Photo by: Charles Needle
Location: Tuscany Italy

Italy: Impressions of Tuscany with Charles Needle

April 24-May 4, 2022 Tuscany Program also available with Charles with a Venice Extension May 4-7

  • Photo tips and guidance offered by Charles Needle, with his expertise in macro-photography and his impressionistic style.
  • Maximum of twelve participants to ensure quality instruction and enjoyment.
  • Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, with the rich tapestry of history depicted in its architecture, sculptures, and Italian gardens.
  • The Tuscan countryside, much of it unchanged over hundreds of years: mile after mile of orderly rows of grapevines, cypress trees piercing the skyline, village and fortress towns that crown nearly every hilltop.





May 7-17, 2022


10 days

$Estimated 4295

per person, double occupancy*

*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 8 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 6-7 participants. 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 (subject to availability), or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, there is a single room surcharge of $795.

Tour Overview

Charles has designed this amazing journey, taking you to the heart of Tuscany during the peak spring flowering season. If you have ever dreamed of a trip to Italy to photograph gardens and rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, then this is the trip for you.  May is one of the best times to visit Italy, as the weather is lovely, the landscape is fresh green, and it is prior to the major tourist season.

What to expect on your trip:

  • Photograph...

Charles has designed this amazing journey, taking you to the heart of Tuscany during the peak spring flowering season. If you have ever dreamed of a trip to Italy to photograph gardens and rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, then this is the trip for you.  May is one of the best times to visit Italy, as the weather is lovely, the landscape is fresh green, and it is prior to the major tourist season.

What to expect on your trip:

  • Photograph for nine days during peak spring bloom in the gardens, vineyards, and rolling hills of Tuscany.
  • You’ll also have the opportunity to hone your macro skills with a palette of Iris, Roses, and Wisteria.
  • Informal image reviews and lectures will be interspersed throughout your time in Tuscany. Field instruction emphasizes creative macro, impressionistic, multiple- exposure, and artistic smartphone photography.

Charles Needle and Strabo Tours have fine-tuned this trip by adding some great spots and wonderful towns that Charles has explored. The first part of your trip will center on Florence, the capital of Tuscany, the city where the Renaissance began. It is a living museum of art and culture. Explore and photograph the gardens, streets and piazzas.

Depart city life and be transported into the beautiful Tuscan hill towns. Discover picturesque medieval villages surrounding San Gimignano. Then travel south to photograph iconic Tuscan landscapes surrounding Pienza, one of the most charming, quintessential villages in all of Tuscany, with its charming narrow streets and artisan Pecorino cheese shops.

You will be 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. Your journey will explore this glorious land in depth. Everywhere there is something of compelling beauty, curiosity, and interest — brilliant architecture, classic Tuscan landscapes, the daily life of the people themselves, providing continuity between past and present. There will also be time to relax and have photo discussions.

The emphasis of your trip is on photography, yet this is much more than a photographic tour. Charles welcomes tour companions who are not photographers. There are interesting aspects of Italian life waiting to be explored in every location. The trip’s leisurely pace will provide ample opportunity to wander through medieval hill towns and feast on the renowned regional foods and wines.

Photo Leader

Charles Needle

Tour Itinerary

May 7: Home

Depart on an overnight flight to Florence. The group tour will begin tomorrow evening from the hotel (time estimated around 4PM).

May 8-10: Florence

Arrive in Florence Airport (FLR) this morning or early afternoon of April 25, taking a taxi to the hotel. The group will assemble this afternoon in the hotel lobby where you will have an introductory meeting, followed by photography walks in the Iris and Rose Gardens of Florence. The gardens are on either side of the Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers a panoramic view of the city.

A sunrise walk will be planned the next day with Charles to photograph the famous Ponte Vecchio, the most popular and oldest bridge that spans the Arno River. This is an excellent time to photograph Florence, as it prepares for another day. Return to breakfast at the hotel and be ready to explore on a city walking tour with your local guide. After a break at the hotel organized taxi rides will take participants to the beautiful terraced garden of the Bardini family, with amazing views of the city. Begin at the top of the park, where you can follow the paths down to the Arno. If the spring bloom cooperates, there may be wandering vines of purple Wisteria. Take a short break at the hotel and then enjoy a sunset shoot with Charles at the Ponte Vecchio Bridge.

Enjoy another full day on foot with Charles, taking time to photograph Florence’s town square, the Piazza della Signoria, and the 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 tower — the four hundred steps are worth it for a truly breathtaking scene! You can also visit the local markets and artisan shops, and areas where scenes of daily life are played out in the squares and streets. There will be free time this afternoon to enjoy on your own at one of the many art museums of the city. Late this afternoon or early evening there will be a photo presentation, or lecture by Charles at the hotel. Excursions during the tour will be based on the weather and light. Overnight Florence (Welcome Reception; B, L; B)

May 11-12: San Gimignano

The next two evenings of the tour you will stay in the heart of 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. It also was a strategic site in the political struggles of the region. The narrow streets and alleyways, courtyards, churches, Duomo, and stunning artwork provide a wealth of opportunities for you to explore with your camera.

Your location allows you 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: Volpaia, one of Chianti’s most beautiful fortified villages. It was built out of honey-colored stone and boasts a castle from the tenth century, Castellina in Chianti, a charming town, featuring a tunnel street that served as a soldier’s walk back in the days when the town was a Florentine bastion. Dante mentioned its vantage points in the Inferno, as the circle of Titans guarding the lowest level of Hell. One day, you will take a break in the afternoon to photograph amidst the vineyards at a special wine tasting lunch. Overnight San Gimignano (B, L winery; B, D)

May 13-16: Pienza

Check out of San Gimignano hotel and drive to Pienza, a beautiful hill town that has a picturesque central plaza and was built according to architectural plans that later were used in building some of Italy’s most beautiful and famous structures. Photograph among Pienza’s charming narrow streets and visit specialty food stores. Pienza is known for its Pecorino cheeses. You will explore Pienza and the surrounding hills from your stay at a lovely hotel.


Rise early the next day for a sunrise shoot in the Val d’Orcia, where you will photograph a Tuscan villa with rollng hills and valleys bathed in golden morning light. Return to hotel for breakfast and then visit other villages, such as Monticchiello and Montepulciano. There will be an afternoon excursion to photograph the pastoral landscape of San Quirico d’Orcia, which has made this region so well known amongst painters and photographers.

The town of Montalcino is known for the Brunello grapes that grow on its slopes and the fortress that sits atop the town. Sant’Antimo is a nearby monastery, built around the year 1100, a splendid Romanesque abbey and church set in quite unspoiled surroundings, where we can explore the olive groves, vineyards, and natural area that surround the ancient building. Evening light field shoot at Bosco di Cipressi, an iconic group of cypress trees on a hillside.

Your last full day in Tuscany takes you to Villa La Foce, a fifteenth century hospice for pilgrims and merchants. It boasts your typical Italian garden style, each individual garden or ‘room’ closed off by box hedges and lemon trees. Stairs lead to the rose garden and wandering wisteria-covered pergola, with a panoramic view of over the Orcia Valley. The countryside we will be visiting has some of the most picturesque landscapes, and medieval villages, and we will take full advantage of these offerings for our photographic explorations. Excursions will be based on the weather and light, with time mid-day to take breaks, refreshment, and learn more about photography. Overnight Pienza (B, D cheese tasting; B; B; B, D)

May 17: Florence - Onward Destinations

The group will depart very early this morning after breakfast, a departure time will be given for flights home from Florence 11AM or after. You can also be taken to Florence train station if necessary. (B)