In Search of the Personal: Photographing Southern Tuscany
Saturday August 2 to Saturday August 9, 2014 – Sold Out for 2014!
I will work with you as you edit your downloaded images to help you find your own personal sense of the places we’ll explore. Because the group will be shooting together and editing together, you will learn a lot from your fellow students as well.I have limited this experience to a maximum of 7 photographers in order to ensure the best level of personal instructional attention.
Day 1 Saturday, August 2 – Rome to Pienza
We will meet near the Pantheon in Rome at 9:00 a.m. and transfer to Pienza, our base for the week. On our way, we will stop in Civita (Drive is 84 km, will take about 1 hour, 50 minutes. Civita di Bagnoregio (now two towns due to erosion), one of the most impressive sights in the area. Dated back to the Etruscan period and partially rebuilt it in the medieval period, it is a little town where just 30 people live, with no cars or supermarkets. It requires a bit of a hike on foot, but it’s worth it. Stroll, explore, and photograph the town for a couple of hours. We’ll then stop for lunch at Il Fumatore before we continue on to Pienza.In Pienza, we’ll check in to our base for the week – the San Gregorio Residence Hotel, where you’ll settle in and explore the town of Pienza, just a few steps away. We’ll move on to a great restaurant nearby and have have a glass of wine in their garden before dinner as we get to know one another. We’ll then enjoy a traditional Tuscan dinner, review the program, and prepare for our first full day tomorrow.
Day 2 Sunday, August 3 – Pienza
Stay in Pienza today. After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll start by seeing the highlights of this important city with an expert guide. The tour will include an overview of the town by foot along the cobblestone streets, the Cathedral built by Rossellino between 1459-1462, the Piccolomini Palace with its collections of antique Furnishings, paintings and weapons, and a stop in the pecorino cheese shops lining the quaint streets.In the afternoon, you’ll be able to photograph as you’d like and get input from Jeff. Meet in the early evening for additional instruction and a casual dinner in town.
Meet for breakfast. We’ll then depart at 8:30 for a combination of visits to some or all of these these charming places (depending on time). San Quirico d’Orcia surprises at every turn of its medieval streets: stone archways, Gothic churches, the Romanesque-Gothic Collegiata and the Horti Leonini, a superb example of the Italian garden. The enormous garden opens into a wide perspective flight, the effect of which is helped by the perfectly geometrical beds of box hedge. In Castiglione d’Orcia there are marvelous views from the Rocca (castle) over the Val d’Orcia. Lunch at Pane e Companatico. Jeff and the driver know the area very well and will determine the specific itinerary at the time.
Day 4 Tuesday, August 6 – Siena
After an early breakfast, we will proceed to Siena, often referred to as Italy’s most beautiful hill town, with its enormous scalloped-shaped Campo, its marble black and white striped Duomo facade, and its superior placement on three ridges, offering beautiful vistas over this medieval city. You’ll break for lunch on your own, followed by more photography or time to explore the city independently; the choice is yours. We’ll return to Pienza at about 3:30, where we will download, edit, and critique images.Tonight dinner will be at one of my favorite restaurants in Pienza.
Breakfast and meeting followed by a late morning departure from our hotelWe will head into the countryside to visit an artisan cheesemaker, and learn about cheese production, followed by a light lunch consisting of pecorino cheese, salami, salads, bruschetta made with the estate’s extra virgin olive oil.We will then proceed to one of the highest Tuscan hill towns, Montepulciano. There are dozens of Renaissance palazzi and churches, odd-shaped squares and corners, and, of course, a Duomo to photograph. There are plenty of opportunities for tasting the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano at local cantinas as well.After we finish our time here, we will venture to the beautiful estate of La Foce , for a tour of the gardens in the late afternoon/early evening. This estate has a wonderful history. The Villa itself was built in the late 15th century as a hostel for pilgrims and merchants traveling on this busy road. In 1924 the property was bought by Antonio and Iris Origo, who dedicated their lives to bringing prosperity and cultural and social changes to this poverty-ridden land. During WW II, the Origos took care of many children whose parents sent them there from the north of Italy. Today the estate – a combination of woods, cultivated fields and olive groves – is run by the Origo daughters, Benedetta and Donata.Dinner in Pienza, at Il Terazzo Val d’ Orcia, which is just outside the city walls.
Day 6 Thursday, August 7 – Sant’Antimo and Brunello
We’ll begin the day with an early breakfast and an 8:00 departure in order to make the most of the unique properties of the early-morning light. After 40 minutes or so, we will arrive at the gorgeous Abbazia di Sant’Antimo, situated in magnificent solitude. One of the most beautiful Romanesque structures in Italy, Sant’Antimo provides endless photographic opportunities, both outside and inside (photography not allowed during services). If we are lucky, we’ll be able to hear the monks chanting, which occurs seven times per day.Proceed next to the Altesino Winery for a tour and tasting with a light lunch.Next, we will proceed to the town of Montalcino, a very well-heeled town, famous as the birthplace of the excellent Brunello di Montalcino wine, made entirely of the Sangiovese grape. You’ll have time on your own to explore; photographing the vistas from the top of the Fortezza is great, as is wandering the side streets of this austere but beautiful hilltown.
We’ll focus on our work at the Chiostro today. Free morning to enjoy and photograph Pienza as you’d like. After lunch on your own in town, download and edit images, and receive instruction in creating an audio slideshow of your best images from the week. Final critique and dinner together in Pienza.
After saying our goodbyes, we will transfer you to Florence, where you can continue your trip or fly or take the train to another destination.