By Erin Gannon, Special to OMC   Published Sep 05, 2007 at 5:25 AM

Italian photographer Guido Doria wants to take you on a scenic walk through the woods, over hills, passing streams and rice paddy fields.

More specifically, he wants to share his homeland’s depth of beauty through a black and white photo exhibition of Monferrato, a region in Italy’s northwestern region of Piedmont. Doria’s pride for his homeland and keen eye for capturing serenity with a lens is apparent in his collection, which will be on display in Bacchus restaurant’s solarium, 925 E. Wells St., Sept. 7-30 in an exhibition entitled “Monferrato in Bianco e Nero.” (Monferrato in Black and White.) 

Opening night of the free exhibition will include a Piemontese inspired reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., featuring music, a cash bar and appetizers; and, of course, first dibs on purchasing Doria’s photos. Those who cannot make the reception are welcome to view the exhibition during restaurant hours.

Doria, who is from Casale Monferrato, began taking photographs in 1997 using his father’s Konica 35 mm camera and his love for Monferrato as a starting point.  He credits his father for his abilities and acknowledges photographers Giuseppe Mangianti and Ansel Adams for their inspiration and Mangianti for his encouragement.

“For almost a decade I have dedicated myself to the splendor of Monferrato, ‘my’ beloved land, capturing and depicting the intimate details of the different seasons,” says Doria. “I have committed myself to creating an important gallery of works capable of transmitting the beauty, the emotion and the profound natural and cultural value of this land, which is so dear to me.”

The aesthetic appeal of black and white photos for Doria was both the challenge of visualizing the finished photograph and the freedom of expression.

“The lack of color removes the realism from the visual images and brings you closer to the sentimental content and the personal reason for capturing this image, widening it beyond the confines of the visible,” says Doria. “I hope the viewers feel the entire beauty of the landscape, the atmosphere and cultural history of Monferrato.”

Via e-mail, Doria explains that he steps away from the hurried and emotionless process of using digital photography and opts instead for a more traditional style. He prefers big format (4x5) and medium format (6x9) Linhof cameras, the best quality printing materials, and a lengthy time in the dark room with each photo. His meticulous approach has proven worthwhile, as his collection has gained popularity since its first appearance in May 2006.  Since that time, Doria has lent his photos to similar exhibitions in Poland, Italy and now Milwaukee. 

Collaboration between Doria, Monferrini in America president (and’s managing editor), Bobby Tanzilo, and director of strategic partnerships for the Bartolotta Restaurant Group, Jennifer Bartolotta, brings Monferrato to Milwaukee’s doorstep in the hopes of spurring interest in the tourist neglected region.

Tanzilo says, “I'm hoping that people will love the photos and buy them, of course, but also that it will encourage them to visit this part of Italy that is almost entirely ignored by American travelers.” 

As Doria’s photos depict, Monferrato consists of rolling farmland and access to the Po River, which provide not only visual charm, but also a Mecca for delicious wines.

Although Doria is not able to make the trip, Tanzilo will be on hand at the reception to answer questions from visitors.

Also keep in mind that 10 percent of proceeds from photo purchases will support Milwaukee Public Schools’ Italian Immersion Program. Funds will help immplement the program at the Milwaukee School of Langauges and aid in providing much needed support.