In the heart of Tuscany Photography Tour
Val d'Orcia Rolling Hills and Medieval Towns
The amazing Val d’Orcia has always been loved for its unique scenarios. A UNESCO's Mankind Heritage Site since 2004, this land probably represents the most successful example of how human interaction with nature can turn into magic and create incredibly beautiful landscapes.
For centuries, painters have been deeply inspired by these gently rolling hills, with their changing colors in the seasons, patchwork of wheat, corn and sunflowers fields, scattered farmhouses and dirt roads lined with cypress trees.
Today, the Val d’Orcia remains one of the most photographed and filmed areas of the world, and its enchanted views have been featured in many famous movies such as Ridley Scott's The Gladiator, Anthony Minghella's The English Patient and Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet.
The best period for visiting and photographing this area is probably from March to June, when the fields are green and dotted with flowers, and trees are blooming. However this place is so impressing that also in less ideal seasons will provide the conditions for unforgettable holidays and photographic tours.
Words simply fail for describing how beautiful this region is. You really have to come and see with your eyes!
Main Shooting Locations
This famous small town atop a hill in the Val d'Orcia is known as the "touchstone of Renaissance urbanism." Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, which was the birthplace (in 1405) of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, a Renaissance humanist who later became Pope Pius II. Once he became Pope, Piccolomini had the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town.
San Quirico d'Orcia
A lovely, small medieval town in the heart of the Orcia Valley, it still conserves the medieval walls, and two churches from the X and XII century.
Cypress trees of San Quirico
Probably the most photographed bunch of cypress trees in the whole world. This famous circle of trees is just outside of San Quirico, along the national road "Cassia".
Chapel of Vitaleta
Another worldwide famous shooting location, the Chapel of the Madonna of Vitaleta is a rural small church placed atop a hill in the country side between Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia.
A wonderful medieval town built atop the highest hill of the area, Montalcino's main feature is a perfectly conserved castle/fortress from where the 360 degrees view on the rolling hills of the Orcia Valley view is simply breathtaking.
Abbey of Sant'Antimo
Not far from Montalcino, surrounded by the vineyards of Brunello, the worldwide renown red wine, lies the incredibly old Abbey of Sant'Antimo, founded in the VIII century by Charlemagne. T
Between Pienza and San Quirico, the small hamlet of Bagno Vignoni was built nearby a hot spring. These thermal waters have been used since Roman times. At the heart of the village is the "Square of sources", a wonderful pool built in the 1500, which contains the original source of water that comes from the subterranean aquifer of volcanic origins.
Probably the sweetest spot of the whole Orcia Valley in Tuscany, Italy, from where one can enjoy an extraordinary view on the famous rolling hills, the Mount Amiata and the medieval towns of Pienza, Castiglione and San Quirico. Belvedere is a small hamlet of the municipality of Castiglione d'Orcia, and it is ideally placed at the centre of the Orcia Valley.
Pitigliano is a medieval town in the Maremma area of Tuscany, not far from Val d'Orcia. The town stands on an abrupt tuff butte high above the Olpeta, the Fiora and the Lente rivers.
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Example of a typical
day in the field
Sunrise and early morning
wake up about 30-40 minutes before dawn and with a five minutes transfer by car we will get to the Bevedere, a wonderful spot perfectly situated at the centre of the Orcia Valley. We will shoot grand vistas in the mist at sunrise of the rolling hills with the small hamlets and scattered farm houses typical of this area
rest of the morning
we will spend the rest of the morning scouting the area between San Quirico d'Orcia and Pienza, leaving the beaten path and driving instead on dirt roads and off-track, looking for beautiful spots and stopping everytime we will find a good one.
With a bit of luck we will have a nice encounter with some of the wildlife species living in the area, such as deer and hawks.
Lunch: we will grab a quick lunch at some bar/trattoria in Pienza.
We will spend the afternoon visiting and photographing the many beautiful buildings and churches od this amazing small town, as well as the wonderful views on the surrounding hills one can enjoy from the bastions. Declared world heritage site in 1996 by Unesco, Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, which was the birthplace (in 1405) of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, a Renaissance humanist who later became Pope Pius II. Once he became Pope, Piccolomini had the whole village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town. Intended as a retreat from Rome, it represents the first application of humanist urban planning concepts, creating an impetus for planning that was adopted in other Italian towns and cities and eventually spread to other European centers.
We will leave from Pienza about one hour before sunset heading to the Chapel of Vitaleta, a small rural church placed atop a hill in the country side between Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia. We will shoot the sun setting behind the hills from this enchanted country scenario.
Why should I take an Italy Photography Workshop with Paolo De Faveri?Simple: because you will learn how to take better photographs. Consider a Paolo De Faveri's Photography Workshop as an invaluable add-on to your gear: a tool that will teach you how to take wonderful photos wherever you go. We make the art and technique of photography simple to understand by breaking it down into easy pieces of information that you will find useful to apply every time you will be in the field.
What will I learn?Well, a whole lot, you can be sure. Paolo De Faveri's workshops are designed to help take your creativity to a new level. Through a combination of both in-the-field image sessions and class/lecture sessions on many different topics both technical and artistic, I want to get you to start thinking differently as an artist and spark your artistic vision. key features always include: - master the basics of landscape photography - learn how to compose effectively no matter of the subject, from macro to grand vistas - learn how to photograph with challenging lighting, such as at sunrise and sunset - learn about when and how to use filters - explore advanced photography techniques such as long exposures in broad daylight and image stitching for panoramic compositions Check the lessons section in this website for an exhaustive list of topics usually covered in my in-the-field and classroom sessions.
What happens on an Italy Photography Workshop with Paolo De Faveri?All of my workshops start with a brief Introduction, a presentation of the daily schedule and the technical and artistic goals of each day, followed by questions and answer session for getting to know each other, assessing the level of knowledge of the group, each person's goals and expectations. On average we will spend from 8 to 10 hours a day in the field, every day in a different location, having big fun in chasing the best possible light and scouting the area looking for images that capture the innermost beauty of the amazing world around us. My tours are a mix of adventure and teaching, and they are not intended as only formal teaching and instructions They are more about wandering in some of the best natural or urban environments I know and getting fully immersed in photography. A "learn by doing" kind of education, as I answer questions and solve problems as they arises, completed by a debriefing in the evening when we will thoroughly review and critique together the work done in the day, and we will analyze in details basic and advanced techniques of image processing.
What will I learn in the classroom/webinars?Check the lessons section in this website for an exhaustive list of topics usually covered in my classroom sessions and webinars.
Does the instructor shoot over the workshop?Yes, I will be shooting during the tour/workshop, but in a limited capacity as participants needs come first of course. I often take pictures right along with the students inspiring them to learn to see an image the way I do. Much of my shooting over the workshop is meant as direct field demonstrations aimed to improve student's creative vision and technique.
How advanced do I need to be?Anyone, no matter of how advanced he/she is, will find my workshops to be a great learning experience. The majority of my students are usually somewhere between intermediate to advanced amateur up to semi-pro and pro, but many beginners attend too. You should in anycase be at least familiar with your equipment and its operation. Always bring your camera manual for quick reference in the field.
What kind and how much equipment should I bring?The essential photo gear you should have with you is listed here below. This gear is highly recommended for taking full advantage of the instructions you will receive in my workshops. - tripod - dslr camera - a good quality zoom lens covering a focal range length of at least 28 to 100 mm - enough storage cards for at least 16 GB - extra camera batteries - camera bag or backpack - camera user's manual
Will weather ever force us to change the workshop's schedule?Bad weather always provide unusual and harsh conditions that contribute unique drama and mood to our images. So the answer is no, normally. We only stop shooting and/or move elsewhere if an element of danger arises.
Is transportation included?Usually yes, it's included, unless when stated differently in the workshop description. For group tours we will use vans/small buses for our daily transfers from the hotel to the shooting locations and back. For private/small groups workshops I will drive my own car. Of course, you have to arrive on your own to the hotel/lodging.
How should I dress?I recommend to come prepared for anything and bring an extra layer of warm clothes with you. Here is a list of clothes/accessories you should always dress/have with you when shooting outdoor: - trekking shoes if you shoot in a natural environment; a pair of very comfortable - and possibly water-proof shoes - if you shoot in a urban context - wind/rain proof jacket - pile pullovers - gloves - headdress - head lamp and batteries
How do I register for a workshop?Simply use the pre-registration form available in the pages describing each workshop and compile every field of it, letting me know about the workshop of your choice, the number of participants, the desired dates and duration, etc. I will be back to you right away for confirming the availability and with the instruction for booking. To validate your reservation, you will be asked to pay the 35% of the workshop price as a deposit.
What is your cancellation policy?All my workshops are subject to the following Cancellation Policy: - If you cancel within 30 days before the workshop start, you will be refunded the deposit minus 100,00 € as administrative fee. - No refund will be issued for cancellations received with 30 days or less remaining before the workshop starting date. Please note that there is no exception to this policy. For this reason it is strongly recommended to purchase refundable plane/train tickets only and endow yourself with a trip cancellation insurance. All cancellation request must be in writing.
Details and Requirements - Key FeaturesNumber of students per workshop: minimum 1, maximum 3 students Duration: minimum 3, maximum 7 days 5 or, even better, 6 days is the recommended length, as it is indeed the ideal timeframe for putting together a very effective itinerary, there are long distances to cover as the Ardeche is quite a big region Workshops Availability From March thru November Difficulty Easy. Most of the shooting locations are directly accessible by car. A few of them require short hikings of no more than 1.5 kms one way, on easy trails with moderate elevation gain. The trail along the Ardeche River Gorges is not difficult but long and demanding in terms of stamina required. It can be added as an option, just ask What's included - full time in-the-field tutoring and instructions - at least one image processing class (min. 2 hours) per workshop - all transportation during the workshop will be provided with a rented car/van. included in the price What's not included - Travel costs for reaching the accommodation, hotels/B&B rates, meals and beverages are not included in the cost of admission unless specified. - Excursion boats - Entrance tickets to archelogical sites. museums, etc. - Lodging costs of the instructor Insurance All participants must be in possession of a valid Health and Accident Insurance with repatriation cover.
About your Photography Instructor
Ciao! My name is Paolo.
I have been a full-time professional landscape, nature, travel and architecture photographer since 2007. Since then, I have planned and led hundreds of private one-to-one and small groups photo workshops and tours in some of the best looking regions and cities of Italy and France.
My pictures have appeared in calendars, books, travel magazines, brochures and as wall art in offices, hotels, restaurants and corporate venues. For more info please click here