Tuscany in Springtime

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Tuscany is a land of honey-toned light where countryside and cityscape blend in a truly idyllic setting.  Here, timeless vistas are enveloped by the celebrated gossamer light that falls on this land.  And in springtime the vibrant greens of vineyard, field, hedgerow and forest erupt in a verdant exuberance as far as the eye can see. Picturesque hamlets are landscaped with flowering gardens at their most colorful time of year.

This premier region of central Italy has remained virtually unchanged for centuries—blessed by nature and renowned for its art and history, picturesque medieval villages, and ethereal landscapes that are some of the most photogenic in the world.  At the heart is the cathedral city of Pisa, historically one of the most important and influential of Tuscan cities.  During the 11th century, Pisa rose to prominence as one of the major republics of Italy as investments poured into the city—and built the iconic monuments now known around the world.

Discover this medieval gem and its neighboring regions of Chianti and Pienza with us over several days.  Photograph the vast tapestries of nature, architecture and culture that some of Italy’s finest regions have to offer. Undulating hills are lined with carefully tended vineyards and olive groves, while winding roads twist up to medieval hilltop villages. Chianti’s impressive Monteriggion is one of the region’s most intact walled and fortified towns, perfectly rounded to suit the hill it was built upon in the early 1200s.  Its towers were so impressive that it is mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy.  In these and other towns we discover narrow alleys, picturesque doorways and windows, and bustling local outdoor markets.

In Pienza, the classic dark-green cypress trees of Tuscany lift against the sky, the trees outlining the rural roads and accenting isolated farmhouses.  Olive groves, orchards, and vineyards are counterbalanced with ancient walled towns and villages accented by stucco walls and tiled roofs.  Of course, we have ample time to enjoy the fresh local cuisine (after all, we are in Italy!) and to try a glass of class of local wine if so desired. Tuscany offers the perfect blend of town and country, of old and new, of grand vistas and intimate details—all combined in one exceptional photo tour.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart on flights from the US.
 
Day 2 (May 29)
Arrive in Pisa, Italy, and transfer from the airport by hotel shuttle on your own. We meet in the hotel lobby at 6:30 PM and walk to a local restaurant for dinner.  (D)  
 
Day 3
A full day to explore the cathedral city of Pisa. Our centrally-located hotel is only a short walk from the Piazza del Duomo (Piazza dei Miracoli) and Pisa’s iconic Leaning Tower. The River Arno, lined with colorful buildings, carves through this historic part of Pisa.  In the evening we photograph the river itself, with street lights and buildings reflected in the tranquil water. (BLD)
 
Day 4
We travel to Radda in the Chianti region of Tuscany, stopping for photography en route—this area boasts some of the most beautiful bucolic landscapes in the world. The region topography is miles of rolling hills, showcased with its vineyards, cypress-lined roads, and medieval towers. Spring is at its peak and, in the warming weather, the vineyards and woodlands have turned green, and olive groves hint at the coming abundance.  We’ll retire to the Villa Campomaggio, a classic country inn that will be our home base for three nights. (BLD) 
 
Days 5–6
During these two days we focus on the gently rounded hills draped with the rows of spring-green vineyards of the Chianti area. Colorful vines cling to walls of weathered stone and brick, and olive groves provide a silvery contrast. From our convenient and comfortable hotel situated in the hills near Radda, we make daily excursions throughout the Chianti region. We photograph the castle and town of San Gimignano, the walled town of Monteriggioni, and travel to the hilltop towns of Radda, Panzano and Montefioralle.  (BLD)
 
Day 7
We drive to Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the renowned Val d’Orcia, with time for afternoon photography after checking into our hotel. The entire valley in this iconic area has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Landscape. Open vistas of agricultural land—stretch over low hills off into the far horizon, punctuated by serpentine rows or small groupings of dark green cypress and isolated farmhouses. Our four nights in one convenient hotel situated only a few steps from the historical center of Pienza allow us ample time for photography in the area.  (BLD)
 
Day 8
We explore Pienza, built as a utopian town in the 15th century, including the Duomo with its light-flooded interior, and Palazzo Piccolomini, where the spectacular view from its loggia overlooks the Val d’Orcia and the extinct volcano Monte Amiata. Photogenic hilltop towns, including car-free Montepulciano, sit high on a limestone ridge overlooking the Val di Chiana, and Lucignano—a remarkable example of medieval town planning with its elliptical concentric rings of brick and stone buildings and narrow streets.  (BLD)
 
Day 9
In the morning we photograph at the beautiful Romanesque Abbey of Sant’Antimo near Montalcino. We visit Castello Banfi, a family-owned estate and winery in the Brunello region. We photograph the extensive vineyards, with opportunities for images of the cask and barrel rooms—racks of oak barrels create surprising patterns against warm woodwork and rustic tiled floors—and a delicious wine lunch are highlights of our day.  (BLD)
 
Day 10
En route to Chiusure our road travels through the textured gray clay “badland” landscapes of the Crete Senesi region. The town of Asciano lies amidst these Sienese clay hills and the winding roads in this area are spectacular. The brick-red Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore stands out in exquisite contrast on a hill green with columnar cypress trees. To reach the photogenically-isolated hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio we must walk a steep one-quarter-mile-long footbridge to a 2,500-year-old Etruscan gateway. Civita—stunningly-sited high on an ever-eroding tuff plateau—glows golden in the warm afternoon light. We follow crooked cobblestone lanes that wind among stone houses—a perfect setting to capture architectural details of stairways, doors and ivy-clad ancient stone walls and arches.  (BLD)
 
Day 11
We have one last morning to photograph in Pienza before we return to Pisa for an overnight at a convenient airport hotel.  (BLD)
 
Day 12 (Jun 8)
Depart for home.  (B)
 
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Tuscany in Springtime

May 28, 2021 - Jun 08, 2021


1. REGISTRATION
A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.

2. PAYMENTS, CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposit only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of trip fee
100% of trip fee


No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

3. TRIP INSURANCE
Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

4. HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

5. CONTACT SCHEDULE
Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to info@photosafaris.com.

6. PHOTO SAFARI COSTS
Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

7. LOGISTICS
Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

8. RESPONSIBILITY
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Tuscany in Springtime: Moderate Activity Level

Van transportation.  Photography from near the vans as well as walking on medieval cobblestone streets and occasionally across uneven ground.  Walking as much as one to three miles per day (total) on a few days.  Midday lunch breaks at restaurants and country inns.
Trip Details
May 28 - Jun 08, 2021
Fee: $6,695 from Pisa, Italy
Deposit: $800
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate
 
Highlights
  • Capture images of iconic landscapes and timeless medieval hilltop towns.
  • A full day to explore the cathedral city of Pisa, with its celebrated monuments like the Leaning Tower.
  • Three nights in Pienza allow ample time to explore the expansive countryside, medieval towers, abbeys and gardens in spring.
  • A visual tapestry of photogenic vineyards, cypress-lined roads, ancient stone and brick—all suffused with the incomparable glow of Tuscan light.
  • Savor the delicious regional cuisine and great local wine.
 
Tour Leaders
John Shaw

John Shaw

And local guide