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8 Must Snap Photo-Ops While Studying Abroad in Italy

Italy is known for picturesque landscapes, stunning architecture and one-of-a-kind views that are a photographers dream come true. While the best pictures usually aren’t planned, there are a few places you’ll want to make sure to add to your must-see list -- especially if you’re on a mission to Instagram your way through Italy’s most iconic destinations.

As you plan your adventures, be sure to check out these places to capture the most photogenic parts of Italy. Taking photos is a great way to slow down and take in your surroundings, plus they make a meaningful (and cheap) souvenir that won’t end up in a junk drawer one day. If getting quality pictures is hard with all the people or you’re in a time crunch, try getting up early to get all your photos done before the rest of the city wakes up. You’ll have fewer people in your shots, better lighting, and a plenty of time to explore and capture photos of otherwise crowded places.

While you’re sure to discover unique and beautiful things to photograph, this list will get you started so you don’t miss out on some iconic photo ops, whether you’re studying abroad or just passing through.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

1. Leaning Tower of Pisa

Posing with the leaning tower may seem cheesy, but it is one of the most classic and obligatory photo ops in Italy. Join with the other tourists and embrace the awkwardness as you work to get the perfect shot. It’s only fitting that the artist who first illustrated perspective hailed from Italy, so pay tribute to Massacio by getting creative with how you hold up, knock down, hug, or kick the tower.

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Luminara di San Ranieri

2. Luminara di San Ranieri

If you happen to be near Pisa in late-June, the Luminara of San Ranieri is an annual traditional celebrating the patron saint of Pisa, which offers stunning and unique photo opportunities. Over 70,000 flickering candles line the river and the buildings along it, reflecting off the waters of the Arno and creating a spectacular backdrop for the fireworks show that happens between 11 and 12pm. Photos from the night paint a unique portrait of Pisa that not many get to see!

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Trevi Fountain

3. Trevi Fountain

Tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain symbolizes your future return to Rome and is a must-have photo whether you’re living in Rome or just passing through. Don’t be deterred by the crowd, people are considerate about sharing time in front of the iconic landmark. Check it out at night when the fountain is illuminated for a more unique photo.

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The Vatican

4. The Vatican

The headquarters of the Catholic church houses some of the most recognizable art and architecture in the world. The Sistine Chapel and other beautifully crafted rooms detailed by greats like Michelangelo guide you to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. The top of the dome boasts one of the most impressive views of Rome overlooking St. Peter’s square.

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San Miniato

5. San Miniato

The Florentine skyline is one of the most well recognized in the world and one that travelers and photographers alike have sought to capture at the perfect angle. While most stop at Piazzale Michelangelo, if you continue up further to Chiesa San Miniato, the highest point in the city. Not only are there fewer tourists to contend with, but also the perspective above the city is a perfect for getting the perfect shot.

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The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

6. The Ponte Vecchio

The “Old Bridge” was originally a meat market but was converted to a jewelry market when the smell offended the nearby royals in the 16th century. The bridge is the only bridge in the city not to be destroyed during WWII, allegedly because of its sentimental significance for some of the invading officers. The romantic tradition continues for modern day lovers who place locks along the bridge and throw the keys into the Arno below, sealing their love. To get to best photo, stand one bridge over on Ponte Santa Trinita or head down to the river’s edge for a more unique angle. At sunrise and sunset, the light plays on the water to make for stunning shots.

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Tuscany, Italy

7. Sunflowers in Tuscany

Driving through the Tuscan countryside at any time of year will provide some favorite photos for any traveler. Should you be in the area in late summer (end of July-early September), you’ll find the girasoli in full bloom, enhancing the already captivating landscape. It’s hard not to find beauty in a field full of sunflowers on a bright summer day. Even if it’s not summer, the Tuscan countryside can be a beautiful place to photograph, especially if you’ve grabbed a few friends for a road trip along the winding roads.

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Cinque Terre

8. Cinque Terre

Located in Liguria, not far from Tuscany, Cinque Terre is a group of five villages connected by old goat trails that wind through the mountains along the coast of the Italian Riviera. Terraces and colorful homes have been carefully built into the rugged landscape, giving the area a unique charm and drawing tourists from afar to stroll through the tiny towns, each with its own look and feel. Hiking between the towns offers the chance to photograph each from the cliffs above or to take in the view from the beaches below. For a challenge well worth the reward, try the hike at night to capture the towns below with the lights reflecting on the water.

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Olivia Salmonese studies Psychology and Business in North Carolina but has forever been changed by her experiences in Florence, Italy and cannot wait to get back. Deep down, she is waiting for the travel channel to offer her a show but in the meantime, she enjoys reading, laughing, cappuccinos and can make a pretty great lasagna.

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