Italy Photo Tour: Enchanted Italy

Tour Intro

Florence, Tuscany Hill Towns & Venice

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

Randy will take you to favorite locations in Florence, off the beaten path hill towns of Tuscany, and the canals of Venice. This departure is intended for people of all levels of interest and accomplishment in 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 a local guide, you will go 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. Premier photographic locations include capturing 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 off the beaten path
• 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: Randy Ziegler

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

Photo By: Randy Ziegler

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 Hotel Renaissance (Evening Welcome Reception)

October 4: The Magic of Florence

Photo By: Randy Ziegler

Photo Location: Italy

Rise early this morning for a sunrise photo shoot, for those who want to walk through the deserted streets to photograph the city before it awakens. Return to the hotel for breakfast, meet your guide afterwards to begin a 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 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

Photo By: Randy Ziegler

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 Villa Rosa 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 Rosa (Breakfasts and dinners daily, one lunch is included at a local vineyard)
 

October 9: Venice
Venice Boat

Photo By: Randy Ziegler

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 Igea (Breakfast, Dinner)
 

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

Photo By: Randy Ziegler

Photo Location: Italy

Given appropriate weather conditions, sunrise photo shoots will be planned 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 you will explore several islands in the lagoon with your photo leader. 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 Igea (Breakfasts)

October 12: Venice

Photo By: Randy Ziegler

Photo Location: Italy

Today will be a free day for optional museum visits, or continue photographing, 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. 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 Igea (Breakfast)

October 13: Venice - Onward Destinations
Bike

Photo By: Randy Ziegler

Photo Location: Italy

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

Photo Leader

Randy Ziegler
read more
Randy Ziegler

I love using natural light as my artistic light source given how it can accentuate and express the color medium.  I strive in my workshops to help photographers appreciate and become more sensitive to the natural, organic quality of light and color in the world around them.  I also work with them to elevate their awareness of how natural light and color can further enhance and reveal the essence of their subjects.

A major theme of my photography tours is teaching photographers to see better.  The hallmark of a good photographer is to be able to see something most people never notice, and bring the necessary artistic elements together to create a memorable photograph.  In the end, to take great images you have to see greatly.  I want to energize their seeing so that they will leave my tours with a renewed confidence in their ability to capture the enchanted moments of life that may never happen again.

Randy Ziegler is a Texas-based internationally published and respected natural light photographer with over 35 years behind the lens.  His photographs appear in books, corporate installations and private collections.  During his career, he has photographed several world-renowned people including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Former First Lady Barbara Bush and Lesley Stahl with 60 Minutes.  Randy is a visual storyteller using his camera to capture life in response to the moments when the play of light, the drama of color, and the gestures of life unfold before him.

Randy is the recipient of several awards and recognitions including the Mayo Clinic Karis Humanitarian Award, the International Print Media Communicator Award of Excellence, and the Platinum MarCom Creative Award. Where some of his published work has appeared:  Mayo Clinic, New York Times, Nikon, Business Week, Four Seasons Hotels, and Newsweek-Japan.

A graduate of Concordia University, Minnesota he also attended the Rochester Institute of Technology College of Graphic Arts and Photography, New York where he strengthen his knowledge of illustrative photography. Randy continues to expand his education and share his passion for photography by teaching photographers at his workshops, photo tours, and lectures.

 

One year ago I was exploring photography trips and came across Strabo Tours. For numerous reasons, I chose to participate in “The Contrast and Colors of Morocco” - March 5 -17 2016.  Randy Ziegler led this tour. In preparation for this trip I contacted Randy and asked numerous questions about what to bring on the trip with an emphasis on equipment.  Randy responded enthusiastically and provided subtle suggestions for additions to my existing equipment and was sensitive to my budget. Due to Randy’s positive energy and wise council during the preparation for this trip, I arrived in Morocco with the proper equipment for my ability. 

I was overwhelmed by Morocco … its sights, smells, light and culture.  Everything met or exceeded my expectations regarding accommodations, knowledgeable local guide, convenience of travel and meals.  But I didn’t go on this tour just for a great travel experience with a camera in hand, I went to learn, to improve my photographic skills to take the best shots I could. Randy took the time to review all the settings on my camera and make suggestions to get better pictures.  In addition to looking for light, colour, and gesture, as is Randy’s mantra, I found I was looking at potential shots differently.Yes the trip to Morocco coupled with Randy’s tutelage enabled me to broaden my perspective on what I see through the lens.

My learning curve did not end when I stepped of the plane in Toronto. I found I was more eager to experiment with my camera and with postproduction software.  I played with every setting on my camera. A year has come and gone since I first decided to participate in the Strabo tour and that tour is still having an impact on what see through my lens.  I want to thank Jacque for making the trip possible and Randy for sharing photographic nuggets during the trip and being a positive resource afterwards.

Thank You


 

D. Windsor

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 10 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 6-9 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.

Testimonials

I can't thank you enough for the time you spent with me.  What a special day.  I think I had brain overload but in such a good way.  Your enthusiasm to pass along your wonderful gift is incredible.

Connie

Jack and I would like to thank you very much for the wonderful workshop. The experience was invaluable. We particularly love traveling and learning with a group that enjoys photography as much as we do. Above all, we appreciate your instruction. You are always so willing to share your expertise, wisdom and insights. Bravo!

Phyllis

I observed your passion – to see a glimpse through your eyes – walking (sometime running) to see the shot that is sometimes a fleeting moment. To watch you get excited - and willing to share your expertise. That is so rare – especially someone at your level – to work with people such as myself who have no clue.  I hope your plans for future workshops will include the same format for the participants – to observe and actively participate ‘in the process’.  You, my friend, are a Master Teacher.

janice

Additional Notes

ABOUT YOUR LEADER
I love using natural light as my artistic light source given how it can accentuate and express the color medium.  I strive in my workshops to help photographers appreciate and become more sensitive to the natural, organic quality of light and color in the world around them.  I also work with them to elevate their awareness of how natural light and color can further enhance and reveal the essence of their subjects.

A major theme of my photography tours is teaching photographers to see better.  The hallmark of a good photographer is to be able to see something most people never notice, and bring the necessary artistic elements together to create a memorable photograph.  In the end, to take great images you have to see greatly.  I want to energize their seeing so that they will leave my tours with a renewed confidence in their ability to capture the enchanted moments of life that may never happen again.
 

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

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.

Exceptions:

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.

Insurance

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.

Accommodations

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. You will have a light breakfast before departing for the day and return to a traditional Tuscan meal in the evening.

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