View of St. Michael’s Abbey (Sacra di San Michele) the symbol of Piedmont Region of Italy, built between 983 and 987 on top of Mount Pirchiriano. The abbey is said to have inspired Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel “The Name of the Rose.” This photo was taken from the ancient Sentiero dei Franchi trail that traces the route of Charlemagne and his troops in 773 and is also featured in Eco’s book. Located in the Val di Susa (Susa Valley) St. Michael’s Abbey is also known as the Abbazia della Chiusa and is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. At first sight it looks as if the ancient monastery has grown out of the rocky spur on which it was built, so closely integrated are the rock and abbey.
This shot was taken with my new Nikon Z 7 mirrorless camera. I came to rely heavily on this camera while hiking on some pretty rugged Alpine trails on the border between France and Northwestern Italy. I tried to travel light on these trails and carried only a backpack, a titanium Gitzo tripod and the Nikon Z 7 with the Z 24-70mm lens. This setup made it much easier for me to hike the miles needed to get these photos. I really appreciated the lighter weight through my entire Italy trip. In Cinque Terre the Nikon Z 7 became the only camera other than my iPhone X that I could make it up and down the steep steps and hillsides with for extended periods of time. Thank goodness the Nikon Z 7 arrived a few days before my trip.
Here are a few of my first impressions of the Nikon Z 7. The dynamic range of the Nikon Z 7 seems equivalent to my Nikon D850 which is outstanding. The basic settings are the same so setting up the Z 7 was easy and very simple to use in the field. It’s just like my other Nikon bodies in terms of ease of use. Because I didn’t have a remote trigger for the Nikon Z 7 body having left so quickly after the camera arrived, I found myself using the 2-second self-timer shutter release setting for tripod landscape shots such as the one above at St. Michael’s Abbey. My only criticism of the Nikon Z 7 is that the self-timer setting did not stay when the camera was turned off. It reverted to Single shot shutter release mode. I found this a bit annoying having to change it back each time but I got used to it. When I shot in Continuous H (extended) shutter release mode the setting remained even when I turned off the camera. I assume this may be a bug that will be fixed with an update in the future. The only other problem I had was that the automatic switching between viewfinder and monitor mode stopped working even though it had worked correctly for the first few days. One day in Italy the shutter got stuck while I changed batteries and the date and time setting was lost. I reset it but never understood exactly why that had happened. That was when the automatic switching stopped working also. I will send it back to Nikon to have them take a look at it. But in general the camera was robust, did very well in extremely rainy weather and made taking photographs much easier because of its weight. I was very happy to have had it on this trip. More photos to come as I get them edited.
Panorama of Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy
Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy
View from Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy
Panorama of Torre della bell’Alda (Tower of the Beautiful Alda) and Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy, Piedmont Region, Italy
View of candles and 16th century fresco in the sanctuary of Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy
Window and light on column, Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy
Sunlight on stone coloumn in the Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy
View of the Sacra di San Michele Abby from Middle Ages trail of Sentiero dei Franchi trail, Piedmont Region, Northwestern Italy
View of St. Michael’s Abbey (Sacra di San Michele) from the Sentiero dei Franchi trail, Piedmont Region, Northwestern Italy
View of Condove near the Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy
The Great Staircase of the Dead at the Sacra di San Michele Abbey in Northwestern Italy. The steep staircase going from the entrance to the Zodiac gateway (Portale dello Zodiaco) goes by the name of Scalone dei Morti (Staircase of the Dead). This is because the bodies of dead monks were used to decorate the niches on either sides of the staircase. It is said that until recent times, skeletons of dead monks were still visible. Yikes!
Late afternoon sunlight shines through trees along the ancient Sentiero dei Franchi trail that traces the route of Charlemagne and his troops in 773, Northwestern Italy