Everybody want Photograph Tuscany countryside and the cypress on the top of the hill, but there are plenty of locations to capture that you don’t even know.
Tuscany truly does have it all to Photograph. From extraordinary art and architecture to colourful festivals. Or a classic panoramic picture of perfect landscapes of olive groves, vineyards and poplars. There’s an overabundance of things to Photograph in Tuscany, because this part of Italy has been value-adding since Etruscan times.
Be prepare to Photograph Tuscany
Before arrive to photography in Tuscany get sure to be prepare. It’s not a big area but there are a lot of thinks to do and capture. Indeed are not easy choice to dealing with, especially if you are first timer. So find your subjects to shoot is really fundamental and then decide how do it. Usually my first step to be prepare is to look a map of the area and choose what coming first. Also search for landscape to capture and what time I have the best light to do it. Then try to read something about history and culture and costumes. Meanwhile search for works made in this region by greater photographers. Indeed from them you will be learning a lot of things. Take notes and made a checklist.
Finally, be sure you have the right traveling photography equipment. Anyway in Tuscany there are plenty of shop where you can find almost everything.
Pick the perfect itinerary
Thanks to the unforgettable landscapes, marvelous cities and excellent wine, the region is certainly among the most beautiful in Italy. For that reason is very difficult to choose where to start to photograph Tuscany. From the enchanting Gothic majesty of Siena, the historic rival of Florence, to the Romanesque splendor of the ancient maritime republic of Pisa, it is all a succession of cities of art. If you move away from the major urban centers, you will meet another equally fascinating Tuscany, with centuries-old villages perched on top of green hills and churches located in the most remote places. So below i put the main destination and some tips to capture. My advice is to start from there and then find your itinerary based on your tastes and interest.
The classic itinerary is start from Florence, visit the center area and then go to the coast. Whatever locations you choose, don’t forget to add some places off beaten track.
Location to Photograph Tuscany
Florence is often called an “open-air museum” and actually it is just like that. Indeed it rich in art and history, which can be seen and admired even just walking through its streets, in churches, palaces and monuments. Can you start your day of shooting arriving early morning in the central Piazza del Duomo. Here can you will see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its beautiful brick dome designed by Brunelleschi in the 14th century.
Then capture the Giotto Tower and the Baptistery, with an octagonal plan, dating back to the 12th century. Taking the adjacent via Calzaiuoli on foot, you will arrive in a few minutes in the splendid Piazza della Signoria. Passing also the Church of Orsanmichele, adorned with works in marble and bronze by artists of the caliber of Donatello. To plan better your journey in Florence I make this little guide with some advice.
Once in Piazza della Signoria, admire the splendid Palazzo Vecchio with its unmistakable crenellated shape. In front you will also see a copy of Michelangelo’s David and other wonderful statues are instead located under the Loggia dei Lanzi.
Crossing the square and going in the direction of the Arno you will find the famous Ponte Vecchio, one of the symbols of the city, built in 1300. There are some really beautiful garden like Giardino di Boboli e Villa bardini. Those green area are really worth to visit and here you can take some incredible. To enjoy one of the most incredible panoramic views of the city, i recommend going up to Piazzale Michelangelo, especially at sunset. I advise to you that in some period of the year this area is full of tourist and is good idea to start at early morning and take some shot at night with tripod. Avoid, if you can, the week end and the holidays.
Siena is located on various hills so expect some ups and downs, but the main attractions are quite close together. Start your itinerary on foot in Piazza del Campo, famous for its particular shell shape and the Palio di Siena. This main event of the city is a horse race through the districts of the city which takes place twice every summer. The tower of Palazzo Comunale and the Torre del Mangia offer a spectacular view of the square and the city, climb to their top to a panoramic shot!. Then head to the Duomo, a precious example of Italian Romanesque-Gothic style, with its splendid pavement, then to the Baptistery, the Crypt and the Opera Museum.
Countryside around Siena
Siena is one of the richest areas of Italy in terms of natural and artistic beauty with four UNESCO world heritage sites. In less then 100 km you can visit magnificent territories renowned throughout the world. Nature here offers extraordinary beauty, in terms of vineyards, olive groves, forests. Also there are natural reserves dotted with castles and some churches and medieval villages still intact. This extraordinary southern part of Tuscany offers famous hilly areas such as Chianti, well known for its excellent wines, villages and precious vineyards. Is really amazing shooting the clay areas and moon-like landscapes like the Crete Senesi. Then moving only a few kilometers away to capture the Val d’Orcia valleys covered with sunflowers. And if you have more time catching some panoramic view of the picturesque medieval villages such as Pienza and Montalcino.
Can you send your entire journey in the hills of Chianti taking pictures of extraordinary landscapes and capturing the best sunset light in one of the finest medieval castles in Tuscany. The Chianti landscapes are so beautiful and unusual that inspired world famous photographs: green and peaceful hills, vineyards and olive groves, small villages and medieval castles.
San Gimignano and Volterra
Two gems from the region should not be missing from your photographic itinerary. San Gemignano and Volterra are two small historic towns overlooking the Tuscan hills. Already from the roads to get there you can enjoy and capture fabulous landscapes of multicolored hills and vineyards. To be photographed in the golden hour. In the winter time the area can be covered by a fogs, that give to a landscape something magic and unique . The two locations have also an amazing old town center, with churches and museum to capture. In Volterra can you shoot the ruins of its Etruscan acropolis and its Roman amphitheater (one of Italy’s best preserved). Also can you visit its rich stash of Etruscan funerary urns at the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci.
Pisa and Lucca
The famous Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower await you, in Pisa . Take some time also to visit the interior of the Duomo, the Baptistery and Camposanto. During the day time is full of tourist and maybe at night with tripod is best time to capture the Tower and the other monuments. The city is smaller and can you visit just walking. Just outside of town there is the famous Certosa of Calci, a medieval religious abbey, amazing for details and architecture.
The nearest Lucca is enclosed within mighty Renaissance walls which today have become a beautiful park. Here you could rent a bicycle to explore and admire Lucca from every angle, even walking along the walls. Walking in the historic center of the city, be sure to capture the Duomo, the particular oval shape Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. Then you can climb to the top of the Guinigi tower and take a panoramic view. Once Sunday a week can you shot a really good antiquaries markets in old town. In fall, few years ago they start a international festival of Photography in amazing locations all around the city.
If you head east towards can photograph the fascinating city of Arezzo. This small town is the birthplace of brilliant masters such as Piero della Francesca and Giorgio Vasari. Like a typical city in Tuscany the old town in the center is full of churches and monuments to visit. Take a walking to the Basilica of San Francesco with the splendid frescoes of the Legend of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca. Then capture the Church of San Domenico with the wooden crucifix of Cimabue. You will pass through the magnificent Piazza Grande with the lodges of Vasari and the Archaeological Museum Clinic Mecenate.
At just few minutes of car south of Arezzo there is an ideal stop to is Cortona. On the way there are typical countryside to visit with some panoramic view to shot. Cortona is origins date back to the Etruscans and one of its main attractions is the heart of the city is its Piazza della Repubblica, with the Palazzo Comunale standing in the square.
Livorno and the Coast
Livorno is actually the second largest city in Tuscany, but it is not very well known. Don’t expect to photograph a medieval old town, like in other Tuscan cities. Instead get ready to capture seascape and a charming Venetian-style neighborhood with canals. You can indulge yourself with the beaches that extend south of the city and with a charming promenade. Surely for some photographers can be an unexpected surprise may arise. The mascagni terrace is certainly the place to be photographed with its geometric lines and black and white floor.
The coast from Livorno to Piombino is know as the Etruscan Coast. In fact there are many testimonies left by the Etruscan people who inhabited this area since the 9th century have been found. This part of the Tuscan coast, therefore, does not reserve surprises only from the sea side, but it holds many treasures to capture. One interesting location to photograph is the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia Alta. This village was built by the Etruscans on the top of a hill in front of the sea. The area is full of small villages crossed by a famous wine road. The countryside is less know then Chianti area but it has nothing to envy to this.
Off Beaten track
Tuscany is such an extraordinary and varied land to photograph. With so many different places and attractions scattered throughout its territory, you are continually surprised by new hidden corners. In addition to the most tourist destinations in Tuscany, such as the main cities of art and the famous Tuscan medieval villages such as Volterra or San Gimignano, there is much more to discover.
There is also a lesser known and unusual part of Tuscany, equally fascinating and incredibly surprising! Can you capture picturesque villages rich in history, ancient traditions, particular craftsmanship, ancient walls, delightful alleys and breathtaking landscapes.
Main Events and Festival
There are many events all year round throughout Tuscany, but many are concentrated during the summer. Many sagre, or festivals dedicated around a particular local product like wine or truffles. Usually they start in early summer and continue on through the fall. Also many of the events have long historical traditions going back centuries like Palio of Siena, the famous horse riding. Other ones are the Calcio Storico in Florence or la Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo. I suggest you to be prepare during this festivals, most of the time are long journey in hot weather conditions. So take some information about it before go.
When Photograph Tuscany
The best time to visit Tuscany is the low season, that is, the months from April to June and September to October: the light is at the best and you can get really amazing colors a t the golden hours. Also the weather is generally nice, the prices are lower and there are fewer tourists. Instead is better to avoid the end of July and August, because it is very hot and the light is strong., Another months to consider are in winter is generally quite cold in the whole region, more than you normally imagine. You can find interesting weather condition to capture. Particularly the hilly areas of the hinterland, such as those of Siena and Cortona, can be cover by fogs. In some week also can snowfalls and minimum temperatures often below zero are possible.
Move around to Photograph Tuscany
The best way to travel for you photographic trip in Tuscany is by a private car. However this is one of the most expensive forms of travel in Italy, is perfect option to moving around particularly in country side. The train is the fastest way to get from one side of the region to the other. Indeed is the best way to go in the city like Florence or Pisa, the railway station is located in the centre. However speed and comfort vary wildly. Your rail experience will depend on where you’re traveling. In fact is great between the cities but not so the explore the small villages and countryside. Instead the bus are more useful for moving in the cities then outside it.
So when you going to photograph Tuscany respect the environment and stay away from problems. Usually the most strictly places are the church and the religious site. For having more information on responsible travel photography check my other post.
Travel Insurance to Photograph Tuscany
Getting a really god insurance. Like any destination, traveling with proper travel insurance is a must. Take care of yourself in the Italy.