Florence, Tuscan Hill Towns, & Venice
October 2-13, 2017
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
For more information contact
Strabo Photo Tour Collection:
Nancy will take you to her 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 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.
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.
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”0″ class=”active”]Day 1 Home[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”0″ in=”in”]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.)
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”1″ class=””]Day 2 Arrival in Florence[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”1″ in=””]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 Magenta or similar (Evening Welcome Reception)
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”2″ class=””]Day 3 The Magic of Florence[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”2″ in=””]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)
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”3″ class=””]Day 4-8 The Tuscan Countryside[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”3″ in=””]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)
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”4″ class=””]Day 9 Venice[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”4″ in=””]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)
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”5″ class=””]Day 10 & 11 Venice ~ A City of Merchants and Churches[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”5″ in=””]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 Igea (Breakfasts)
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”6″ class=””]Day 12 Venice[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”6″ in=””]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 Igea (Breakfast)
[acchead id=”” tab_id=”7″ class=””]Day 13 Venice – Onward Destinations[/acchead]
[accbody tab_id=”7″ in=””]Depart late morning or after for your flight home. (Breakfast)
Estimated Land Cost: $4595*, per person, minimum of 6, maximum of 12 paying participants, shared accommodations.
Single room supplement: $995, single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate single travelers who request single accommodations, as well as single travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested and we are unable to find a suitable roommate, or you are in a single for another reason, you will need to pay the single supplement.
*Note: The land cost is based on current exchange rate between the Euro and US dollar. Should these rates change significantly, there may be an adjustment in the trip price.
Contact Strabo Tours if you would like a quotation from your gateway city.
The main trip price includes:
- **Group ground transportation, transportation to Venice if participating on the optional extension (airport transfers not included).
- **Accommodations as detailed in the itinerary, based upon two people sharing a room.
- **Meals as detailed in the itinerary.
- **The photographic expertise and leadership of your escort.
- **Services and expenses of the local guides.
- **Service charges in hotels and restaurants for scheduled meals.
- **Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The main trip price does not include:
International air fare; air fare tax; airport transfers; transportation or accommodations for those not traveling with the group; meals not listed in the itinerary; any activities not included in the itinerary, or those listed as optional; some museum and entry fees (see below); medical or travel insurance; personal expenses such as excess baggage charges, passport fees, medical expenses, laundry, film and processing, phone charges; porterage, tips to your guides and staff.
Note: Flights/Transportation into Florence will vary; therefore, you will want to budget about $25 for the taxi in Florence; $10, one way, for the train between Pisa and Florence; $50 between Rome or Milan and Florence. You should also budget a few dollars for porterage of your bags, if required, upon arrival at and departure from the hotel. Although the trip will not be museum oriented, you may wish to visit the San Gimignano museums and tower ($9) or various museums in Florence, which must be paid for at the facility. Hotel staff can assist you with details and arrangements.
Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds
A deposit of $750 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, 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 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.
A NOTE ABOUT MEALS
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 isordered. 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.
FOCUS AND PACE OF THE TRIP
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.
Accommodations are strategically located, however, and there are wonderful photographic opportunities available without straying very far from the premises. Please call us at 607-756-8676 if you have any specific questions on fitness or health.
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.