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Family Adventure in Italy – Switzerland Family Adventure Photographer

Last month, after surviving the ordeal of moving house in Switzerland, I became desperate for a vacation during my kids’ school holidays.  Unfortunately, due to lack of planning and lack of funds (both due to previously mentioned move of house), we found ourselves without a destination or reservation just three days before we wanted to leave. What we did have was a strong desire to get out of town and the knowledge and resources of a fantastic group of international moms on whom I constantly rely for information and support. With gratitude to this amazing Facebook group for a long list of ideas, my hubs and I hunkered down with our laptops that night, but found flights too expensive and only two hotels with available rooms within driving distance to a warm location.  We gambled on the less expensive hotel, booked our room and off we drove to sunny Italy, after a scramble to find all our swimming and summer things still packed in moving boxes.

Our first stop was the St. Bernard Pass connecting the Swiss and Italian borders.  Traveling up and over the pass was a new experience for me as my first time to Italy last year we took the tunnel.  I highly recommend the pass – it added only 30 minutes to our trip and allowed us to park and stretch our legs (and use the restroom and take some pictures) in an amazing and geographically interesting location.  There is also a sweet church there and the famous St-Bernard hospice where the dogs are bred and spend the summer.  We were too late in the year getting there to spend time with the dogs, but will plan on doing so on our next trip. St Bernard passOn the far side of the lake in the photo below (in Italy), on the left side is the fantastic Restaurant du Lac, which serves delicious and affordable food April through mid-October.Italian alps

Next time I think we will make the pass itself (and maybe Martigny or Aosta) our destination.  There are plenty of activities and hikes to keep a family busy for an entire day.

After an all-you-can-eat sushi lunch in Aosta, we traveled on to our destination – the beautiful Sestri Levante.  True to form, before we even checked into our hotel, we drove to the water. This rush to the sea has become an important family tradition – the way we begin any beach vacation.

After a tour of the beach on the seaside, we made our way to our hotel, the lovely Hotel Villa Agnesa.  I can’t say enough about this small boutique hotel.  There is a good-sized heated outdoor pool, generous morning buffet serving vegan and gluten-free options, attentive staff and beautiful grounds. The only downside of the hotel were smallish rooms and beds, but we were more than pleased on balance. Villa Agnesa Sestri LevanteSwitzerland family photographerWe headed back downtown to walk and choose a dinner location.  I can really understand why so many Americans dream of going to Italy.  The people are friendly, the food is incredible and offers so many choices beyond pizza and pasta (although those are good too) and the weather doesn’t disappoint.  I love the laid-back vibe, especially as a tonic for Swiss life, which can feel very restricting at times.Italian street cafe at nightitalian street at nightSwitzerland family photographerIn the past when my kids were younger, I avoided making any plans for myself since I was inevitably disappointed when baby/toddler/small child needs took precedence. Now that my younger kids are eight and 12, they can hike a fair distance, stay at the beach all day without napping, and stay up late.  Because of this, I’ve started choosing one activity for myself that I insist upon.  This trip it was hiking the Punta Manara. This hike takes you above Sestri Levante to the ruins of a tower.  On the way you enjoy amazing vistas, cool olive groves and forests and quaint Italian farmsteads.Punta ManaraPunta ManaraPunta Manaraview of Sestri LevanteSestri Levante also has a vibrant Saturday market and a regional architectural proclivity for faux facade painting that is quite interesting. We found the same phenomenon in Cinque Terre, Portofino and Rapallo. Next day, we boarded an early train for the northernmost Cinque Terre village of Monterosso al Mare. Although the Cinque Terre is extremely touristic, I found the two towns we visited to be just busy enough in October to be alive, but not overcrowded. The beaches were nearly deserted, even though my kids and husband reported the water to be approximately the temperature of Lac Leman in July and August. The images speak for themselves in terms of both the natural beauty and the quaint appeal of these towns. After spending some time in Monterosso, we took a boat to Vernazza for just a couple of hours and then took the train back to Monterosso for late afternoon swimming and dinner (and gelato after, of course!). Then we took the train back to Sestri Levante.  One caution when using the train in Italy.  Unlike Swiss rail, our train didn’t have any interior displays of approaching stops nor verbal announcements.  This is fine during the day when you can look out the window and read the name of the station at which you are stopped, but it proved to be difficult at night and we ended up following along with a Google map and counting stops.yellow apartment buildingDreaming of restoring abandoned real estate in Italy – a sure sign that I have fallen in love with a place.  Check out that penthouse rooftop terrace!italian newsstandtrain stationSwitzerland family photographerItaly Cinque TerreThis might be the most special travel photo I’ve every taken!Italy Cinque TerreSwitzerland family photographerVernazza from the boatItalian street sceneItalian street cafeand…back on the train to Monterosso….Italy train stationbeach in ItalySwitzerland family photographerMediterranean Sea sunsetSwitzerland travel photographerItaly beach at nightMore pool time next daycanon 6d double exposureSwitzerland family photographerWe checked out of our hotel happy but sad (as my kids like to say) and headed home by way of Rapallo and Portofino, all the while hearing fantastic stories from my husband about his adventures in this area during his 20s. We stopped for more all you can eat sushi in Rapallo and a walk by the sea.and then headed to Portofino. The drive was gorgeous and Portofino is itself very lovely, but I found it  profoundly overcrowded, especially for the fall and the relaxed vibe of Italy was a bit ruined by the crowds and the jostling of tourists.  We walked a bit and had an ice cream and then headed for home.Switzerland family photographyPortofinoCinque Terrelandscape double exposureSwitzerland family photographerIn spite of our last minute (lack of) planning, I’m so happy we went on this trip and ecstatic to have found Sestri Levante.  We hardly ever go a second time to somewhere we’ve been before, but I have a feeling we’ll return to this lovely little city. I hope you enjoyed my travel journal from Italy.  Ciao!!! xxoo Kate.

        I am now selling prints and canvases of any of my travel, nature and landscape images!  Just pick an image from here or Instagram and send me an email with your choice – kate@katecphotography.com. Although I don’t have a one-click store yet, I promise it will be easy!  Until I am ecommerce-ready, I am offering 20% off any product order for newsletter subscribers.

Just fill out the form at the top of this page and enjoy the savings.

Kate Cuénoud is a family adventure and travel photographer and photo editor based in the Lake Geneva / Lac Leman region of Switzerland.

woollykindknits - A.MAZ.ING! What an incredible adventure – exquisitely captured as always! I feel warmer now. Thank you! xoxo

Tamara - Whoa, those are some AMAZING pictures! Thank you for taking me on an imaginary trip, I needed this today 🙂

Annie - Wow, these are amazing. I really like the pictures outside the aragosta d’oro restaurant. The tunnel image… Oh fantastic!

Joan - I enjoy traveling thru you to these great little towns and seeing what Italy has to offer. Happy for the kids that they have these experiences in them. Thanks for making my day and your descriptive way with words and photos. The color and shading of beautiful content in nature and culture warms my heart. So happy for my girlfriend❣️‍

Hanka - I´ve just added this area to our bucket list. Looks amazing and your photos are pretty awesome! Would you mind if I pinned few of your snaps to Pinterest?

Kate - Hi Hanka! Feel free to pin whatever you like and I appreciate proper credit and tagging. Thank you so much. You will love this place! xxoo Kate.

Hayley - Beautiful location and I love how you document such stunning scenery and family time, bravo!

Into Something Better – Apples, Vaud, Switzerland – November, 2017 » Kate Cuénoud Photography - […] house last month and traveling to Italy caused me to miss the October edition of this global blog circle, and miss it I did!  All month […]

Project 365 Week 43 – Switzerland Family Adventure Photographer

I am going to show Week 42 (also known as Italy Week) in a hot minute, but first here is Week 43 (also known as Finally Getting Closer to End).  Enjoy!

Switzerland travel photographerStanding really, really high above the ground.  Still, it’s all about the shoes, isn’t it?  Annecy, FranceSwitzerland travel photographerAn in-camera double exposure of the mountains with some amazing fall color.  Prangins, SwitzerlandSwitzerland family photographerFinally, some pictures from our new apartment.  Now that we have gone beyond boxes and mattresses on the floor.  She is 12, but still loves her stuffies, dollies and Playmobil.  St-Prex, SwitzerlandSwitzerland travel photographerAutumn in the vineyards is something to behold.  Freelensed.  Perroy, SwitzerlandSwitzerland family photographerWhile sister played soccer, he made six francs washing the car.  And those socks – most photogenic socks ever! Gland, SwitzerlandSwitzerland family photographerAnd his new room.  Can’t officially be moved in somewhere until the skulls are hanging on the wall.  St-Prex, SwitzerlandSwitzerland family photographerView from the new terrace.  Sunset in St-Prex, Switzerland

Kate Cuénoud is a family adventure and travel photographer and photo editor based in the Lake Geneva / Lac Leman region of Switzerland.


Project 365 Month 10 – Switzerland Family Adventure Photographer

It seems every time I post about this project it’s to excuse myself for being late.  Oh, how I love to hate this project!  Seriously, I probably never should have taken it on, but I have loved producing so much work every week and I’m sure at the end I will have all kinds of insights into my process and improvements in my photo making skills.  I am looking forward to looking back (see what I did there?) and reflecting at the END!  I am now in the final quarter of the year, thank the stars above.  I hope you enjoy the images I have published so far this year.  There is much more to come!  If you subscribe to my (very unspammy) newsletter over there ———> I will soon send you a lovely end of year discount on prints and canvases.  Don’t forget, I am still offering a 50% discount on sessions booked before the end of the year for newsletter subscribers. Let’s get something on the books together!  xxoo Kate.

Kate Cuénoud is a family adventure and travel photographer and photo editor based in the Lake Geneva / Lac Leman region of Switzerland.

Into Something Better – Orbe, Switzerland September, 2017

I am so fortunate to be part of an amazing online community of English-speaking mothers here in Switzerland.  Through that group, I can find just about any resource that I need or want, including recommendations for travel and local adventure.   A few weeks ago, a local blogger named Dada KS recommended an excursion to the Saut du Day, a gorgeous waterfall and collection of still pools which we accessed by hiking by a military base, through a forest, over a suspension bridge and through a tunnel.  It was worth it to see this majestic site and capture images of my family there.  We explored and paddled around (the water was COLD!) and after hiking out, we found a forest refuge as we usually do and ended the day with more walking, a fire and a lovely meal. These autumn days are so fleeting, we take the opportunity to spend them outside while we can. Although this year, I imagine that we will keep going through the winter and spring.  Last weekend, we visited American friends visiting France and this weekend we are moving.  Just two weekends of not being in the forest, and I already feel the void.

This is the September edition of the international blog circle that celebrates families in nature.  The group was created to provide an escape from technology for our children and an opportunity for mothers who are photographers to use the technique of freelensing during these adventures. On any given Sunday, you will find my husband and myself with our two little kids somewhere in nature.  Most often, we are in the forest.

Sleeping In The Forest
by Mary Oliver
I thought the earth remembered me,
She took me back so tenderly
Arranging her skirts
Her pockets full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before
A stone on the riverbed,
Nothing between me and the white fire of the stars,
But my thoughts.
And they floated light as moths
Among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
Breathing around me.
The insects and the birds
Who do their work in darkness.
All night I rose and fell,
As if water, grappling with luminous doom.
By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times
Into something better.

Switzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerSwitzerland family photographerPlease click through to Olympia, Washington and feast your eyes on Anna Larson’s gorgeous contribution to this month’s circle, and then follow the circle around.  I appreciate all of your support and encouragement!  xxoo Kate.

Kate Cuénoud is a family adventure and travel photographer and photo editor based in the Lake Geneva / Lac Leman region of Switzerland.


woollykindknits - Staggeringly beautiful as always, Kate! Good luck today!! xoxox

Barb Toyama - Wow what a gorgeous spot Kate! I love the scale of the large, majestic landscape alongside of all the tiny details. That little mushroom closeup is magical! An adventure captured beautifully as always.

Dada - I am so glad you guys liked it at the Saut du Day! Your photos are gorgeous as usually! Keep enjoy your family activities outdoor and let me know if you ever find a hidden gem nearby!❤️

Melissa L - What an incredible and majestic place you were able to travel to. Your images captured the beauty so perfectly. I feel like I just went there too after scrolling through all the vivid colors and lush scenery. It seems like a place from a far off land where fairies could live. the portraits of your children interspersed throughout were so lovely too.

Joan - The contrast of clarity in the pool of water to the fuzzy calls to me. The beauty of the moss,the flowing water,the symmetry of sister photos,your beautiful kids and your travelled feet…touch my heart.how I miss you❣️Thankyou for doing this.

Project 365 Week 38 – Switzerland Family Adventure Photographer

I admit I have been struggling with this project, which I wrote about last week. I continued to shoot through the pain, though, because…well…what else can a photographer do?  The only cure for a shooting slump is to keep shooting. I’m so glad I did, because this week I captured some of my favorite images of the year and now I have renewed confidence and energy and may have pushed myself to another level. In addition to these images, in the next couple days I’ll be publishing my contribution to September’s Into Something Better international blog circle project and those images are among my favorites since I joined the circle in May.  If you are curious about what an entire freelensed session looks like, you can go to my August post and then check back here in the next couple of days for September’s post.

I also recently announced a 50% discount on sessions booked before the end of 2017 for anyone signing up for my email newsletter.  Just use the sign up form to the right!  In my non-spammy newsletter, you will get previews of blog posts, access to discounts and specials and pro photography tips. I get the chance to connect more with those who are interested in my work, which I love.

So, without further ado, here are this week’s images!  Thank you for visiting and for coming back.  I really do appreciate your interest and support!  xxoo Kate.

boy standing by bat graffitiMy son on an ancient street.  There is a meringue in that sack 🙂 Freelensed.  Annecy, Francebridge castleWe spent the weekend in Annecy and on the way home stopped by the bridge that I have a seen a dozen times, but never stopped at.  You can see a freelensed version of both ends of the bridge on my Instagram page.  Pont de la Caille, Allonzier-la-Caille, France.

girl jumping with hair flyingWhen my big girl gives me just five minutes of her time, we end up with some fabulous images. St-Prex, Switzerlandstone bridge and streamAs my daughter prepared for her football game with her team, I explored this little stream by the woods. Freelensed. Prangins, Switzerland.kitchen gardenAnd several nights later I headed to the Château de Prangins to check out harvest time at the incredible kitchen garden. Freelensed.  Prangins, Switzerland.young boy in cornfield with golden lightMy golden boy at golden hour. Etoy, Switzerland

dome building at sunsetAllllmost, but not quite straight out of camera.  See what amazing light can do?  Geneva, Switzerland

Kate Cuénoud is a family adventure and travel photographer and photo editor based in the Lake Geneva / Lac Leman region of Switzerland.