In Search of the Personal – Photographing Southern Tuscany
Saturday, June 5 to Saturday, June 12, 2010
General Daily Itinerary
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
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
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.
- 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.
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
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
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.