Italy: Florence, Tuscany Hill Towns, and Venice - Live It, Love It, Shoot It

Tour Intro

The Strabo Photo Tour Collection is proud to announce a special tour to Italy, led by accomplished photographer and instructor Nancy Ori.

Nancy will take you to her favorite locations in Florence, the hill towns of Tuscany, and the canals of Venice. This departure is intended for people of all levels of interest and accomplishment in film, or digital photography. While the emphasis will be on photography, this is also a cultural journey, which we believe will enhance your ability to capture the essence of Tuscany in your images. Along with the local guides, Nancy will take you to photo locations you could not access on your own, including monasteries, churches, and vineyards. In Florence, there will be quiet, pre-dawn photo walks led by Nancy. She will take you to premier photographic locations to capture the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Corridor, and the Duomo. In Venice early morning shoots will take you along the Grand Canal. While we have specific itineraries, we have the flexibility to take advantage of photographic opportunities we find along the way.

The first part of your trip begins in the capital of Tuscany, Florence, and the city where the Renaissance began. It is a living museum of art and culture. We will explore its streets, piazzas, and architecture in the company of excellent guides. A short drive from Florence transports us into the beautiful Tuscan countryside. We will stay in Chianti, among the best-preserved landscapes in Italy, some virtually unchanged since artists depicted them five hundred years ago. The region has large areas of woodlands, interspersed with vineyards and dotted with medieval towns high on hills and ridges. The quality of light here has inspired generations of artists. Venice, legendary city of art and the capital of the Veneto region, is built on an archipelago of more than a 100 small islands separated by a dense network of 177 canals, and joined by 400 small bridges. Water is everywhere, shaping the life of the city, and reflecting its compelling beauty. The city is an exotic blend of Gothic, Byzantine and Renaissance styles, and appears today much as it did in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Venice is a wonderful city to explore on foot. As you wander the streets and alleys, you’ll see dark passageways that end in sunlit squares, palatial buildings lining the canals, ornate bridges spanning the waterways, and beautiful cathedrals in every quarter. Your tour will include a visit to the tiny island of Burano, scarcely more than a half-mile wide and a forty-minute boat ride across the lagoon. Burano is one of the most colorful and photogenic places anywhere.

We always welcome tour companions who are not photographers. There are interesting aspects of Italian life waiting to be explored in every location. In Florence, the countless museums, churches, markets, restaurants, and stores within walking distance of the hotel, make the city a desirable destination for any traveler. The quaint Tuscan villages offer wonderful landscapes, local markets, piazzas, and small shops to be enjoyed by all who might like to sketch, write, or simply appreciate the culture of Italy. The trip’s leisurely pace will provide ample opportunity to wander through medieval hill towns, and feast on the renowned regional foods and wines.

Tour Highlights

• Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, with its rich tapestry of history depicted in its architecture, sculptures, and paintings
• Stay in a Tuscan Villa, with its grapevines and cypress trees
• Tuscany’s medieval hill towns: Monteriggioni, Pienza, San Gimignano, Volpaia, Radda in Chianti, and others, equally well-preserved
• Departure limited to 12 participants to optimize your photographic experience
• Canals of the Veneto: Including day trip to the lovely island of Burano, optional stops at Murano or Torcello

Tour Itinerary

October 2: Home

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

Depart on your overnight flight to Florence. The group tour will begin tomorrow at the hotel. Please note your airline ticket will need to be issued multi city: Home-FLR/VCE-Home. (If you would like days on your own in Florence prior to the tour starting please contact Strabo Tours for additional evenings at the hotel.)

October 3: Arrival in Florence
Florence - Arno River

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

Meet around 6PM today at the hotel for an orientation and Welcome Reception, providing your first taste of Florence’s exceptional food and wine. Afterwards, if you wish to explore, there are restaurants and snack bars nearby. Overnight Florence (Evening Welcome Reception)

October 4: The Magic of Florence

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

Rise early this morning for a sunrise photo shoot with Nancy, for those who want to walk through the deserted streets to photograph the city before it awakens. Return to the hotel for breakfast, meeting your guide afterwards to begin your tour of the city. Being in the heart of Florence, your hotel affords us a perfect location so that you can easily reach on foot the famous Ponte Vecchio, the most popular and oldest bridge that spans the Arno River. Just beyond the bridge are the massive Pitti Palace, originally built in the fifteenth century, and the Boboli Gardens, a maze of gardens and sculptures that covers acres. If you are looking for a good view, take a brisk walk up the hill, or take a taxi to the terrace coffee shop or the ramparts of Forte Belvedere, located just behind the gardens.

We will take some time to photograph Florence’s Duomo, a magnificent cathedral whose massive dome was designed by Brunelleschi. The cathedral offers endless facets and details to explore. If you feel adventurous, climb to the dome’s cupola or to the top of the adjacent bell tower — the four hundred steps are truly breathtaking!

Florence’s town square, the Piazza della Signoria, has been the heart of political life since the fourteenth century. The spacious Piazza and adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi contain numerous sculptures that hold an important place in Florentine art. Among them are the Bartolomeo Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune that commemorates Tuscan naval victories, and Cellini’s Perseus. The Piazza also is home to the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), built in the thirteenth century, and the Uffizi Gallery, where many of the world’s great art treasures are housed.

We will also visit local markets, artisan shops, and spend time photographing the sunset with Nancy, with the streetlights lining the bridges across the Arno. In the evening, you can go to a restaurant with the group, or go out on your own for dinner. (Breakfast)

October 5-8: The Tuscan Countryside
Tuscany Hill Town

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

The next four evenings will be spent at a villa, located in the heart of Chianti, twenty-one miles south of Florence. The contrast between the city and the Tuscan countryside is striking. The narrow city streets are replaced with vineyards, woods, and rolling hills. Today, more than sixty percent of Chianti remains forested, as there are strict limits on how much land can be cultivated.

Day trips allow us to visit a number of Tuscany’s most picturesque towns, although we can’t visit them all, here is a sample of those surrounding this region: Radda in Chianti is a small village set high on a hill that retains its medieval town plan. Seven kilometers north we come across Volpaia, one of Chianti’s most beautiful fortified villages. Volpaia was built out of honey-colored stone and boasts a castle from the tenth century. Montefioralle is a fourteenth century hamlet, perched on a ridge that overlooks the town of Greve in Chianti. A bit further south is Castellina in Chianti, a charming town, featuring a tunnel street that served as a soldiers’ walk back in the days when the town was a Florentine bastion. Another destination is Monteriggioni, one of the most perfectly preserved fortified villages in all of Italy. Dante mentioned its vantage points in the Inferno, as the circle of Titans guarding the lowest level of Hell.

About an hour away from the Villa is San Gimignano, one of the most picturesque of the Italian hill towns. It is known as the “city of the beautiful towers”. Fourteen of the seventy original towers remain, giving the town a striking appearance. Historically, San Gimignano was very prosperous back in the Middle Ages when important pilgrim and trade routes passed through its center. San Gimignano’s narrow streets and alleyways, courtyards, churches, Duomo, and stunning artwork provide a wealth of opportunities for you to explore with your camera. Near Pienza, we may visit the Monastery of Sant’ Antimo, a splendid Romanesque abbey and church built around the year 1100, set in quiet, unspoiled surroundings. Overnights Villa in Tuscany (Breakfasts and dinners daily, one lunch is included at a local vineyard)

October 9: Venice
Venice Gondolas

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

Enjoy your last early morning sunrise shoot in Tuscany just outside your door at the Villa. Return for breakfast and you will then be whisked away to Venice. Laura, your local Venetian guide will assist you with travel to the hotel, where you will check-in and reconvene in the hotel lobby for an introductory tour of the Ducal Palace, one of the city’s most significant monuments.

The Ducal Palace is the most stunning civil building in the city; it is situated at one end of the Piazza San Marco along with its great Basilica and its towering Campanile or bell tower. The Piazza is flanked by arcades of shops and open-air cafés, and was built in 1340 to be the home of the Duke – the head of the Venetian State – and the seat of government. Nearby, the famous Bridge of Sighs arches over a narrow canal. Overnights Villa Venice (Breakfast, Dinner)

October 10-11: Venice - A City of Merchants & Churches
Venice Burano

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

Given appropriate weather conditions, Nancy will plan sunrise photo shoots along the Grand Canal and in other scenic locations. We will be back at our hotel in time for breakfast. After breakfast, Laura, a native Venetian, will begin acquainting us with some of the less frequented, yet equally fascinating areas of the city. You will surely enjoy this off-the-beaten path, through narrow alleyways and across bridges to discover the beauty and structure of Venice. You will learn about the city’s origins, how its magnificent palaces were constructed “on water”, and aspects of present and past Venice.

Cross the Grand Canal to reach the Rialto, once the commercial heart of the city. Now it is a colorful and bustling market with fresh fish, fruit and vegetable stalls. Follow Laura through a maze of alleyways that once defined the “red-light” district to reach the Church of San Polo. There you can admire Giandomenico Tiepolo’s Stations of the Cross, painted in 1747, showing all the figures depicted in eighteenth century costumes. Proceeding to the Frari Church, the most imposing example of religious Gothic architecture in Venice, you can admire Titian’s masterpiece, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Given time in the afternoon Laura will cross the Grand Canal with you to St. Giorgio’s Belltower where you can obtain aerial views of this imposing city. A Benedictine Monastery that has been in operation since the tenth century.

The next day Nancy you will explore several islands in the lagoon with Nancy. Burano is a quiet island of winding streets and canals lined with fishing boats. What makes it especially picturesque are the tiny houses washed in bright colors, resembling something from the pages of a storybook. You will find Torcello Island to be quite the opposite; it is practically deserted with a population of only sixty people. Despite its low census, the island houses the beautiful Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Venice's first cathedral. Those interested in glassware may stop at the island of Murano, famous for its unique and colorful selections. Overnight Villa Venice (Breakfasts)


October 12: Venice
Venice Canal

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

Today will be a free day for optional museum visits, or continue photographing with Nancy, taking the Vaporetto to San Michele, the island cemetery of Venice. Studded with dark cypresses and enclosed within high terracotta walls, the island is worth a visit. The cemetery itself rambles over most of the island; with its carved tombstone and chapels it has a curious fascination. Nancy will organize another sunset shoot this evening, with wonderful views over the Santa Maria della Salute Church, lights reflecting in the canals, and buildings lit by the glow of lanterns. Overnight Villa Venice (Breakfast)

October 13: Venice - Onward Destinations
Venice Gondolas

Photo By: Nancy Ori

Photo Location: Italy

Depart late morning or after for your flight home. (Breakfast)

Photo Leader

Nancy Ori
read more
Nancy Ori

To view a slide show of Nancy's images from her photo programs to Cuba, click here:  Cuba travel program with Nancy Ori      It's a perfect of example of the wonderful opportunities you will explore with her.

Nancy Ori, photography instructor and experienced tour leader
Nancy J. Ori is respected internationally for over 30 years as an industrial photographer and video producer and enjoys teaching photography and painting workshops throughout the United States and Europe. Nancy was affiliated for many years with the Ansel Adams Workshop in California and is now on the faculty in New Jersey of numerous art centers and museums. In 1990, she established The NJ Heritage Workshops for Photography and Painting, which she holds each spring in Cape May. And in 1995 she founded and directs the New Jersey Photography Forum, a group of professional and serious amateur photographers that meet regularly to discuss their work and exhibit within the state. The group is now 18 years old and is the largest group of exhibiting fine art photographers in New Jersey.

Photographing in the West Coast tradition of her long-time mentor, Ansel Adams, Nancy expresses her own interpretation of the landscape and architecture. Her photographs reveal a love of light, shadow and form in natural and man-made settings. They are powerful documentations of the land expressing its vulnerability and endurance.

Nancy's teaching style is casual and supportive but with great passion. One of her students sums it up nicely: "The workshop was wonderful, and hard and fulfilling and really fun! As usual, you were brilliant, prepared, encouraging, insightful and organized. Thanks again for your passion, and for all the fun and knowledge my annual "photography camp" puts in my life."  Carol

Ori’s work has been widely published and exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and Europe. View Nancy’s website for detailed information or call her at 908-790-8820.

It’s always enlightening and enjoyable listening to you and discussing things. The vast majority of time, after attending a workshop (which I rarely do anymore), l leave feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. However, there is something about your approach that, following time spent w/you, I go away encouraged and motivated. It’s a bonus to get applicable business contact info, and some written reference material, but it’s the feeling of, “hmmm, I can do this...”, that makes all the difference. And for that, I thank -you. Glenn, freelance photographer


Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 6 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Additional Notes


Each of the areas we will visit has something unique to offer, and we will have time to explore them at leisure. In each location, there will be options for either going with a local guide and emphasizing the informational aspects, slowing down and concentrating on a few special locations with your photographic guide, or exploring entirely on your own.

The trip is suitable for virtually every level of photography or special interest. Although it is geared for photographers, non-photographers will get a great deal from the experience as well. The pace is suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit. To get the most out of the trip, you should be able to walk for several miles a day. There are sometimes hills to climb.

Please call us at 607-756-8676 if you have any specific questions on fitness or health.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.


Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.


The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.


Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.


The accommodations that have been chosen combine simple elegance with excellent location. In Florence, you will stay at a small, family-run hotel in an ideal location. Centrally located in a quiet neighborhood, yet just a fifteen-minute walk from the major sites of the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo. In the Tuscan countryside, you will stay in a meticulously restored country villa. It provides an absolutely perfect location for country walks and day trips to Tuscan hill towns and villages. 

Food & Drink

Lunches will be informal, taken in one of the many shops that sell delicious sandwiches, pizza, pastry, and other delights. This will allow maximum flexibility, the cost can be reasonable at $10 or up to $20-25 depending what is ordered. Dinners will be slightly higher or ranging from $15, cafeteria style or sit down restaurants can be $30 or $35. Venice can be 10-20% higher. Your guide will give you ideas where to eat if you wish to dine on your own, or you can go with your guide to a local restaurant s/he chooses.

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