Photography Tour 2016
This Italy photo tour was created with the intention of making it a dream tour and providing participants with a truly unique experience.
This Italy photo tour was created with the intention of making it a dream tour and providing participants with a truly unique experience. Though the emphasis will be on photography, it will be a cultural journey, capturing and enriching all of the senses – you’ll be inspired by the stunning architecture, rich and textured landscapes, enormous wealth of culture and history and of course… the food and wine!
Your tour leader, Renata Gryga, is a professional photographer based in Toronto, Canada. She is known primarily for the intuitive, organic way that she captures her subjects, and specializes in portraiture, travel, and event photography. Gryga travels on assignment, finding inspiration throughout the world's vastly varied landscapes, and deep within cultural hubs of artistic creativity. Her illustrious career has brought her to many countries around the world, including India, Bhutan, Peru, Bolivia, Cuba, and many nations across Europe.
In addition to nature photography, her particular specialty is capturing the vibrancy of Jazz festivals. Over the years, she has been commissioned to photograph at the Arizona Jazz Fest, Newport Jazz Fest, Berks Jazz Fest, Grand Rapids Jazz Festival, the Michigan Festivals Jazz on the River, and River Raisin, plus many other widely recognized music festivals,With this robust armature of photography experience, she has forged for herself an instantly recognizable personal style that is sought after for the natural intimacy of her pieces. We are thrilled to have Renata travel alongside us to provide yet another source of inspiration.
Today we arrive in Rome and transfer to our hotel.
Few cities in the world are as beautiful and glamorous as Rome. The Eternal City's ancient monuments and spectacular galleries are looking more magnificent than ever after an extensive restoration program. Overnight in Rome.
We begin our guided tour* of Rome at the 2,000 year old colosseum. Built to seat 55,000 spectators, this arena staged Rome's famed gladiator combats. Next, we walk through the Roman Forum where we will see the Curia, the Rostra, the Temple of Vesta, the Basilica of Constantine, and the Arch of Titus before continuing to Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill), the seat of the Roman Senate since the 12th century and the original citadel of the city. This beautiful square was redesigned by Michelangelo in the 16th century.
We arrive at Piazza Navona where we will break for an individual lunch at your choice of one of the many restaurants or cafés on or near the square. In the square itself, we can admire the impressive Fountain of the Four Rivers, with detailed figures representing the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Palata rivers.
After lunch we continue to the famous Trevi Fountain, designed by Nicholas Salvi in 1732. Throwing a coin into the fountain is said to ensure your safe return to Rome. We also visit the temple-turned-church called the Pantheon, and have the opportunity to admire its perfect proportions on our way to the Spanish steps, where we finish our day's tour. This day is balanced with a good amount of leisure time, with enough time to photograph the city.
Today we begin our visit to Vatican City with a guided tour through the Vatican Museums.* This amazing collection houses some of the most important Greek and Roman sculptures, Renaissance paintings, Flemish tapestries and mosaics. We also visit Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel to take in its breathtaking frescoes. Heading into the cavernous interior of St. Peter's Basilica, appreciate its many treasures, including Michelangelo's Pieta. At the end of the tour we visit the elegantly symmetrical Piazza St. Pietro.
* NOTE: The timing of today's sightseeing can vary depending on seasonality. Busier times often dictate an afternoon visit in order to avoid morning crowds. Weather may also be a consideration. Your Tour Leader will advise upon your arrival in Rome.
Overnight in Rome. Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
This morning we drive from Rome to Siena, a region famous for its wines. Siena today seems frozen in time, and is best seen on foot. As the centre of art and architecture in Tuscany, the town has traditionally been Florence's friendly. Enjoy this free time with your tour leader to take advantage of some hands-on photo ops through the city. Along this walking tour of Siena's charming medieval streets and squares is a visit to the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall), a famous example of Italian medieval architecture with Gothic influences.
Our next stop is the Duomo. This huge cathedral, built in bands of black and white marble, dates from the 12th Century. Built in the Romanesque and Italian Gothic styles, it has a dramatically painted façade -- partly designed by Giovanni Pisano -- and a soaring black and white bell tower. The inlaid marble floor depicts different Biblical scenes and the cathedral contains a glass-enclosed box with an arm. Tradition maintains that the arm is that of John the Baptist and was used to baptise Christ.
This afternoon we drive to San Gimignano, called the Manhattan of Tuscany. The medieval town preserves 13 of its noble brick towers, which give it a skyscraper skyline. Our drive this afternoon back to Siena takes us through the wine growing region of Chianti.
Overnight in Siena. Meal plan: Breakfast
This morning we drive through the beautiful and quintessential Tuscan rolling countryside to Volterra. Situated like many Etruscan cities on a high plateau, Volterra offers uninterrupted views over the surrounding hills. In many places the town's ancient Etruscan walls still stand.
We visit the city walls and the Etruscan Gate with its basalt heads of Etruscan gods dating back to the 6th century BC. Before leaving Volterra for our next stop in Pisa, we view the Roman amphitheatre. In Pisa, we will spend most of our time concentrating on the town's principal monuments -- the Duomo, the Baptistery, and the most famous structure in Pisa, the gravity-defying "Leaning Tower." We will take ample time to view and photograph the tower from the outside (to climb the tower requires advance reservations and a considerable amount of time to queue for entry; time constraints make this impractical for our tour).
We continue to Cinque Terre Overnight. Meal plan: Breakfast
Here we begin our easy-paced walk between the coastal villages starting with Cinque Terre. This spectacular section of the Italian Riviera is considered to rival the Amalfi Coast near Naples for its stunning views and gorgeous sunsets. This day is reserved for photography and hands-on work shopping with your guide. Rest of the day is free for work shop.
Overnight in Florence. Meal plan: Breakfast
Florence is a city steeped in history and art. Our walking tour today begins with a guided tour of Europe's first Academy, which today houses a superb art collection, including Michelangelo's David. We then proceed to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo), and continue along the pedestrian mall to the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence and the only one in the city to survive World War II. The Ponte Vecchio was built in 1345 and used to be lined with butchers' shops which have now been replaced by rows of gold and silver shops on both sides. At the Piazza Santa Croce, we stop to admire the facade of the Franciscan church of the same name. Inside we see the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei and chapels covered in frescoes by Giotto.
Today will be balanced with a good deal of leisure time to photograph.
For those wishing to take advantage of the early light, Renata will offer a pre-breakfast photography session close to the hotel. There are some great canal and bridge compositions nearby. After breakfast, we will make our way to the Dosoduro Sestiere. We love this district for getting away from crowds. Meandering East past the church of Santa Maria della Salute, we make our way to Punta della Dogana, a spectacular viewing spot looking out over the San Marco Basin, San Marco Square, the Giudecca and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Lunch can be taken with the group or on your own. After lunch, Renata will introduce you to a few of this region's best kept secrets for capturing photographs. Free leisure time.
At afternoon, we will make one of the last elevator trips up to the top of San Mark’s clock tower, the Campanile. Rising 320 feet above San Marco Square, this would be a great time to break out your 200mm plus telephoto to capture graphic patterns of church domes, tile rooftops, people, pigeons, chairs, and tables illuminated by the low slanting light at day’s end. Dinner in one of the many fine eating establishments off the beaten path frequented by locals.
After a leisurely breakfast we will make our way via vaporetto down the Grand Canal to roam the Rialto Fish and Produce Market. We will explore the San Polo and Santa Croce Sestieri districts, both wonderful areas for mid-day photography of canals and bridges and the slender and stealth gondolas cruising by. We will observe the stunning interior courtyard and stairwell of a 15th century palazzo. This courtyard also features a beautifully carved Venetian cistern (well) made from Istrian marble. We will visit the Jewish Ghetto in the Canneregio district. The word “ghetto” is derived from Venetian Italian and this was in fact the “First Ghetto.” A sad aspect of Venetian history, but an interesting place and lovely quiet campo to visit nonetheless. We will have an early dinner in the Canneregio before making our way to the Rialto Bridge for pre-sunset shooting from the bridge. We will then take the high speed train to Rome. Overnight in Rome. Meals plan: Breakfast
Breakfast at hotel, then private transfer to Fiumicino airport