Tuscany Photo Tour
May 18 – 25, 2024
cost – $5500/person
Join us for a magical photo-vacation adventure in sun soaked Tuscany. We are taking over a villa in the Val D’orcia region of Italy near Siena. The luxury villa has a pool, jacuzzi, and sauna, 9 bedrooms, full vegetable garden, with a vineyard, and fantastic views of the countryside.
We have the Villa booked from Sat. afternoon on May 18 to the morning of May 25, leaving by 10. Transportation is provided to and from Florence on those days.
Villa Mariolina is a perfect location to explore the many renowned wine towns all within easy reach such as Montepulciano, Montalcino famous for its fine, rich red Brunello wines, and the beautiful gem of Pienza famous for its cheese. This spacious villa has 9 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms to host a large group of up to 18 guests and is set in fabulous countryside with panoramic views. The villa is within easy reach of the lovely walled town of Buonconvento (5km)
The property is made up of two buildings: the main villa and an adjacent cottage. This is a spacious villa for a large group and has been carefully furnished to provide cozy areas to relax and enjoy your stay in Tuscany. The villa is set in a large garden within a private country estate. It has charming outdoor areas to relax in and features beautiful views over the surrounding countryside.
On the ground floor there are 2 large suites with King size beds and en suite bathrooms, an elegant lounge, dining room and a fully equipped kitchen.
Wellness area with sauna and Jacuzzi, relaxation area and billiard room
On first floor there are 6 bedrooms (5 Queens and 1 King), each with its own en suite bathroom as well as a living room and a kitchen.
A beautiful independent cottage with living room, Queen size bedroom and en suite bathroom.
The Villa is located on an organic farm estate that extends for over 300 hectares, in the beautiful rolling hills of Val d’Orcia, a wonderful area in Tuscany nestling between Siena, Montalcino, the Crete Senesi, Pienza and Montepulciano. Renovated in 2014, Villa Mariolina is a truly luxurious villa, equipped with all comforts and amenities. It is centrally located in some of Tuscany’s most impressive scenery and in an area protected by UNESCO for its beautiful scenery
⬅ Click on the gallery to the left to see images of the villa
Included in the Villa:
Welcome dinner by local chef includes 3 course dinner with local ingredients.
Pizza night, 3 courses, with professional pizza maker in the outdoor wood fired pizza oven!
Breakfast food and snacks. You will make your own breakfast, or we will do it as a group! There is a small vegetable garden that is harvested every day for our use.
No alcohol is provided but there is amazing wine everywhere, including the wine made on the Villa’s property!
Swimming Pool, Jacuzzi Spa and Sauna. Satellite TV, Wifi, Ping Pong, Pool Table, Maid Service
Extra fees: Personal Massage, Horseback Riding and Yoga class
Included on the tour:
- Lodging for seven nights at a luxurious villa
- Transportation to and from the Villa from Florence.
- Van and driver for photo excursions and explorations
- Admission to various locations and tours
- Photo instruction and critique from Bobbi and Lee.
Transportation during the Photo Tour:
We will have a driver and van for most of our excursions around Tuscany. We still don’t have all the information about this yet and will provide it when we do. Lee and Bobbi will also have a rental car that we can use for quick trips to the town and locals, but we will only be able to carry 3 people plus us. It is an option for you to rent your own car if you feel the need for more independence. We will discuss further.
We will have several lunches and dinners while we are out, and they are paid for by the individual participants. We can take turns making dinner for the group at the Villa, too!
Travel through the Tuscan countryside and visit iconic sun drenched landscapes
Click on the galleries below to see example images
The Hill Towns
Our Tuscany adventure includes visits to some of the many medieval hill towns including:
- Casole d’Elsa
Each town offers a unique experience of sights, sounds, local cuisine, and crafts. We will also visit some wineries, and of course, sample many of the local wines.
⬅ Click on the Gallery to the left to see example images.
The Abbey of San Galgano
The Abbey of Saint Galgano is a fascinating gothic building with nearby vineyard. A popular location for events, and incredible photo opportunities. There is a restaurant next door, and the famous “Sword-in-the-stone” of Montesiepi Chapel just up the hill from the Abbey.
Click on the gallery to the right to see example images ➜
The villa is relatively close to Siena, one of Italy’s loveliest medieval cities. The city sits over three hills with its heart the huge piazza del Campo. The Duomo of Siena is one of the most amazing cathedrals in the world, and definitely a must visit attraction!
⬅ Click on the gallery to the left to see example images.
Banfi winery is at the center of wine production in Tuscany—home to the amazing Brunello varieties. We explore the winery with a private tour that takes us through the entire production process and ends with a meal at their 5-star restaurant.
Click on the Gallery to the right to see examples from our 2023 tour ➔
Behind the Scenes
Participants on the Tuscany Tour have all traveled with us before. Last year was our inaugural trip, and everyone was thrilled with the amazing, fun, luxurious, photo adventure.
⬅ Click on the gallery to the left to see our group in action.
This is a suggestion at this point as we don’t have a set daily schedule yet. We may vary the daily itinerary according to the weather. We want to bring you to the stunning locations for photography in the best light, explore some of the local hilltop towns, experience local tours for historical interest, sample lots of wine and cheese and still have time for pure relaxation at the Villa! We will have more opportunities than what is listed here, such as private winery tours, and photographing horses in the hills. At the end of this section there is a list of locations, and we suggest that you Google anything that is in BOLD for more information. We may revisit places and add others, so be flexible!
Please read the highlights below. Some of the locations will be combined on one day, or early morning and late afternoon, with relaxation time in between. We are open to other options, too, but we don’t want to wear you out by scheduling dawn to dusk activities.
Full Day trip:
Morning to Casole d’Elsa, an artistic hilltop town northwest of Siena. The streets are literally lined with art and the entire town is an artist colony as well as a beautiful and historic Etruscan settlement.
Afternoon to Siena, a beautiful medieval hilltop town and a UNESCO site. It features an outstanding Duomo, filled with art and amazing floor tiles and has a unique striped tower. There is much to do and see in Siena including the fan shaped plaza, that Rick Steves called the pretty plaza in Italy. We have dinner at a restaurant in the plaza.
*Early morning shoot:
The landscape in the Val d’Orcia area is sublime, filled with rolling hills of vineyards, olive trees and wheat fields. There is a road between San Quirico d’Orsia and Pienza that covers some of the most popular photography spots: I Cipressini, the Madonna Chapel, and Podere Belvedere. The drive is about ½ hour from the villa, so be prepared to get up at O-dark 30! The morning is spent exploring the gorgeous landscape and we will be there during poppy season with fields of red blooms.
*Early morning shoot:
*Poggio Covili is at the base of another castle hill top town, Castaglione d’Orcia. This is the famous row of Cyrpesses leading up to a beautiful farmhouse. The castle town is small, but there is a great view from below.
*Pienza is a charming Renaissance hilltop town filled with art and history with great museums, shops and stupendous views. Known for its amazing Pecorino cheeses and it’s association with Pope Pius II and III! A wonderful location for lunch, and an opportunity to shoot panoramas of the beautiful Val d’Orcia valley from lofty viewpoints. For movie buffs, Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet used the Palazzo Piccolomini for the first encounter of the lovers.
The Abbey San Galgano is the ruins of the first gothic church in Tuscany. It was built early 1200’s. Nearby is the Chapel where legend says that Saint Galgano plunged his sword into the stone to give up his life of fighting and begin his life of faith and peace. You can see the sword in the stone under a plexiglass cover! The ruins of the church are wonderful and there is a lovely café on the property for lunch or snacks.
*Cypresses of Montalcino are the iconic image of Tuscany. A grove of Cypress trees set in the middle of a green field on the side of a hill, it doesn’t get more Tuscan than this!
*Podere Baccoleno is near the town of Asciano and features a Cypress lined winding road to the farmhouse. Another classic Tuscan scene!
**Montepulciano is the perfect Tuscan hilltop town renowned for its Vino Nobile, medieval architecture, sumptuous food and its underground. Yes, you read that right! We will do the Underground Tour of wineries and tasting of their amazing wines, as well as cheese, olive oil and salami. We will have the hop-on hop-off tour of the above ground, bringing you to shops and the top of the city at the Piazza Grande. We will spend quite a bit of time before and after visiting the city to photograph the surrounding landscapes, the most gorgeous area in Tuscany!
Private Nature Preserve on the Italian West Coast – We have the option to spend an afternoon and early evening at a private nature preserve on the West Coast, near Grosseto. We will meet the ranch managers in the parking area where horse drawn carts will deliver us to this beautiful and remote nature preserve, with green forests and dramatic beaches. The preserve boasts a herd of white, long horn Maremma cows, native to Tuscany, and wild horses. The beach is stunningly gorgeous, and the cowboys will bring the horses to the beach! It’s an exquisite place to explore and photograph. We top off the day with a delicious dinner on the beach, watching the sun as it disappears into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Since access depends upon the weather, we won’t know till we arrive if this is possible. It is an add on for an additional $200 USD, but includes dinner and wine!
Landscape photo ops:
This website lists the most amazing places, which are in bold above. We will visit most if not all of them.
Medieval Hill Top Cities:
Abbey San Galgano
We suggest that you arrive a couple days early to explore Florence. We will have transportation arranged to take us from Florence to the Villa outside of Buonconvento. We will be picked up in the morning from Florence and have a leisurely drive with a lunch stop before arriving at the Villa in Buonconvento. The transportation to and from Florence is included in the Tour Fee. Lee and Bobbi will be in Florence and will be glad to accompany you on Thursday and Friday around Florence. Florence is not included in the tour price, and all expenses are on your own. When we have more info, we will suggest hotels, museums and tours.
Florence’s museums, palaces, and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world. The most popular and important sites in Florence include the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi, the Bargello, and the Accademia. The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce are veritable art galleries, and the library of San Lorenzo is a magnificent exhibition of Michelangelo’s architectural genius. Wander some of the oldest streets in the city until you reach the Arno River, cross the Ponte Vecchio, and experience the “newest” area of Florence, the Oltrarno. Be sure to set aside time to see the vast and varied art collection housed in the Pitti Palace. When you grow weary of museums and monuments, head outdoors. Spend a day at the Boboli Gardens or climb the hill to the church of San Miniato al Monte to experience an enchanting view of Florence, Italy.
B & L’s Tuscany Photo Tour Fee:
Cost per Person: Around $5500. We need to make sure that we are providing you with an incredible experience at a fair price. Since this is new trip for us, we are still learning. We will always do the best for you!
The Villa has 9 bedrooms that can sleep 18 people. Obviously Lee and I have one. They are double occupancy and the beds can be separated if non spouses are sharing a room. There are a couple of bigger bedrooms with sitting areas and tubs and they will cost a little more. ALL the rooms have wonderful private baths with shower, air conditioning, and beautifully decorated.
If you want a room to yourself,the cost goes up $500 to $6000.
A non photographing spouse has a discount of $500. That’s the best we can do since the costs will be for everyone for lodging, food, transportation, etc.