Tuscany, Italy

Dates: May 20–28, 2023

Begins: Lucca, Italy
(airport: FLR)

Ends: Panzano, Italy
(airport: FLR)

Leaders: Jeffrey Chapman & Winslow Lockhart

Maximum Participants: 8

Tuition: $4,100

Accommodation: Included
(optional single supplement: $1,100)

Meals: Breakfasts Included

Average Daily Driving Distance: 50km (30mi)*
*excludes diversions, which are encouraged

Payment Policy: 3 Installments
     • $500 deposit to confirm participation
     • 50% due by September 1, 2022
     • Balance due by December 1, 2022

This photographic adventure begins in Lucca, Italy and ends in Panzano, Italy. Both are close to Florence, and the airport in Florence (FLR) is the easiest for arrivals, departures, and rental cars. Tuition includes hotel (based on double occupancy; single occupancy is available with payment of a single-occupancy supplement) and breakfasts for the duration of the workshop. It does not include car rental, gas, parking, lunches, dinners, entrance fees, wine tastings, souvenirs, laundry, hotel resort/destination fees, insurance (travel, medical, cancellation), nor any personal expenses.

This adventure is suitable for all levels of photographic experience. Participants must be in good health and able to spend each day walking and carrying their own equipment.

Reserve your spot below.

Tuscany Within The Frame Photographic Adventure

Tuscany Within The Frame

Tuscany has maintained a persistent allure throughout centuries. The Etruscans, the Romans, the well-heeled on the obligatory grand tour have all been seduced by the light, the views, the pace of life, and eventually the cuisine and the art found in this region of Italy. Conversations overheard here often revolve around what one had for one’s last meal and what is being planned for the next, and the weighty question of which are the best wine pairings to compliment one’s food choices ought to be the only dilemma to potentially cause a brow to furrow. The lush landscape with its postcard-worthy vistas in every direction has a way of alleviating any discomfort. What is it about a view that seems to magically prompt one to relax, sigh, and breathe? Everywhere one looks and everywhere one goes in Tuscany is a constant reminder that this is a paradise.

Photographers can find Tuscany to be particularly exciting. Vast fields of red poppies in bloom, statuesque rows off soldier-like cyprus trees in formation, time-worn churches on hilltops, and vacant cobblestone streets in morning light all may inspire a photographer to grab a camera. The beauty is obvious, but the nuances of texture, light, and color provide ample space for each of us to challenge ourselves with techniques, both familiar and new, in an environment that is particular to this region. Tuscany can be shrouded in an early morning mist, potentially challenging for a photographer, but experimenting can produce stellar results. Differing light conditions can require an assortment of ways and means to best exploit any environment that persuades one to point the lens. The Within The Frame leaders are available to assist you every day, and we also meet as a group daily to discuss our experiences and challenges with the camera at each location throughout our time in Tuscany. Keeping the number of participants limited to a small group means that we can offer tips, advice, and direction as often as is desired or needed. Those of you wishing to photograph without input or direction from the leaders are of course free to do so, but we are available to help with any questions or concerns as they arise.

The foodies making the pilgrimage to Tuscany on the hunt for the perfect tagliatelle al tartufo (pasta in a truffle sauce) are matched head for head by the art lovers who may be following on the trail of Botticelli or trying to find the exact location matching the scenery captured in their favorite Renaissance painting. If a traveller happens to have one foot in both camps, a foodie and an art lover, Tuscany is an absolute must. Many have proposed that it is here in this region of Italy where one can find the best food, the best wine, and the best art in the world. It’s honestly difficult to argue with that notion no matter what metric is being used. When the morning mist lifts, exposing the rolling hills with the orchards, vineyards, cyprus groves, and stately farmhouses bathed in golden light, a traveller may ask herself why she hasn’t visited earlier, or what has taken her so long to return.

Tuscany Within The Frame is a road-trip adventure through the timeless Tuscan hills, villages, and cities of this region. Traversing Tuscany by car is the best way to explore the scenery, the vineyards, the dining options, and to chase opportunities for photography. Rather than confine ourselves to one vehicle and a fully-defined itinerary with a rigid schedule for the entire group, we are going to travel by rental cars for this adventure, convoying, leapfrogging, and diverging as mood and muses desire. This will permit small groups to adopt differing schedules for early-morning photography, late-evening photography, etc. Within The Frame will help to arrange car shares, matching those who are happy to drive with those who prefer not to drive. We do have an itinerary to give us a framework for organizing our days, but indulging an impulse to see what is over a hill to the left or the right is encouraged. From season to season, word can spread of an orchard having a stellar crop and producing the best figs or apricots seen in a generation or a restaurant with a new chef serving the best Bistecca Fiorentina (steak from an ancient breed of Tuscan cattle) in the region. This adventure allows for us to explore these word-of-mouth tips and personal whims without missing notable spots.

This photographic adventure is about the passionate discovery and photography of people, place, and culture, with emphasis given to going deep not wide, and pursuing that most elusive of photographic necessities — our vision. It is appropriate for photographers of all levels.

Lucca (Days One — Two)

Although most Tuscany Within The Frame participants are likely arriving in and departing from Florence for this adventure, the city is not included in our itinerary. Cars can be rented at the airport in Florence, and we convene in Lucca for our introductory meet-and-greet evening meal. Lucca is about a 49 mile (78.5 km) drive west of Florence, toward the coast. Those wishing to spend time in Florence may choose to arrive a couple of days early or arrange to stay a couple of days after our adventure concludes.

Our adventure begins in Lucca, our home for the first two nights in Tuscany. Lucca, the birthplace of Puccini, is at the base of the Apuan Alps and is less than thirty minutes from the coast. Renaissance-era city walls in Lucca have been inventively repurposed from defensive ramparts into an elevated, tree-lined pedestrian promenade surrounding the oldest part of the city, creating a park-like route to view and photograph the sights from a unique perspective. The easiest way to get around town is on foot or bicycle.

The Cathedral San Martino is the home of the Volto Santo, a walnut crucifix that has attracted religious pilgrims to Lucca since the Middle Ages. Carved by Nicodemus, legend has it that the artist is the same Nicodemus who after the crucifixion helped to bury Christ and that this depiction shows “the true face of Christ.” The cross arrived in Lucca in the year 782.

The Palazzo Pfanner, a palace now converted into a museum with a luxurious Baroque garden where we find monumental statues depicting Olympian gods is also a noteworthy location to visit and photograph. The garden can be both intimate and grand with its grassy lawns, fountains, cozy nooks and rows of lemon trees in enormous earthenware pots.

Lucca is a city with an abundance of boutiques, eateries, historical spots, and a vibrant nightlife. Leisurely wandering the narrow streets and the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a public square built on the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater, in the evening while people watching and enjoying a wine tasting is a fine introduction to the region. Discovering a favorite location, a secret spot not mentioned in any well-known guidebook, within the maze of streets here is likely.

Pisa & San Gimignano (Days Three – Four)

After breakfast, we head toward Pisa as we make our way to San Gimignano, our base for the next two nights. Pisa, known around the world as the home of the Leaning Tower, is set at the mouth of the Arno River on the Ligurian Sea. The city has a population of a couple hundred thousand in the greater metropolitan area, a hefty portion of which are students attending the University of Pisa, one of the largest Universities in Italy. The school dates back to the 12th century.

Although the Pisa Cathedral bell tower, completed in 1372, is the most known landmark in the city, it is one of four medieval masterpieces in the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The quartet is complete with the Duomo (Cathedral), Babistry, and the Camposanto (Monumental Cemetery). The elliptical dome of the Cathedral is the first of its kind in Europe and influenced the design of Romanesque architecture throughout the region and beyond. Housed inside the Cathedral are extraordinary examples of Carrara marble carving by father and son master sculptors, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, among the most important sculptors of the 13th century. Their work here inspired other artists to begin experimenting more with expressionism in the human form. This fascinating collaboration of father and son is a story missed by those breezing through town to snap a photo of themselves in front of the leaning bell tower.

We arrive in San Gimignano, a walled medieval hill town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, by evening. We get settled into our accommodations, enjoy a sumptuous dinner, and begin to familiarize ourselves with the town. Its skyline of unmistakable towers is remarkable for the region as most of the towers once present in other towns have not survived. They are medieval skyscrapers built by the town’s wealthy to make their mark and to compete with those engaged in the same practice living in neighboring towns. Curiously, many of the towers built during this era were hollow shells having no purpose other than to announce to all who could see it that a well-to-do family lived here, even in cases when the family might not be so wealthy, hence the many hollow towers. San Gimignano is the most elegantly preserved of the Tuscan hill towns. In the town center, we find Romanesque and Gothic palazzos (palatial buildings, often homes) surrounding the piazza, while at its center is a well dating from 1346, which was the main source of water for those living here. The red-tiled roofs and cobblestone streets set the perfect intimate environment for charming walks while enjoying a gelato on the way to visit the sights or to just wander on a quest to find an image worthy of photographing, which is not a difficult task here.

The churches house artworks dating from the early Italian Renaissance, and a spot not to miss is the Duomo di San Gimignano in the city center with its many frescos. A climb to the top of Torre Grossa, the tallest of the town’s fourteen remaining towers, provides panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Tuscan countryside. San Gimignano understandably gets a lot of attention from tourists passing through the region. During midday, to escape the throng of tourists descending upon the town, we may want to venture beyond the city walls to explore the beautiful environment. This region of Tuscany is known for saffron production and, of course, wine, so maybe a wine tasting is in the cards this day or possibly a visit to a crocus farm where we can learn how saffron is harvested from the delicate flower. Opportunities for photography abound throughout the region. Make a plan, or instead decide to wander and let luck lead you. You really can’t go wrong either way.

Siena & Montepulciano (Days Five – Six)

Today, we depart San Gimignano heading toward Siena, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are free to explore points of interest along the way, stopping in Siena to visit a notable spot or two before continuing on to Montepulciano. A location not to miss in Siena is the Duomo di Siena, one of the finest examples of Romanesque-Gothic church architecture in Italy, and here we find artworks created by the hands of some of the most celebrated artists of the Renaissance such as Donatello, Pisano, and Michelangelo. The marble mosaic flooring is the most impressive in all of Italy and took six centuries to finish, being completed in the 1800s.

Leaving Siena, we join an ancient route through the Val d’Orcia, arguably the most picturesque scenery in all of Tuscany through the valley of the Orcia River. A good bet is that any postcard image you have ever seen of Tuscany likely depicts the Val d’Orcia in all its glory. UNESCO when evaluating the area for historical and cultural importance decided to deem the entire Val d’Orcia a World Heritage Site. This is an ancient Roman route, and an even earlier Etruscan route, currently called Via Cassia connecting Florence and Siena to Rome through hillscapes often topped with small fortified settlements, castles, abbeys, and hamlets. It is an area woven with thousands of years of history. Throughout this day trip there are locations to explore and photograph before we reach our final destination for the day and our home for the next two nights, Montepulciano. Among our stops during this travel day are Buonconvento, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful villages in all of Italy, and San Quirico d’Orcia where we find the Horti Leonine Gardens. This is a day to delight in being surrounded by iconic Tuscan landscapes that have been inspiring artists for as long as paint has been put to canvas.

Montepulciano is a medieval village set on a hilltop, and it is best explored on foot where one can wander past Renaissance palazzos to reach the highest point and the main piazza, Piazza Granda. Despite the abundant beauty, this location is best known around the world for producing Vino Nobile, often judged to be among the premier Tuscan wines. We are always looking for inspiration to point the lens and are challenged with many opportunities to test our skills as photographers here in this almost too beautiful region of Tuscany. We have the good fortune to spend two nights here. We visit vineyards, eat delicious food, enjoy wine tastings, explore the town, and create stunning photographs.

Chianti & Panzano (Days Seven – Eight)

After breakfast in Montepulciano, we head toward the Chianti region and Panzano, our home for our final two nights in Tuscany. This is a leisurely day trip with ample room to investigate any points of interest on our path as we travel the Via Chiantigana, one of the most scenic motoring routes in Italy through the Chianti Classico wine zone, where wine has been produced for over 2,000 years. Experiencing déjà vu here is not unusual as most of us may have the puzzling sensation of recognizing sections of this route. Countless car commercials have been filmed here and broadcast around the world. We’ll be travelling from farmhouse to villa to vineyard and through villages, small towns, past fortified castles, olive groves and eventually upwards into the hills to reach Panzano. The first legal document in the world to define a wine producing region was in 1716 when Cosmo III de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, signed an edict officially designating the boundaries of the Chianti district.

Panzano’s history is both sad and a little funny. Situated almost directly between Siena and Florence, it became a battle zone for these two waring feudal powers and has been attacked, destroyed, and rebuilt almost too many times to keep track of. It was destroyed in the 1200s, the 1300s, the 1400s, and the 1500s as it bounced back and forth from being controlled by Florence and then Siena and then back to Florence and back to Siena. That’s a lot of rebuilding. Not surprisingly, the surviving architecture from this time shows evidence of this history, and it gives the town a unique character.

The most popular guy in town may be a butcher, Dario Cecchini, who regals visitors and locals alike with his particularly unique approach to salesmanship. If he’s not singing in the streets while handing out samples, he’s in his shop practicing the trade of eight generations of his line. He’s part showman, part philosopher, and part poet while being a skilled butcher and chef — his shop also includes a restaurant. He’s on a mission to save the tradition of the local butcher from chain supermarkets… while reciting long passages of Dante by heart. Just recently, in 2019, he was featured in an episode of Chef’s Table, the documentary series on Netflix. He is the perfect Tuscan character. If you didn’t know he was from Tuscany, you could guess it. He is as much of this land as are the Sangiovese grapes that are grown here and made into Chianti.

Panzano is perfectly located to allow us to venture into the surrounding Chianti region for the final full day of our Tuscan adventure.

Panzano (Day Nine)

Early risers can spend this last morning in Panzano revisiting favorite spots or making new discoveries. After breakfast, most of us return to Florence to meet our departure flights among friends, old and new, and begin planning for our next adventure. The drive from Panzano to Florence is about 30 miles (48km) on the beautiful Via Chiantigana.

Although this represents the photographic workshop’s planned itinerary, it is subject to change at the discretion of the workshop leaders.

Reserve Your Spot

A $500 deposit is required to confirm your participation. Click on the Pay Deposit button to reserve your spot. You will be able to pay the deposit via PayPal or credit card. To pay by other methods (or if you encounter difficulties), please fill out the Registration Form and request an invoice in the comments. Please read the Cancellation Policy and the Release of Liability.

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