Landscape Photography in Tuscany
San Quirico d'Orcia, Italy
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Meadows & hills
Join our experienced leader as we photograph classic Tuscan subjects - villages, architecture, markets and people - plus the Renaissance city of Siena. Whether you are a beginner wanting to learn more about basic camera settings, or an advanced photographer seeking new challenges, our expert leader will give you the encouragement and tuition you need to get the best out of your camera and that inspirational Tuscan vista. Suitable for all abilities.
- Visit inspirational vistas of beautiful Tuscany
- Spend most of the day outdoors seeking out the best light, colours and images
- Our professional photography leader will guide and encourage
Great Reasons to Join Us
- Great value: all prices include ensuite half-board accommodation, plus all transport to photography locations and tuition
- Expert leader: all our leaders are experts in their field and will ensure that you get the most out of your holiday
- Accommodation: enjoy good quality accommodation and excellent food
- Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays - explore together, eat together, relax together
Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo
The 3-star Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo is set in a peaceful location in the countryside surrounding the village of San Quirico, and is very convenient for the local amenities. This family owned hotel was originally an attractive farmhouse, extended on both sides to incorporate the bedrooms. An attractive terrace, partly covered, overlooks the pool and has excellent views to the gentle hills of Montalcino. The hotel offers good standards of service and comfort and has a relaxing atmosphere after your day’s walking.
The hotel has 42 comfortable bedrooms, all en-suite with shower. All bedrooms also have TV, telephone, air conditioning, fridge, hairdryer
The hotel has a lounge and bar, terrace and attractive gardens, and an outdoor swimming pool (swimming hat is required)
Our holidays at Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo are on a half board basis and include breakfast and evening meal.
The self-select continental breakfast includes cereal, cheese and cooked meats, bread, croissants and home-produced honey. Tea and coffee is available.
The five course set menu features many Tuscan specialities, using homemade pasta and locally-produced oil, meat and cheese. An alternative is available for vegetarians; however we recommend that those with special diets discuss their requirements with the manager or chef.
There is a well-stocked bar serving beer, wine and spirits.
Lunch (payable locally)
You can buy a picnic lunch from the hotel (order the night before). Alternatively ingredients can be bought in local shops, including a supermarket five minutes’ walk away. On some days it may be possible to eat in a café during a walk or excursion; your leaders will advise you of all the options.
The friendly atmosphere of our holidays continues into the evening.
Enjoy a glass of wine or local beer before hearing about the next day's activities, then join your fellow guests for a leisurely meal. One evening our guests can learn more about olive oil and take part in a tasting session, very popular with our guests. Your leader will be checking out for other local events going on nearby, or you may prefer to relax on the terrace enjoying the panoramic view or in the bar with a drink.
Every effort is made to adhere to this itinerary, however there may be circumstances beyond our control which could lead to a change in the programme.
Monday: Taking in beautiful San Quirico
After a brief talk on capturing the landscape in photography, we set off with our cameras at the ready. The beautiful town of San Quirico really is the Tuscany of our imagination; sitting prettily atop a hillside, it commands enchanting views of endless golden wheat fields, undulating hills running one after the other, avenues of cypress trees along curvy country roads, and isolated farms dotted here and there. As we explore, there is also delight in detail: pretty weathered stone, beautiful doorways, gorgeous Romanesque sculptures and carving. As we practise our photography skills, we capture some great images. Quite literally on our doorstep.
Tuesday: Seeing the landscape through the eye of the photographer
Today we drive to Pienza - a charming village, carefully constructed as a perfectly proportioned and harmonious ensemble of buildings with a lovely central square. Our challenge is to take advantage of Pienza's strategic hilltop position, dominating all the Orcia Valley with extraordinary views. Then it's on to Montepulciano, full of elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, charming squares and hidden corners. We are afforded many an opportunity to practise our photography skills by the vast panoramas all over the wonderful valleys that surround it.
Wednesday: Interpreting the landscape and exploring new skills
After breakfast we set off to observe the landscape, both rural and urban, and interpret our ideas and emotional responses into images. First we explore the small hillside village of Monticchiello set deep in the quintessential landscape of Tuscany. This tiny medieval village entices the photographer inside us to capture its unique beauty and record our emotional first encounter. Then we head off to the thermal town of Chianciano Terme, which can trace its history even further back to pre-Roman times.
Thursday: a free day for you to relax and enjoy the facilities at the hotel, further explore the historic walled town or travel further afield sightseeing.
Friday: The urban landscape - looking for the unusual
This morning we travel to Siena on a sightseeing tour that also enables us to explore architectural photography, street photography and to look for wonderful detail. Siena is perhaps Italy's loveliest medieval city, with its famous central piazza and Gothic cathedral at its heart. A photographic trip that provides utterly delightful detail within all that imposing grand scale.
Saturday: Blending village and towns into our landscape images
Today we travel to Montalcino, scarcely changed in appearance since the 16th century and with spectacular views from its ramparts. Then it's on to Abbazia di Sant'Antimo to briefly explore this evocative abbey, a picture of splendid isolation, before we head on to Bagni Vignoni, a tiny but fascinating village, clustered around a large inviting pool of warm thermal waters and closed on three sides by the town walls. As we drive along the endlessly beautiful Tuscan landscape, we stop en route to get the best out of our cameras in some of the most spectacular and iconic scenery in Italy.
What to bring
- your camera and other essential accessories
- memory card
- battery and charger
- your camera’s instruction manual
- appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear, ideally walking boots
- bag or rucksack for your camera equipment, spare clothing, lunch, water, sunscreen etc
- notebook and pencil (pencils work better should it rain!)
Optional camera accessories (remember you will have to carry some of these and possibly also pay extra if you exceed your luggage allowance)
- spare memory cards
- a spare camera battery
- a spare camera (you never know)
- a small selection of lenses: wide angle, telephoto, macro, for example
- filters: neutral density and graduated, polarising
- a laptop plus accessories for viewing, editing and sharing images (whilst it’s not absolutely essential, bringing your own laptop will mean you get more from your photography holiday if you shoot digital)
- memory stick or CD for storing images
- a tripod or monopod if you feel more comfortable with one
- camera rain-protector—a shower cap or plastic bag, or something more expensive if you prefer
An introduction to the area
The historic fortified village of San Quirico lies in the heart of the Val d’Orcia, in a wonderful landscape of green and golden hills for which Tuscany is famous. San Quirico is probably of Etruscan origin and is situated about 40km south of Siena, on the hills that divide the two river valleys of the Asso and Orcia. Because of its position in the middle of the main Francegen pilgrimage route, the town has long been a staging post for wayfarers, pilgrims and merchants on the way to Rome. Wandering through the narrow streets of the old town, you will encounter many historic sights such as the Santa Maria Assunta Church, the Collegiata, the Rose Garden, Cappuccini Town Gate the ancient city walls.
San Gimignano - A fascinating hill-town with a breathtaking skyline of towers. Upon arrival we can enter the town through the Porta S. Giovanni and then head to the Piazza del Duomo. The Duomo has an exotic interior containing fresco cycles of the Old and New Testament stories. It is worthwhile to visit the Rocca and ramparts which offer extensive views across the countryside. The church of St. Augustine is well away from the crowds and has frescoes on the life of Saint Francis.
On the return to San Quirico a stop could be made at the heavily fortified small town of Monteriggioni which was once the border of the Florence and Siena republics.
Assisi - This beautiful city is dominated by its Basilica and is famous as the birthplace of St Francis. The Basilica consists of the upper church which is the setting of the world famous Giotto cycle of frescoes on the life of Francis, the lower church with its frescoes by Lorenzetti, and below that the crypt containing the tomb of St Francis.
A visit to Assisi could be combined with a stop at Cortona a very fine hill top town with commanding views. A short walk could take you to the Piazza della Republica, then to the Piazza Garibaldi, from where there is an extensive view looking across Lago Trasimeno.
Both these options involve hiring a coach and there needs to be a significant number of guests interested to make the economics worthwhile. Alternatives include:
- Visiting the nearby Villa La Foce and its Gardens, made famous by Iris Origo’s book War in the Val d’Orcia – An Italian Diary
- Visiting the hot springs at nearby Bagno Vignoni on foot or on the local bus. These have been known since the Etruscan era and were developed by the Medici family.
Shops & facilities
There are plenty of shops, small mini-markets for picnic provisions and also several bars to visit on a stroll after dinner.
We recognise that everyone’s travel arrangements are unique, so all our holidays to Europe can be booked ‘with flight’ or ‘without flight’, giving you more flexibility and choice.
‘With flight’ holidays – the hassle-free option
Book your holiday ‘with flight’ and choose between Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham flights to Pisa airport. For flight times and prices please see the Dates & Prices tab.
If you choose this option we automatically include return transfers between the airport and the hotel. The coach transfer takes approx 2 hours 30 minutes to the Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo.
‘Without flight’ holidays – the flexible travel option
Alternatively, tailor your journey to suit you by booking your holiday ‘without flight’ allowing you the freedom to book your own flights from your local airport.
If you choose this option, transfers are not included in the price. However, below are some suggestions to help you reach your destination:
Transfers must be pre-booked. Please call 020 8732 1220 for more details
* Please note that HF Holidays is not responsible for your onward travel if you fail to meet the transfer coach
Graham is a full time professional photographer with 37 years experience based on the southern edge of the Cotswolds and a qualified member of The British Institute of Professional Photography. Over the years he has been commissioned to photograph royal events through to countless weddings, family portraits, commercial photography and has lead numerous courses in photography both at home and overseas. He is a tutor for a distance learning Diploma in Professional Photography and the author of a book 'The Wonder and Beauty of Westonbirt', the National Arboretum. In addition to this Graham regularly takes on commercial assignments for a variety of clients as well as personal tuition in photography. His work has been used around the world in a variety of publications. He believes photography should be fun and he aims to encourage his students to appreciate all they observe and see how they might record it in an imaginative and creative way.
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Double room for sole occupancy: £15 per night (2016), £16 per night (2017)
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person