one of the Gods in the far fountain...

Everywhere you look you will shoot a photo.

Posted by
448 posts

Darling...everyone's done DOORS and Cats and this and that...that's why i suggest to just try to see as you see...and not ask for someone to SEE for you...

Posted by
9 posts


I just got back from a 3.5 week trip to Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, lake Como).

I shot 32 GB of photos. My biggest challenge was holding my camera steady in low light situations for slow shutter speed shots.

I used a Canon G9 which makes an expensive but almost perfect travel camera. It has built in image stabilization which meant I could do pretty well from 1/15 sec and faster. below that I had to improvise.

The Duomo museum in Florence was that great rarity..a museum that allowed camera AND flash. Do not miss it..the original baptistry's doors and a great Michelangelo statue are there (along with John the Baptist's finger).

For store windows or glass-encased art I found it worked to very gently place my lens on the glass to avoid reflections..that worked really well (especially for Venetian mask stores at night with a flash.)

Do not let employees in stores or train conductors see you taking photos..they will almost invariably tell you in english not to.

In Florence catch the number 13 bus at the right side of the train station and get a seat on the right side for a GREAT ride with some breathtaking views. Ride it all the way back to Termini...or buy a day pass and jump on and off to take pictures.

Lake Como was much more photogenic than Bellagio. If you're in lake Como..climb the hill to the castle and also do not miss the fumelatte in the next village (see RS Italy 2008).

In Venice ride the vaporetti and make for the back or the front just as the sun starts to go down a bit and the light gets magic...The grand canal palaces start to glow at that hour.

In venice don't forget that the reflections in the canals can be almost more photogenic than what they are reflecting.

For amazing macro nature photography do NOT miss the cactus greenhouse in Rome's botanical garden in Travestere. When I was there in May there were hundreds of species of cacti all blooming!The park itself is beautiful and restful.

Peter McG.

Posted by
8 posts

What surprised me is that some museums are very strict about allowing photos and some do not care as long as you don't use flash. Except for the Sistine Chapel, I was able to photograph anything I wanted in the Vatican Museum. In the National Museum of Rome, I photographed everything. It was the best place to see wall paintings intact. Also, the museum was almost deserted. It was my wife's favorite Roman site. I had to buy postcards in the Cappuccin Crypts in Rome and scan them to include with my photo show. They like to protect their postcard business. There wasn't any place in Rome I could not photograph.

Posted by
100 posts

As of mid-June 2008 in Venice:

Secret Tour of Doge's Palace - No photos.

Doge's Palace - No photos allowed.

St. Marks Square - Construction going on around the base of the bell tower mars the scenery a bit. More construction on the bell tower. Excellent spot for nighttime photography - just take your tripod and remote shutter release. My wife had a blast with her starlight filter; there are lots of points of light in St. Marks square that work well for starlights.

St. Marks Basilica - Significant exterior construction going on. No interior photos allowed.
Grand Canal Tour – No problems with photography, obviously. Sitting in the open bow of the vaparetto gives the best view.

Top of Campanile – Great views and photo ops. You have to check your shoulder bag but you can carry your camera up - so plan on hand carrying any extra lenses with you.

Lagoon Tour:

Murano – Mostly open to photography. Some glass blowing demonstrations ask for no flash. Some stores don’t allow video, some don’t allow any photography and some don’t care. I saw stores with signs saying we couldn’t take pictures of their window displays (which is absurd).

Burano - This island is a living photo study. I found no place that restricted photography. The leaning church tower is surrounded by scaffolding.
Torcello – Few restrictions on photography, other than inside the church.

Rialto Bridge – No restrictions, obviously. The view of the canal from the bridge is beautiful, especially at night.

Posted by
100 posts

As of mid-June 2008 in Florence:

Duomo Museum - Photography allowed - we saw "no flash" signs only in one room. You can get face to face with Michelangelo's last Pieta, no glass or other protection around it, which allows you to get great shots.

Duomo - Photography with flash allowed.

Uffizi – No photography allowed. However, when you go, stick a camera in your pocket. You can get good photos of the Ponte Vecchio out the window of the Uffizi and that is no problem with the rules. Also, nice outdoor shots from the cafeteria area.

Palazzo Vecchio - There is a large crane behind the building which detracts from the skyline right now, as you can see in the picture to the right. Also there is lots of construction going on in the courtyard where the famous Florentines statues are located. We did not go inside so I don't know whether or not they allow photography.

Santa Maria Novella Church - They stated that this was a holy place and we should respect that by not taking pictures inside . . . but for some reason it wasn't offensive to them to take pictures themselves and SELL them to you. Hmmm.

Farmacia de Santa Maria Novella - All types of photography were allowed.

Medici Chapel – Lots of interior and exterior construction. No photography allowed.
San Lorenzo Church - No photography allowed. Another

Accademia – No photography allowed.

Santa Croce Church - Non-flash photography was allowed inside but it's very dark.

Bargello - Photography allowed in the courtyard only.

Santa Croce Church - There is a LOT of construction going on inside the church. Non-flash photography was allowed inside but it's very dark.

Posted by
100 posts

As of mid-June 2008 in Rome:

Santa Maria della Vittoria - All types of photography were allowed.

Santa Maria degli Angeli - types of photography were allowed.

The Church of Santa Susanna - types of photography were allowed.

National Museum of Rome - Non flash photography allowed throughout.

Vatican - Photography was allowed everywhere but the Sistine Chapel. Flash photography was allowed everywhere but rooms where paintings or tapestries were on display.

Santa Maria Del Popolo – All types of photography allowed.

Santa Maria Degli Angeli – All types of photography was allowed.

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - All types of photography were allowed.

Mamertine Prison – All types of photography were allowed.

St. Peter in Chains Church – All types of photography were permitted at this site.

Borghese Gallery - I got the sense that if you tried to take a photo their staff might actually pull out a gun and shoot you. They really, really didn't want you taking pictures in there.

Coliseum - Obviously, all types of photography are allowed there.

Roman Forum - Obviously, all types of photography are allowed there.

Capital Hill Museums - Non-flash photography allowed. Standing in the Campidoglo, facing the Palazzo Senatorio . . . if you walk to the right side of the Palazzo Senatorio on a walkway that goes between the Palazzo Senatorio and the Palazzo dei Conservatori, about halfway down the hill is a photo spot that offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Forum ruins.

Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II - a quarter of this structure is undergoing renovations and is covered in scaffolding right now. Also, they're doing a lot of work in the Piazza Venezia. No limits on photography.

Piazza Navona – Obviously, all types of photography are allowed there. Center fountain is undergoing restoration so it’s not working and it’s surrounded by scaffolding, etc.

Posted by
63 posts

Venice - no photography in Guggenheim museum or St. Mark's Basilica

Florence - no photography in Uffizi or Academmia

Rome - no photography in Borghese Museum

The whole country is photogenic by the way. If you like it, snap it.

Posted by
261 posts

Caapucine Crypts - no photography, but they sell nice postcards.

San Clemente - No Flash upstairs, flash OK in other 2 churches.

St. John Lateran - No Flash, but plenty bright.

Duomo in Florence - You can get up close and personal to the fresco of the dome when you climb the dome.

Duomo museum in Florence (an overlooked gem) - Photos OK, Even of Ghiberti's doors.

Best tip: Leave your 5 pound Nikon at home. I traded my Nikon with the 3 pound lens and 50 rolls of film for a Sony cybershot. It shoots great in low light and with expanded card we shot over 1000 pix. Did I mention it weighs about 6 oz. which is heaven on a 2 week trip.