Daily Itinerary

In Search of the Personal:
Photographing Tuscany with Jeff Curto

Workshop Full! – Plans in process for 2010!

Saturday, May 16 to Saturday, May 23, 2009
Casa Cornacchi, Bucine, Arezzo, Italy

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Day 1 – Saturday, May 16 – Meet in Florence, Transfer to Casa Cornacchi

Photo courtesy of Casa Cornacchi

We will meet in Florence in the late morning and transfer to Casa Cornacchi. On the way to the property, we will stop in a typical small town in Chianti and have lunch. You’ll have a short time to stroll and explore the area on your own, perhaps taking a few photos, and then we’ll move on to your base for the week, Casa Cornacchi, where you’ll settle in and explore the grounds. If you’d like, have a glass of vino from the wine bar before dinner as we get to know one another. We’ll then enjoy a traditional Tuscan dinner, prepared specially for us at the villa with Mamma’s recipes, review the program, and prepare for our first full day tomorrow.

Day 2 – Sunday, May 17

Grapes in ChiantiMeet for breakfast. We will then depart the villa for Castelnuovo Berardenga, located between Chianti Classico and “crete senesi“, where you will have the opportunity to photograph in and around this town including the ruins of Castello dell’Aiola, which is reached by drawbridge over the now-dry moat. We’ll stop for lunch at a local establishment on the way back to the villa, and then the remainder of the day is yours to rest and relax. For our non-photography guests, enjoy a cooking class at the villa and then savor the fruits of your labor for lunch. Tonight we’ll head out for an enjoyable evening with dinner at an excellent trattoria away from “campus”, but still in the neighborhood.

Day 3 – Monday, May 18

Siena, TuscanyAfter 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. For the non-photography guests, enjoy a private city tour with an expert guide, then continue to explore on your own. The guide will first assist the photographers into gaining access to some unique places that most would not be able to get into independently. We’ll return to the villa mid-afternoon, where we will download, edit, and critique images. Tonight will be a very casual dinner–appetizers and pizzas prepared by a pizzaiolo in the Villa’s wood-burning ovens– with plenty of time for focusing on our images.

Day 4 – Tuesday, May 19


We’ll begin the day with a very early breakfast and departure at 6:30 am in order to make the most of the unique properties of the early-morning light. Our first stop will be 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). Next, we will proceed to a very unique setting, Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri. Mr. Spoerri is an eclectic contemporary artist who has worked as a dancer, choreographer, mime artist, poet and writer, and has lived in various places throughout the world. In Seggiano, he has created a sculpture park museum. The contemporary works of art, dotted around the 15-hectare park in an apparently random sequence blend in with their surroundings so well as to seem camouflaged. You will have the chance to photograph here. Following this, we will stop for a quick bite on the way back to the villa, where you will have time to work on downloading and critiquing the day’s images. This evening, we will enjoy tastings of locally produced wines and watch a local food demo at the villa, which we will then enjoy for dinner.

Day 5 – Wednesday, May 20

Montepulciano Winery, TuscanyAfter a leisurely breakfast, we will depart from the villa mid-morning and proceed to one of the highest hilltowns, Montepulciano, where we will meet up with our expert guide for the day. There are dozens of Renaissance palazzi and churches, odd-shaped squares and corners, and, of course, a Duomo to photograph. For the non-photographers, we will enjoy a tour of the town with an expert guide followed by a tasting of the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano at a local cantina. 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.

Pienza, TuscanyFrom here, we will depart for Pienza, for a walking tour with our guide of the charming village with its perfect Renaissance town center reconstructed at the direction of its most famous resident, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who became Pope Pius II in 1458. Piazza Pio (Pius) illustrates his concept of the balance between church and state, and religious and civic buildings sit side by side in architectural harmony. On the way back to the property, we will stop to photograph wherever we find the best light. Then it’s on to dinner at a local trattoria before we return to the villa.

Day 6 – Thursday, May 20

The Cathedral - Orvieto, UmbriaEnjoy a day trip to the city of Orvieto, located in southwest Umbria. This is well-heeled hill top town 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. For the non-photographers, enjoy a walking tour with an expert guide. Another unique experience follows; we will visit a local farmhouse in the countryside that produces its own olive oil and wines and have a tour, then enjoy a typical lunch of local specialties, accompanied by the owner’s wines.

Afterwards, head onwards for the last stop of the day, to Civita di Bagnoregio. One of the most impressive towns in the area, Civita di Bagnoregio dates back to the Etruscan period and was partially rebuilt it in the medieval period. Its residents number just 30, with no cars or supermarkets.  Before dinner, enjoy a talk by an expert in Tuscan culture and history.  We’ll then enjoy dinner together at the villa.

Day 7 – Friday, May 22

Spring Grapevine, TuscanyWe’ll focus on our work at the villa today. Download and edit images, and prepare a slideshow of your best images from the week in preparation for a final critique. For non-photography guests, enjoy a full day in the magnificent Renaissance city of Florence. Start your day with a tour that explores the highlights of the city. If we find that our guests have already been to Florence, we can arrange for a more specialized tour or experience, such as Florence’s Grand Palazzi or the opportunity to learn about leather making, followed by instruction and participation in creating a leather book cover. Once the group returns from Florence, we will enjoy a final dinner back at the villa with the photographers.

Day 8 – Saturday, May 23

After saying our final goodbyes, we’ll depart for Florence after an early breakfast.  We’ll either take you to Florence’s Peretola Airport or to the city, depending on your flight date and time.

Cost Information

Costs listed are land only.

Photography Students: $3495

Non Photography Companions:  $2495.  A companion is one who will be sharing accommodations with the photography student.

Costs inclusions:

  • Expert instruction, both group and individual, daily by Jeff Curto
  • Travel materials provided and regular communication leading up to the trip by La Dolce Via Travel
  • Deluxe minibus or minivan transportation to and from the property and daily to various locations with an English speaking driver
  • Admissions for all included sightseeing described
  • 7 nights accommodations at beautiful Villa Cornacchi
  • Services of a professional English speaking Tour Manager
  • Local expert guides
  • All gratuities, taxes and fees
  • Breakfast daily (Sunday – Saturday)
  • Lunch on dates May 17 (non-photographers only), May 21, May 22 (photographers only)
  • Dinner with wine (within reasonable limits!) daily (Saturday – Friday)

Column, ItalyImportant Notes

*Non-photography companions are welcome and warmly invited to attend. We have planned several experiences specifically for you, 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.

*After reviewing flights, you may discover that you may be required to arrive the day prior to the beginning of the planned trip in order to meet the group for transfer to Villa Cortigiani. Or you may just want to arrive a few days early or say a few days beyond the course to explore another fabulous part of Italy. If this is the case, La Dolce Via Travel can assist you with transfers, accommodations, or other travel needs you may have.  If you have any questions about arriving in Italy, the trip itself, or other aspects of travel in Italy, please contact Rosanne Cofoid of La Dolce Via Travel.

*The land cost is based on current exchange rate between the Euro and US Dollar. Should these rates change significantly, there may be an adjustment in the trip price.

*For independent meals that are not included in the price of the trip (these are noted by “lunch on own), if we choose to dine together, we will divide the bill equally by the number of diners. If you prefer not to have your bill calculated in this way, please let us know beforehand and we will make alternative arrangements when determining the bill.

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