Itinerary: Tuscany Workshop

In Search of the Personal – Photographing Southern Tuscany

Saturday, June 5 to Saturday, June 12, 2010

General Daily Itinerary

The bridge to Civitá di Bagnoreggio

Day 1/Day 4         Saturday, June 5    MEET IN ROME, TRANSFER TO SOUTHERN TUSCANY

We will meet in the lobby of the hotel at  (8:00) and transfer to Pienza, our base for the week.   On the way to the property, 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.  Stoll, explore, and photograph the town for a couple of hours.  We’ll then stop for lunch before we continue on to Pienza.

Then we’ll move on to our base for the week, Il Chiostro di Pienza, where you’ll settle in and explore the grounds.  If you’d like, have a glass of wine before dinner as we get to know one another.  We’ll then enjoy a traditional Tuscan dinner, prepared for us at the hotel, review the program, and prepare for our first full day tomorrow.

Small group field instruction with Jeff:

  • Group A:  10:30 to 12:30.

Day 2/ Day 5         Sunday, June 6

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.  Bagno Vignoni is famous for its thermal baths. It was popular with the Romans (and probably the Etruscans) and rose to prominence again during the Middle Ages because of the proximity of the Via Francigena, the north-south pilgrimage route through the Italian peninsula. The ancient square pool

Castiglione d'Orci

at the center of the town is no longer in public use, but the scene is extremely attractive, with old stone buildings surrounding the pool on all sides.

Castiglione d’Orcia there are marvelous views from the Rocca (castle) over the Val d’Orcia. We’ll also stop in  Murlo, an ancient Etrucscan gated village.   We’ll then head back to Pienza at about 3:00, where you can download images and relax a bit.

Before dinner, enjoy an extremely interesting

talk by Maria Elena Torchio, an expert in all things Sienese.  This will help set the stage for our day in Siena tomorrow.  We’ll then enjoy dinner together in Pienza.

Small group field instruction with Jeff

  • Group B  9:00- 11:00
  • Group C  11:15-1:15 or so

Day 3/Day 6                  Monday, June 7

Siena, Tuscany

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 Il Chiostro at about 3:30, where we will download, edit, and critique images.

Tonight dinner will be at Il Rossellino, a very

small and wonderful place in the center of Pienza.

The Proprietors of Il Rossellino
  • Group A  9:30-11:30
  • Group B  12:00-2:00

Day 4/Day 7                  Tuesday, June 8

We’ll begin the day with a very early breakfast and 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 diSant’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.

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; perhaps you would enjoy a visit the 14th-century fortezza, and drop in to the Enoteca la Fortezza wine-tasting shop which is located under the fort.  After time photographing there, we will then proceed to Castello Banfi for wine tasting and lunch at their excellent taverna.

  • Group C  7:30-9:00
  • Group A  Montalcino visit

After a wonderful lunch, and maybe a nap on the bus, we’ll be back at the hotel for images/critiquing.

Ernello, Pecorino Cheese Maker

Day 5/Day 8                  Wednesday, June 9

Breakfast followed by a later departure from the villa (about 10:00).  We will proceed to one of the highest hilltowns, 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 head into the countryside to visit Ernello, a pecorino cheese producer and learn about cheese production, followed by a light lunch consisting of pecorino cheese, salami, salads, bruschetta made with Ernello’s extra virgin olive oil.

From here, we will venture to the beautiful estate of La Foce, for a tour of the gardens in the late afternoon/early evening.  Dinner on the road, perhaps in Monticchiello, then back to Pienza.

  • Group B  Montepulciano visit
  • Group C  La Foce visit
Orvieto, Umbria

Day 6/Day 9                          Thursday, June 10

Enjoy a day trip to the city of Orvieto, located in southwest Umbria.  This majestic hill top town is dramatically situated on a plateau of tufa, volcanic rock.  The city center is free of car traffic, which greatly adds to its appeal.  Orvieto possesses a magnificent cathedral with endless photographic opportunities; it is a masterpiece of gothic architecture with its multi-colored marble inlays and dazzling mosaics.  A unique series of man-made underground passages form almost another city beneath Orvieto.  An intricate labyrinth of tunnels, galleries, cisterns, wells, quarries and cellars made it possible to preserve both solid and liquid provisions, including wine, which was vital to the survival of a hilltop settlement.

  • Group A  1 hour
  • Group B  1 hour
  • Group C  1 hour
Some of the staff at Il Chiostro, our home in Pienza

After this, return to Il Chiostro to download images and critique our work.  We’ll have dinner in Pienza later this evening.

Day 7/Day 10                  Friday, June 11

We’ll focus on our work at the Chiostro today.  Free morning to do 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 thirty best images from the week.  Final critique and dinner at the hotel.

Day 8/Day 11                  Saturday, June 12

After saying our final goodbyes, we’ll depart for Rome after an early breakfast.  We’ll either take you to Fiumicino Airport or to the city, depending on your plans.

Workshop Photographers in Action
Workshop Students in Action - 2009

Course Description

In Search of the Personal: Jeff’s Course Description

Workshop Full! – Plans in process for 2010!

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How do photographers develop a personal style? When – and how – can a photographer begin to establish a direction in his or her work? Perhaps most importantly, what makes a photograph become a “personal” statement?italy_evidence1_23

We will work though a variety of strategies to help us tap into that creative part of our photographic selves. Through lots of image making, a blend of  formal and field instruction and plenty of time for discussion and critique, we will work to uncover themes and lines of vision that may not have been previously evident to you.

And we’ll do it in Tuscany!

There are few places on earth like Tuscany. Its landscape is the landscape painted by the great artists of the Renaissance. Its architecture is known for its sense of proportion, beauty and attention to minute detail. Its people are distinctive, friendly and resilient. Its food presents simple flavors with extraordinary precision and grace.  Its light is soft, enveloping and revealing. This experience will allow you to experience Tuscany’s remarkable culture, people, landscape and hill towns and work towards a personal photographic response to the Tuscan sense of place. I will push you to go beyond the picturesque and help you discover your own response to the texture, rhythm and spirit of Tuscany.wrkshp-web_-34

We will divide our photographic time between rural and urban locations and everything in between. There will be big towns that hustle and bustle and villages so small that fewer than two dozen people reside there and time has stood still. We’ll photograph churches set in remote landscapes and cathedrals perched on the highest point of the hilltop towns. Twisting roads lined with cypress, endless fields dotted with the colors of spring wildflowers and gems of architecture will spread out before our cameras. You will meet – and photograph – Tuscan artisans who make wine, cheese and olive oil. You will learn about Tuscan art, culture and history. Some mornings, we’ll be up early to catch morning light; some evenings, dinner will wait while we catch the last rays of the sun. Our driver will get us to the right places at the right time for the right light.

wrkshp-web_-3Because we will work with digital photographic equipment, we’ll be counting on its rapid feedback and we will be able to critique our images individually and via digital projection as a group. 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 12 photographers in order to ensure the best level of personal instructional attention. This is an intermediate-level photographic experience; you should have at least three years experience making photographs, have a basic understanding of photographic processes and technology and should be comfortable using a digital SLR camera in manual mode. Non-photographer companions are welcome and warmly invited to attend.  We have planned several experiences specifically for them, many times in conjunction with the photographers.  If there is no specific mention of an activity for companions, they are invited to join the photographers in visiting the destination of the day and explore independently (e.g., Day 4 – Sant’Antimo and the Gardens) or relax at Casa Cornacchi.italy_color_020

All work and no relaxation is certainly not the Tuscan way, so we’ll have plenty of time to relax, reflect and, of course, eat. Mealtime is a very important part of the Italian culture so of course we will dine on amazing local foods and wines. We have arranged great meals in a variety of wonderful places and you can be assured that we will eat well.

The beautiful Casa Cornacchi will act as our home, our classroom and our place to unwind. My expert travel planner Rosanne and I have chosen this great location because it is both beautiful and functional. We’ll have the main house all to ourselves, so we can spread out, our group can relax; critiques and discussions can happen in the Casa’s beautifully appointed rooms, in the courtyard or poolside.

You will depart for home with great memories, a new set of friends and of course a set of beautiful photographs that will help point the way towards your own personal style.


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