After a week of visiting the hill towns of Tuscany and Umbria with Anne it was time to say goodbye to her and start the photo workshop with Italian landscape photographer Paolo De Faveri. The first 3 days of the tour will be based in Pienza, Tuscany and the last 3 days will be from Cinque Terrence. My friend Sue, was joining me for the rest of my time in Italy.
The plan was to take the rental car back to Florence and meet Paolo there at 3pm. Sue and I had a great morning. We checked out of the timeshare by mid morning and decided to take the longest, slowest and prettiest drive we could find (without a toll road) to get to Florence. The normal drive would only be an hour. We wanted to enjoy the scenery to the fullest and drive through tiny little towns that didn’t normally have tourists. We were totally successful and had a great day – until the last 20 minutes (2 km) of our drive. That’s when google map totally messed up and put us in the “ancient” part of Florence that had tiny, narrow streets – not meant for any type of modern vehicle. These roads are totally off limits to anyone who did not have a special permit.
I was driving – and to be honest, I was totally freaked out when faced with these “forbidden” roads. Sue was a tower of strength. She just kept saying – Sheila go – you can do this – you have to do this – we cant back up! We finally made it through – and were smart enough to confess to the rental company that we went in forbidden territory. They took us over to an “official” who forgave our sins for one euro. Had we not confessed, we would have received a huge fine several months later.
We were so happy to meet Paolo – and get in the passenger seat of his car. We drove south to our first accommodation and made a couple of stops to take a few pictures and capture our first sunset.
We arrived at our “castle” shortly after dark. We were blown away when we discovered it really was a castle – built in the 1200’s. The place was beautiful and the breakfast each day was amazing – and omg – the freshly picked tomatoes!
Following are just a few of the many landscapes we were lucky enough to experience while in Tuscany. Paolo shared many photography tips and opened our eyes to the endless possibilities of subject matter and composition. We have been up early each morning (as Sue would say . . .at half past stupid) to be in position to catch first light and have toured around to incredible hidden sites and ended up in the perfect location to catch sunset – if the clouds would co-operate. We are tired – but happy with our shots to date.
I have tried to limit myself to the number of pictures on this blog so you, as the reader are not put to sleep.
Below are typical sites around Pienza. The tall slender cypress trees, olive trees, grapevines and sun soaked rolling hills make this place special. Now I understand why so many people love it here.