Intimate Tuscany Photo Workshop and Village Tour
Meet us in Siena, Italy’s loveliest medieval city. We’ll photograph and explore Siena’s charms, then move to our favorite farmhouse in the heart of southern Tuscany. We’ll travel in mini-vans through the landscapes of Val d’Orcia and Crete Sienese, with free time in Tuscany’s hill towns and the best little villages you’ve never heard of.
Let’s leave the crowds behind and savor the rolling Tuscany landscapes, quiet villages, authentic foods and local wines. Over the past 17 years Drake has crafted a truly authentic experience in Tuscany for photographers and their partners… part vacation, and part intense learning.
Date: May 6-12, 2018
Days: 7 days, 6 nights
Cost: $3450 / $2950
Begin and End in Siena or Florence
We recommend arriving in Florence or Rome two days early to enjoy some sightseeing on your own and acclimate to the time. Either city is about 2 hours from Siena by train. If you’re nervous about traveling alone in Italy, we will arrange for an airport pickup. We will suggest photogenic places to visit and some good hotels for your stay.
Meet us in Siena. We’ll pick you up at the train station
Welcome and introductions over a great pizza in the piazza
Check in to our historic-center hotel and immerse yourself in this ancient city
PM Visit Siena’s cathedral and Piazza del Campo, home of the world famous Palio bareback races
End the day photographing a panoramic view of the city, complete with wine and cheese
AM Photograph and explore a quieter neighborhood of Siena together
Travel to San Galgano Abbey, a picturesque roofless monastery in the fields of Tuscany
Settle in at Fattoria Pieve a Salti, our headquarters for 6 days
Enjoy our first rolling Tuscan hills sunset and a dinner prepared for us by chef at the farm
Sunrise on the Tuscany hills (optional… sleep in if you want)
Workshop Review and Critique
PM Landscapes and villages of the Crete Sienese…sheep on the hills and cypress lined roads
Hill-town visit to Pienza, famous for its pecorino cheeses and its romantic Renaissance architecture
An evening in the ridiculously photogenic Val d’Orcia
Picnic complete with wine and of course, pecorino cheese drizzled with honey
AM Optional sunrise landscapes near the farm
Free morning to relax and work on images
Or… take advantage of amenities at the farm. Options include a guided horse ride, get a massage, go into town to shop, borrow a mountain bike, or relax by the pool
PM Evening visit to photograph in Drake’s favorite (it’s a secret) Tuscany village where we dine ‘al fresco’ on a private patio
Hilltop landscape shooting into the blue hour
Workshop / Review and critique
PM Villages including pristine Montechiello, and more of those famous landscapes of the Val d’Orcia. Your portfolio will explode this day!
Dinner options include renowned Osteria La Porta
Sant’ Antimo Abbey (or) Monte Olivetto monestary, both wonderful
Hill town visit to Montalcino, home of famous Brunello wines
This day we leave somewhat open to the whims of the group and the instructors
Farewell dinner in peaceful Buonconvento, another taste of authentic Tuscany
Workshop wrap-up and final slideshow
Buonconvento lunch stop
3:00 pm Arrive at the Siena train station
After the workshop, we can help you arrange travel to Rome, Florence or Venice for departure
Based on interest, we can arrange for a cooking “experience” with our chef at the farm. Strap on an apron and prepare a meal with Franco for a truly authentic Tuscan kitchen experience
Outside of our short daily workshop sessions, non-photographer partners join all our excursions and meals with the group
Indoor and outdoor pools
Indoor and outdoor pools, spa, private restaurant, 360 degree views, and horse riding are just a few of the reasons this is Drake’s favorite place in Italy to relax.More about where we stay.
May 6-12, 2018
7 days, 6 nights
$3450 / participant
$2950 / partner sharing a room
Start and end in Siena, Italy. Arrive in any major Italian city, but Florence is recommended. By train, Siena is 2 hours from Florence, 3 hours from Rome, 5 hours from Milan or Venice.
Ground travel by minivan from Siena , returning to Siena.
6 nights accommodations. First night or two in the historic center of Siena, with the best view of the city right off your balcony. The remainder of nights in private apartments at Fattoria Pieve a Salti, a working 15th century farmhouse complex, fully remodeled with new A/C, TV, amenities including indoor and outdoor pools, spa, restaurant.
Luxurious breakfast each day at the farm
Dinner or lunch each day as we travel.
Wine tasting at famous Tuscan cantinas
Workshop tuition, including on-screen reviews of your daily work (voluntary) and one-on-one photographic instruction in the field throughout the week.
Trip insurance (recommended)
(Also not included are crowds, slow moving tour guides and lectures on the history of plague:)
Our curriculum has been tweaked and pruned over the years to offer you only essential tools you need. We recognize that we only have a week with you… no time to impress you with our expertise or bore you with technical trivia. Classroom time (one hour sessions) is devoted to reviewing your daily images on screen and offering helpful suggestions. In the field, our discussions center around better composition and finding great light. And of course, answering your technical questions and helping master your own equipment.
All experience levels are welcome. Our participants who are new to photography can work with any camera including smart phones. Small group instruction is tailored to help each member find their own style and and classroom reviews on-screen for those who want to submit daily. Non-photographer partners can sit in on all discussions and participate at their own level of interest. (Beginners tend to make some of the best images we see)
Drake Busath, the originator of Italy Workshops, has 30 years experience living and traveling in Italy. Drake speaks Italian and has guided hundreds of photographers of every skill level to favorite regions all over Italy. He will share what he’s learned over 35 years photographing Italy and encourage you to identify and develop your own personal style while in Italy. More about Drake…
A guest instructor, (to be announced) will join us in order to provide one-on-one help in the field all during the week. We like to have one instructor for each 6 participants so that everyone gets the attention and help needed.
For larger groups, a trip manager is added to the staff. This person keeps you informed at all times about the schedule and helps you find what you need when you need it, ie: bathrooms, gelato, convenience stores, etc. Having a trip manager allows the instructors to instruct full time and is your guarantee of a safe and smooth week of learning.
We make it a point to invite friends with special talents as guests on the workshops, for example we’ve been fortunate to have writer Dr. Ray Ownbey travel journaling skills. Other guests have included world class portrait photographers Michael Taylor, Tim Walden, editing software guru Kevin Kubota, landscape and wildlife expert Dennis Hammon, editorial photographer Jeff Allred, night-scape specialist Royce Bair and Italian pro Luigi Barbano. You never know who you’ll be rubbing shoulders with on the next workshop!
Reserving your Spot
Please reserve early as group size is extremely limited. You can reserve your spot on our website, or by calling us at 801-364-6645. Ask for Jamie Shaw or Drake Busath. Payments may be made with Visa, MasterCard or American Express, or you may send a check.
Checks should be sent to
701 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84102.
Upon payment of your deposit, we will send you an information packet including suggestions for camera equipment, computer and software, clothing and travel information specific to your workshop destination.
A reservation fee of $500 will hold your spot
50% of balance is due 120 days prior to your workshop
The balance of payment is due 60 days prior to your workshop
We use hotels rated 3 or 4 stars, always with private bath. Rooms are assigned in order of reservations received, so early signup is recommended. Ask about premium rooms, at some workshop locations for an additional supplement charge.
Fees are based on double occupancy. Single supplement may be added for participants who wish to have a private room to themselves. Supplements vary depending on the hotels used. If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room with another participant, please let us know and we’ll do our best to match you with a roommate.
Cancellation fee schedule
There is no charge for cancellation within ten days of booking your workshop.
After ten days, reservation fees are non-refundable but may be applied to a future workshop event.
Cancellations less than 90 days prior to workshop incur a cancellation fee of 25% of the total workshop cost.
Cancellations less than 45 days prior to workshop incur a cancellation fee of 50% of the total workshop cost.
Cancellations less than 15 days prior to workshop incur a cancellation fee of 75% of the total workshop cost.
No partial refunds will be given for unused portions of a workshop. We highly recommend that all workshop participants purchase trip cancellation insurance independently.
Italy Workshops reserves the right to cancel any trip for any reason whatsoever, including insufficient signup, logistical problems that may impede a workshop, hotel closures or acts of God. (We have never yet had to cancel a workshop.) Refund of all fees paid shall release Italy Workshops from any further liability. Italy Workshops is not responsible for any expenses incurred by workshop participants in preparing for a cancelled workshop. In the case of insufficient signup to make a workshop feasible, notice and refund will be sent 120 days prior to the workshop.
Italy Workshops reserves the right to photograph and film its trips in entirety. Participants should be aware that images of them may be used for promotional purposes or joint marketing efforts with third parties, without renumeration.
Photographers of all skill levels are welcome.
Advanced photographers will be encouraged to focus on style development, lighting and composition, and will be challenged to work in “concentrations” to produce a collection of work suitable for a gallery showing or book project.
Novice photographers will be instructed separately at times on mechanics of the camera and fundamentals of creating proper exposure, but will also join the conversations about style development.
Any camera is acceptable, including smart phones. Automation for the beginner can make the trip fun and stress-free and at times increase creativity.
Should I Bring a Computer?
Participants who are very comfortable with their computer are encouraged to bring it along. Editing your images during the week can enhance your learning experience. We currently use Adobe Lightroom CC for our on-screen reviews sessions. You will learn new LR editing methods and workflow shortcuts during calcite reviews and critique. Even if you’ve used Lightroom, we highly recommend brushing up before the workshop by watching the free tutorials available on Adobe.com.
If you are not fluent downloading and managing digital images, you might consider leaving the computer behind and just focusing on camera work. You can still submit images daily for review, and perhaps find more time to learn about your camera and develop a discerning eye. (Not to mention sleep happily while others are editing into the night)
Observer Participants may be beginner photographers, attending all instruction and field trips, but not required to submit photos for critique. This is a fun way to learn without pressure. You’ll still photograph the same things and we’ll still want to review your work on the back of your camera and offer individual instruction in the field.