For any Italy’s lovers, today I present you the guest post from Aga and Chris filled with information about the most magical Tuscany photography spots. So if you’re planning your next trip to Tuscany in Italy, this post might become your source of photo-inspiration. Accompanied by some fascinating legends and stories. Enjoy!
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Magical Tuscany Photography Spots
Florence – Tuscan Capital
Florence is probably the most charming town in Tuscany. But it should be! It is the capital of the region. Florence is well known as the touristic destination, but it didn’t come from nowhere. It has the highest concentration of works of art per square kilometers among Italian cities! And Florence has its legends and histories.
Each citizen of this city knows that when he is walking Via Dello Studio, especially in colder months, he feels the breeze or even a kind of wind! Actually, it is not the wind. The legend says that a long time ago, the devil chased a priest through the streets of Florence, trying to steal his soul.
When the man reached the front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, he told the devil that he would like to pray one last time before eternal suffering. The devil, of course, was so naive to agree. He waited for the priest to come out of the Cathedral. Obviously, the priest was smart and escaped the other door, and the devil did not notice. Meanwhile, the devil bored waiting, started to snore, creating a light breeze. But when he realized that the priest cheated him, a breath of evil turned into a veritable whirlwind. Since then, the Devil’s Wind has never stopped blowing. He still waits for the priest to come out of the church. And he would never come…
Florence is an excellent one among the Tuscany photography spots. There is plenty of beautiful locations to capture the city. Our favorites are the streets of Florence. In particular narrow streets in the Cathedral area are the most photogenic ones. And you can just wander looking for the spots or situations worth capturing. You can easily find old walls, doors, bicycles leaning on them, characteristic people, and architecture details. You will find it all there!
But probably #1 spot for photographing the city is on the other side of the river – on the hill Piazzale Michelangelo. From this spot, you can have a great look at the bridges and cathedral towering over the city. Be there 1-2 hours before sunset for best results or try night shots.
Consider: Taking a photography tour with an experienced local photograhper in Florence will help you save time on finding the best locations for your shots! Try this photography bike tour from Viator.
Hidden River of Siena
Siena is a top-rated tourist destination. It is nothing strange about it – the city itself is one of the most beautiful old towns in the area and with Palio di Siena twice a year it attracts plenty of people. But when you plan to stay in Siena, you should know that there’s no river crossing the city. However, it has a sizeable sophisticated system of underground aqueducts built once by the government to provide enough water supplies to the city’s citizens. So you can’t see the river, but sometimes you can hear it, and it scares some people…
Many people staying in the town claim to hear the noise of a large river gushing beneath the ground when walking around quiet parts of the city. The legend says that it’s not an individual case. For many years people reported it repeatedly and gained so much public interest that the government decided to locate the source of the sound. Over the years, people dug many wells over the city of Siena, searching for the river. Unfortunately, nobody found “The Diana River” – as people called it. The legend remains still alive, and when you come to Siena one day, you can try to hunt for Diana and listen to the sound of the underground river.
For us, as photographers, the most exciting parts of the city are for sure Piazza del Campo and Duomo di Siena. Of course, we love to loose in all those streets looking for wells and listening to the hidden river. You never know what you can find there one day.
It’s worth to plan the visit to Siena for the dates of Palio. But please remember that the city is very crowded, prices much higher and it might be tough to reach Piazza del Campo. However, if you make it, you will have the best possible photos in the city.
Towers of San Gimignano
San Gimignano rises on top of a hill and is clearly visible from a distance due to its many towers. In the fourteenth century, the legend says it was 72 towers! Every family had to show its power by building a higher tower. Some of the towers were destroyed or cut off, but till today remains 13 of them. And still, the city is known for its towers.
Another legend says that the city was founded in ancient times. In 63 B.C., two brothers escaping from punishment in Rome sheltered in Val d’Elsa and built two castles. Brother called Muzio built Castle of Mucchio and Silvio – Castle of Silvia. Later those castles developed in the city of San Gimignano.
If we look closer to the facts, the name of the town appeared in the documents only in year 929 when Bishop of Volterra was donated with the so-called mount of the tower (placed next to San Gimignano). The name of the city probably comes from the bishop of Modena – St. Gimignano. During the barbarian invasion, the saint miraculously appeared on the city walls and saved the town.
San Gimignano is the right spot for photographers. We can not only photograph the city from a distance but as well can focus on architectural details and medieval streets. There is plenty of opportunities for great photos from the inside of the city walls, especially at the sunrise or sunset, when you can fully admire the landscape of Tuscany.
Mystical Val d’Orcia
Two key scenes of the movie Gladiator were filmed in Tuscany. The magic of Val d’Orcia caused Ridley Scott to make an exception and film not only in the studio or other locations out of Italy but somehow put the soul of the old Roman Empire to the movie. And we must say it was a great success to the idyllic scenes.
Val d’Orcia as a whole is very mysterious and magical, especially during the fall when colors got warm, and the sun is still warming the ground. In the morning, it’s not unusual to spot some fogs above the hills.
But two places are legendary. First is The Vitaleta Chapel – probably the most photographed church in the whole Tuscany. It’s a small chapel standing on the remote hill among wavy fields. It has some charm – maybe it’s a divine charm. However, the famous statue of Madonna was many years ago moved to San Quirico to be better accessible for more people.
The second is the cypress trees field next to the road SR2 – probably the most famous cypress group in Tuscany. This place is an impressive photo spot at any time of the day and any season of the year and creates kind of a Tuscany signature.
Consider: If this is your first photography-focused trip you might want to practise your skills even more. Think about taking the photography workshop in the Val d’Orcia region to learn how to take even better shots!
Pienza culinary kingdom
This small city is another jewel of Italy. Located between Montalcino and Montepulciano and surrounded by fields and wineries that might make you lost. But if you finally reach the town and get behind the thick walls, you will be more than happy to find some traditional Italian food. We love to sit in those family restaurants and drink local wine.
There is an exciting story about this small town – it was the first so-called planned city of the 15th century – it means that the city was designed from scratch based on a rectangular scheme. The most important palaces are in square Pio II: the Cathedral, Palazzo Piccolomini, the Communal Palace, the Episcopal Palace, and Palazzo Ammannati.
But the legend of Pienza is not linked only to its historical design, but more to the typical food. In this place, you will find the best pecorino cheese (Pecorino di Pienza) and the best red Italian wine. The last one is maybe not produced in Pienza itself, but rather closer to Montalcino or Montepulciano. However, this is the place where you should try those treats because they taste differently than at home.
Where to stay in Tuscany?
Those amazing places listed above by Aga and Chris are probably the best of Tuscany photography spots which you can add to your Italian bucket list.
If you’re planning a trip to this region and considering where to stay in Tuscany, I made small research for you. Below you’ll find charming places to stay in all the mentioned places. Those hotels in Tuscany can become your base for chasing the best Tuscany photography spots!
- Florence – FuordArno Bed & Breakfast – Rating 9.7 – This lovely place will be a perfect background for your photography trip to Tuscany. Charming rooms are furnished in a retro style and provide all the important facilities. The building is located near the Ponte Alle Grazie, just next to the river.
Check the availability in FuordArno on Booking.com ->
- Siena – Casacenti – Rating 9.4 – In Casacenti you can feel like at home. Cozy rooms with old-time furniture and lovely textiles will make your mornings in Siena so sweet. The place is located just in a 2-minute walk from the Cathedral.
Check the availability in Casacenti on Booking.com ->
- San Gimignano – Leon Bianco – Rating 9.1 – The location and interiors of Leon Bianco ensure a real Italian feeling. Waking up in a glamorous yet subtle room, and having a coffee and breakfast on a charming stone patio is a great beginning for your photography adventures in Tuscany.
Check the availability in Leon Bianco on Booking.com ->
- Val d’Orcia – Pangea Villa – Rating 9.3 – If you’re dreaming about staying in the lovely stone house in the Italian countryside then Pangea Villa is a perfect place for you. Having a delicious breakfast in an outdoor patio, surrounded by charming Tuscany views, is a memorable experience.
Check the availability in Pangea Villa on Booking.com ->
- Pienza – Il Giglio B&B – Rating 9.0 – This lovely place is a perfect spot to stay in Pienza. Bright rooms, situated in the renaissance building, are equipped with cozy furniture ensuring a homy atmosphere.
Check the availability in Il Giglio B&B on Booking.com ->
What photography gear to use in Tuscany?
If you wonder what photography gear should you take to Tuscany with you, here’s the answer. I asked Aga and Chris about what kind of gear they had during this trip. They took two sets of photography gear which you can see below!
|Model||Picture||Gear type||Where to buy?|
|Nikon D750||Camera body||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED||Zoom lens||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED||Zoom lens||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Sirui T2005X||Tripod||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Genesis gear||Tripod head|
|Model||Picture||Gear type||Where to buy?|
|Canon EOS 1DX||Camera body||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM||Zoom lens||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM||Zoom lens||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM||Zoom lens||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Sirui T2005X||Tripod||Check the price on Amazon!|
|Kirk BH-3||Tripod ball head||Check the price on Amazon!|
Chasing the best Tuscany photography spots
Visiting Tuscany is a wonderful experience. And if you’re fascinated by the Italian culture, I am pretty sure it is on your bucket list.
If you’ve already been to Tuscany, leave a comment below on which place you found the best to photograph!
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Hi, we are Aga & Chris – two crazy photographers who love to travel. In August 2019, we started The Van Escape project in Vancouver. With freshly purchased old camper truck, we headed to Alaska to encounter some wildlife and fantastic landscapes. On our blog – The Van Escape – we try to combine the best travel and photo hints from visited locations. We hope it is beneficial for your travel plans!