This is the blog of Steve Burkett of Italy, Our Italy

Venice's Sestiere

Index of Blog Articles

First, let me be one of the last to wish you a Happy New Year! I hope this year is filled with joy and hope-realized for you.

I know I’ve been away for a bit, as many of you have reminded me as you asked and wrote, “Where are your articles on Italy?”  But, I’m back now. However, I do feel a bit fickle about my absence because of what I was doing when I wasn’t preparing my Italy, Our Italy articles.

During the next few weeks, I will be going over the various districts, or ‘sestiere’, of the most interesting, beautiful and mysterious city in the world – Venice.

I hope you don’t think less of me when you find that I was working on photos from our latest trip – a trip to England, Scotland and Ireland. There were fewer vineyards there (actually, we saw none), less pasta and wine (we made up for the wine with ciders), but the people were just as friendly as those of our Italian encounters. I’d have to say that the countryside of the UK environs was a good bit more cultivated and elegant than those of Italy…but maybe simplicity and magic are what continues to draw us to Italy.

At any rate, it took me a good bit of time to get through the photos from our trip. If you would like to see just a few of the photos from our England-Scotland-Ireland trip, you can see them by clicking this button...

During the next few weeks, I will be going over the various districts, or ‘sestiere’, of the most interesting, beautiful and mysterious city in the world – Venice. I began this journey with the article on the San Marco sestiere on February 16, 2016 in the article titled ‘The Sestiere of Venice”.

As this new year progresses, I’ll cover the other 5 sestiere of Venice. In each, I will give you a quick overview of the sestiere. Then I will cover where to stay and where to eat in that sestiere. If there is something else that I think you need to know of that sestiere, I’ll include that, too.

Here is the simple map similar to the one I included in the article on the sestiere of San Marco.

This map presents a rather modest view of the six sestiere. I say 'modest' because this map just cannot characterize the world that it represents and that awaits will have to experience it on your own.

You will note that the map includes the Giudecca island, which is not actually one of the six official sestiere. Further, not all maps show the same delineations for the sestiere. For instance, some show the Giudecca to be part of Dorsodouro. While others show that orange, polygonal island at the eastern end of Giudecca (the island on which the church of San Giorgio Maggiore sits) to be part of the sestiere of San Marco. For our purposes, we will use the delineations shown in the map above as we work through the sestiere.

Finally, understand that there are many, many islands in the Venetian lagoon (around 117 it is estimated) that are not considered to be within the districts of Venice – islands like Murano (glass), Burano (lace and colorful homes) and San Michele (dead people).

I'm wondering if you remember what the six sestiere and Giudecca have to do with the accouterments of a Venetian gondola. If not, you can review that in the San Marco sestiere article

Here is a rather different view of the six sestiere of Venice…this in the form of a Google maps satellite view. I want you to see this to see just how large the municipality of Venice is.

Venice is quite huge. Note just how many buildings there are. From east-to-west, Venice is about 3 miles, while north-to-south, it is just shy of 2 miles. Within these six square miles you will find 409 bridges crossing over the 177 canals that divide Venice into 117 islands. 

And in this detail view below, you can see churches, gardens, pozzi, restaurants, boats, canals and bridges. 

There are places you will never see as you stroll Venice, as they are kept hidden behind walls and locked doors, like the one of which I wrote here. In Venice, intrigue abounds now as it has for centuries!

You've seen our favorite sestiere of San Marco, so tune in next week when we visit our second most-favorite sestiere, San Polo.

Ciao for now,


ps:  The Berlin Foto Biennale is now over. If you missed the significance of that exhibit this past fall, please see my previous article here

A Sense of Place

Index of Blog Articles

Well, I'm back from a bit of traveling: England, Scotland, Ireland, Texas and New Mexico. I'm ready to resume my blog articles for you. But, I'll be working my way in slowly with a short article today.

Her response: “Now you tell me!” Well, yes, now she knows.

This week I'm just letting you know about a change I've made to my list of blog articles, and why I've done that.

Last Thursday, I was visiting with a friend who had just returned from Italy. She expressed a bit of disappointment in some of the restaurants they chose in Venice. I let her know of my Italy Our Italy blog and the fact that it contains personally evaluated and recommended restaurants, hotels, and other helpful information on certain places within Italy. Her response: "Now you tell me!" Well, yes, now she knows. And I want you to know, too. That's why I've made changes to my list of blog articles.

What I have done is to take the Index of Blog Articles to another level by creating another series of headings in the right-hand column (which is labeled, "By Subject"). You will now find three new subheadings for 'places' within Italy -- specifically 'Places: Venice', 'Places: Amalfi Coast', and 'Places: Tuscany'. This will give one a greater sense of these wonderful places.

Now, if you are traveling to one of these fabulous places of Italy, you will have all of the resources that I have previously published about those fabulous places in one place. 

That about sums it up for today's very short article. 

Ciao for now,



The Results Are In -- Part 12

Index of Blog Articles

This one's kind of a big deal!

I am excited to let you know that I have been asked to participate in a large, international art show starting October 6th. This is a show that is held in a varying international venue every two years. This go-around is called the Berlin Foto Biennale. As you can undoubtedly tell, this current showing will be in Berlin.

This one’s kind of a big deal!

I was asked to participate because of my first place award in the 7th Annual International Pollux Awards. You may remember seeing that announcement back on July 14th of 2015. If you missed it, here is that announcement

The promoters of the showing provided an invitation for me to send to those who might be interested. Here is that invitation, which includes my three photos that will be featured in the Berlin show. 

If you happen to be in Berlin during October, consider this your invitation to attend so you can see this show featuring photographers from 41 countries. 

The photos that I will have in the show have been printed as 24"x36" prints, mounted on diBond. 

A just-returned-from two-week trip to the UK and Ireland prevent us from attending the opening vernissage and artists reception, but we will be there in spirit. [To save you the trouble of pulling out a dictionary, the term 'vernissage' refers to the night-before-opening showing of the photos for the artists' benefit]

As a regular reader of my articles, I thought you would like to know.


Ciao for now,


p.s. Well, at least one of the photos was taken in Italy! I'm sure you can guess which, by process of elimination.

Rome Tunnel Composite

Index of Blog Articles

I am on vacation at the moment in an undisclosed location (maybe my Instagram feed to the right will give it away). Meanwhile, here is a simple and kind of pointless composite of a couple of photos taken in Rome.

This tunnel attracted my attention as we were going to the Trevi Fountain in the evening. The tunnel is nice and gritty, just like a good bit of Rome.

This snazy sports car was captured outside their hotel by our traveling companions on this trip, the Kennedys.

Just for a bit of fun, I decided to put the car into the tunnel. 

I accomplished this with a bit of motion blur to give the car a speed boost (from 0 to 60 in an instant). Then did some color toning to duplicate the ambient light of the tunnel. And as one shouldn't drive at night with headlights off (yes, even in Italy), I added headlights and light beams.

Here is the result.

Kind of goofy way to kill time, but that's it for today. And if you need me to turn on your headlights, just let me know.


Ciao for now,



Covering for Friends

Index of Blog Articles

I'm happy that friends have asked me to cover for them. I did. And it was fun!

I’d be glad to cover for you too, should you need it

I'm talking about book and CD covers, by the way. My friend an author, Diana Armstrong asked me to do the cover art for her new book, "A Winding Path to Umbria: The Silent Bridge of Time". As well, my nephew, Ben Johnson, asked be to do the art for his CD titled "Handcrafted Peace" an album of piano music that he composed. Here's the story of each.

A Winding Path to Umbria

Diana G Armstrong is a gifted friend and author who lives in both Denver and Italy. She and her husband David have a beautifully charming home in Lubriano, Italy. Much of that charm comes from the fact that their abode is part of a converted, 400-year-old monastery. In her first book, "Somewhere South of Tuscany: 5 Yeas in a Four-Cat Town" (2010), Diana tells the story of how they came upon, purchased, and renovated their home is a sleepy, four-cat town. 

Diana's second book is a bit of a departure, in that it is a story of historical fiction; the historical part having a very close tie to her past and her Lubriano home -- both of which she learned were intertwined. 

Here is a photo that I took from Diana's window, where she often sits to write. 

That little village, isolated atop a table of rock, is Civita. Note the pedestrian bridge leading to Civita...this bridge plays an important part in the story that she writes.

Diana had admired her view for years before she found out the significance to her family. Recently, she uncovered the fact that her South African father, 70 years earlier, was here, too. He fought with the allies in this Calanchi Valley against the mighty German war machine. How could an author not write about such a connected event!

When Diana first asked me to do the cover art for her book, my thoughts went to the intrigues of battle and dark nights, where allies crept up on Germans ensconced in this hill top fortress. So, I began my book cover imaginings there...with a paperback cover of the traditional size.

I cropped the photo that I taken from Diana's window into a format that I imagined for a paperback novel. Here is my first imagining. 


As I was imagining a night-time scene, here is where my imaginings took me.


Operating in the dead of night could be risky in the days before night vision goggles, so we needed a moon to give our troops a bit of maneuvering light.

I can just see them sneaking through the trees, ready to scale those cliffs, can't you?

I created a bit of moonlight reflecting off of the rooftops.

All we need now is some text for the book title and author's name.

Ahhh, not to be.

When I woke up from my imaginings and actually met with Diana to discuss the book and its book cover, it turns out that the bridge leading to Civita is a central figure in the artifact that just had to have prominence on the cover. So, it was time for me to change my imaginings and it was back to the drawing board. We needed a completely different view of Civita.

Here is a photo that we settled on that would give the town prominence, while also showing the Calanchi Valley through which the allies operated, and all the while, showing the bridge to Civita front-and-center. 

We worked through several iterations of color, artistic effect and cropping..."should we show this much of the bridge? or this much? or how about this much?"

I began to use my 'digital brushes' to create various artistic, painted effects.

With about two-dozen images to chose from, here is the final result that satisfied both Diana and her publisher.

And here is that photo, sitting right, smack, dab on the cover of Diana's new book. 

If you click on the cover of her book, you will be taken to the Amazon website, where you can order either a paperback version, or a Kindle version. Go ahead...give it a try.

Understand that all proceeds for this book and Diana's previous book go to underprivileged African children. Funds go to both her daughter's mission that now works with Living Hope Charities in East London, S.Africa, and also to a Hospice for Children (mostly born with Aids) in Durban South Africa. Diana says that money from the US makes a huge difference in Africa.


And here is the link to Diana's previous book about her lovely, little community, "Somewhere South of Tuscany: Five Years in a Four-Cat Town". 


Oh, one more you like to eat? or cook? Then you will just love Diana's first book -- its a cookbook. It is called "Cooking for My Friends". I know that she knows what she is writing about, because we have been fortunate to be friends for whom she has cooked. 

Handcrafted Peace

On a gentle, musical note, my nephew Ben Johnson, is a very talented piano player and composer. Ben's aim is to create music that is just plain peaceful. Saint Benjamin (his new moniker -- not a saint of the dead variety, but a saintly work in progress) wanted to create something that you can listen to that will a release you of all of the negative thoughts of the day. He succeeded. 

When Ben contacted me, he had spent time looking at photos on my alternate website, Steve Burkett Photography. He felt that certain photos in the Winter Solace gallery met his vision of 'peaceful'.

Here is the original photo that he asked me to work into the cover art for his CD.

I took this photo in the spring of 2013 in eastern Colorado as I returned from a trip to Virginia. 


After just a bit of work to add contrast to the image, I arrived at this next iteration.



Obviously, a CD cover-insert needs to be in a square format. And, as Ben wanted something in the black & white vein, we settled on this photo for his 'Handcrafted Peace' CD.

If you click on the CD cover photo, you will be taken to Ben's website, where you can listen to his peaceful music, and even purchase a copy if you wish. 


Ben's latest project is creating music that conjures up visions of the emojis you've seen in your texts. Want to hear what an emoji sounds like? Go here to hear his drafts, including this emoji for a slice of pizza. Who would have thought?



So, that's how I've spent a bit of my time -- covering for my very talented friends. I'd be glad to cover for you too, should you need it.


Ciao for now,