Photo Essay: The Lakes, Mountains, and Villages of Northern Italy

I just returned from Italy a few weeks ago and my trip reminded me of an important belief that is central to our little community. And that belief is simple: happy and healthy people have a better chance to improve the world than anyone else.

During my trip, I was hit with the worst case of food poisoning that the rolling hills of Italy have ever seen. (Possibly an exaggeration, but it was ugly.)

I write a lot about health — and don’t get me wrong, I love exercising, eating tasty food, and mastering my mental and physical habits — but at the end of the day, being healthy isn’t the end goal of life. Rather, being healthy allows you to participate in life.

I spent a few days shivering in bed on this trip, but once I recovered, I was twice as happy to hike the mountains, walk the streets, and sail the waters of Northern Italy. And that experience reminded me that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you don’t have your health and happiness, then it’s difficult to create meaningful work, help others, or merely sit back and enjoy a vacation.

My hope is that as time rolls on, both you and I can maximize our health and happiness, not merely to because “it’s good to be healthy,” but because it provides us with the opportunity to participate in life, create things of value, and make the world a happier place.

And with that said, the images in this photo essay are from Northern Italy. As always, all photos are my own.

Northern Italy Photos

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A couple overlooks Verona from the top of Torre dei Lamberti. (Verona, Italy)


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A man leaves the Como Cathedral and walks across Piazza Duomo. (Como, Italy)


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Two children play in front of the Palazzo Forti. (Verona, Italy)


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Water flows beneath Ponte Pietra, the famous bridge in Verona. (Verona, Italy)


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The sun sets behind the famous lakeside mansion, Villa Balbianello. (Lago di Como, Italy)


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The afternoon sun lights up the small village of Lezzeno. (Lezzeno, Italy)


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A young boy rides his bike back home for the evening. (Santa Maddalena, Italy)


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A storm brews behind the Dolomites. (Santa Maddalena, Italy)


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A woman pauses to look down into the valley. (Santa Maddalena, Italy)


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An older man rides his bike through the alley. (Como, Italy)


  1. Great pictures James! I really like how you framed the capacity you can build for embracing life and fully participating in each moment by living happy and healthy along the way.

    Sorry to hear about your bad luck with food, happened to me on my Australia trip in 2005!

    My favorite picture is the one of the kids playing football. You should submit to the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest!

    Talk later. Take action.

  2. Hi James, I got to go to Como for a healing conference of Network Spinal Analysis with its creator, Dr. Donald Epstein. It is a magical place and you certainly caught the essence of it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. The photo make me want to buy a plane ticket – right now! Thank you for sharing.

    At one time, getting healthy was my only goal because I was in so much pain all the time. I know what it’s like not to be able to enjoy anything, and I am determined to always stay healthy. That means I have to say no a lot! No cake, no fries, no to activities with other people so I can exercise every day. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes me a much better person to visit with when I take care of my health first.

  4. What a great idea to connect these gorgeous images to good health. Their lack of a healthy life style is the main thing that separates many loved ones and friends from the things they might like to do. We’ll be damned if we let the same happen to us!! Thanks for sharing the fantastic images, James!

  5. Wow: just loved this photo essay and love the pictures too.

    Overall your site is great and look forward to reading articles written by you.

    Great work, James.

    • Thanks Russ!

      I just used a long exposure when I took the picture of the bridge. That means the shutter on the camera was open for a few seconds before closing. (I had to use a tripod to keep the camera steady while it was recording the photo.)

  6. You have such an astounding gift for capturing the magnificence of your subjects – Whether it be landscapes, buildings, or people!

    My favorites are the boys playing ball, and the older *man on a bike. (* it makes me think of perseverance: peddling uphill, isolated, in a narrow black and white world…and yet that black and white world is both beautiful and interesting. I find it quite soulful and moving.)

    Thank you for so generously sharing your many, many talents!

  7. Breath-taking! I feel as if I had joined you for this trip. Your gift for seeing the essence of things, people, and of our state of mind is treasured and appreciate by all of us with whom you share. Thanks!

    • I’m glad you feel like you joined me, D. That’s my goal — to share what it’s like to be that person or stand in that place.

      I’m looking forward to sharing more photos in the future!

    • Thanks Nancy! It’s great to hear that.

      I appreciate you taking the time to look them over. I’m looking forward to sharing more images and ideas in the future!

  8. Those are some amazing pictures. My favorite was the water flowing by the bridge in Verona. I never knew that Italy was such a beautiful place. I really enjoyed these pictures. Thanks!

  9. Hello James,

    Astonishing photos, indeed. Congratulations! Just wanted to let you know that you have at least one enthusiastic fan in Hungary, and I’m really grateful for your meaningful writings. As a coach, I really enjoy sharing your ideas where appropriate! So please, keep writing. :)


  10. Awesome photos. I love Italy. I was there in September of last year. Can’t wait to go back. I really want to ski the Dolomites.

  11. I think you are really talented for taking photos! I love your works. This is my first comment, but your other works here are really life-changing. Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas and tips!

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