Art I by

Seth Vane shoots Italy’s hidden courtyards

Milan gets a bad rap for being a gritty, industrial city. But venture down alleyways and into its quiet courtyards and you’ll be rewarded. The Italian city is filled hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered.

These piazzas are the subject of photographer Seth Vane’s mesmerising series, Tunnels to the sky, which captures perfect symmetry of these enclosed spaces and the peaceful reverie they inspire.

Italian courtyards series, Tunnels to the Sky by Seth Vane.
Roman courtyard. Photography: Seth Vane

Vane – who worked as a photojournalist in his home city Sofia before relocating to Italy in 2011 – happened upon them by pure luck.

‘I was trying to take the portrait of a chef who was on his cigarette break, but he ran off before I could get the shot,’ he says. Hurrying after him, Vane found himself in an enclosed courtyard, surrounded on all sides by the vertical planes of a grand Milanese building.

He didn’t get the portrait, but he did turn his lens on the sharp geometry of the piazza, replete with towering windows stretching up to the sky.

Italian courtyards series, Tunnels to the Sky by Seth Vane.
Genoa courtyard. Photography: Seth Vane

‘It was like it was meant to be photographed,’ he says. ‘It fit perfectly with my 2×3 composition.’

On subsequent trips through Rome, Venice and his adopted city of Genoa, he replicated his experiment by turning off his GPS and relying on serendipity to help him discover more peaceful pockets.

‘I really enjoyed that feeling of being completely lost – and of discovering these spaces by accident. Coming from Sofia, it is uncommon to be completely surrounded by architecture in this way. These buildings look so complete.’

You can follow Seth’s adventures in his new city of Toronto via Instagram.

Read next: Gina Soden captures the beauty of Europe’s derelict buildings



Share Tweet