Val d'Orcia, Tuscany,
8th – 15th May
Tuscany is a landscape that the British have really taken to heart, indeed many of them have abandoned the land of their birth to set up home there. It’s not for nothing that this region has been facetiously referred to in the British press as ‘Chiantishire’!
This affection for the Tuscan countryside is nothing new however; the poet Shelley referred to it as a ‘paradise for exiles’. It is a region that is forever linked to the Renaissance – that explosion of art and rational thought that marked the end of the Middle Ages. Cities such as Pisa, Florence and Siena are linked to great figures in science and art, such as Galileo, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
Despite this urban heritage, the rural scenery beckons just as strongly as the cities. It is almost as if these Renaissance artists sat down and planned the most beautiful landscape for painters and photographers (though even Leonardo might have struggled to predict the invention of photography).
The landscape is like a giant canvas with rolling hills, rows of cypresses, olive groves, medieval hilltop villages and isolated churches scattered across its surface in perfect harmony. The clay hills dotted with isolated farmhouses and their attendant statuesque cypresses are quintessentially Tuscan. Known as Le Crete, this forms the backdrop, as well as subject, for many of the images we shall make. Unpaved roads, known as strada bianca, allow access right in to the heart of this amazingly photogenic area.
Our villa is only a few kilometres from what many people consider the finest dawn location in Tuscany; the view across the Val d’Orcia to The Belvedere. We will visit at least once during the tour. We will also explore the charming Renaissance town of Pienza, less than 10km further on. There are great views across the surrounding landscape from the city's ramparts.
Dropping down into the surrounding landscape - a region made famous in the movie Gladiator - gives us further opportunities for images looking back at the town perched on the edge of the escarpment above. These views are particularly good in the late afternoon.
No visit to this area would be complete with seeing the Abbey of Sant'Antimo, widely regarded as the most beautiful in Tuscany. It stands isolated in a timeless agricultural landscape of open fields, ancient olive groves and wooded hillsides.
Transfer from/to Pisa Airport
All transport during workshop
Full board accommodation
Photo tuition from David Ward
£2,300 for single occupancy
£500 fee payable at time of booking