One doesn’t come to Italy for niceness,” was the retort; “one comes for life. Buon Giorno! Buon Giorno!” – E.M. Forster.
Urban Landscape Photography:
While I was pretty much focused on the aspect of Landscape photography in the Tuscany region, I was also enthralled by the Italian architecture of small yet elegant and stylish buildings of the medieval town of Montepulciano, Sienna, Pienza, and Chianciano Terme. The street of these countryside towns would give you a strong glimpse of historical value as well as the warmth of the culture and locals residing in it. The most challenging aspect of the urban landscape or in general terms, street photography is that it keeps on changing in a second. Hence, if you missed the action or a moment, it would be gone forever as it’s dynamic in nature, unlike landscape which can stay at the same location for a longer time and can try different settings/compositions and perspectives on the same subject.
Though my three days workshop was mostly focused on covering the vastness of Tuscany’s astonishing landscape however my mentor Alfredo Falvo made sure that we did have some time to cover the streets of these amazing medieval towns too. Our morning would start at 6 am when we would leave to reach the location to capture the first sunlight on the grassland and vineyards of the Tuscany region thereby first covering the landscapes around.
Capturing moments on Streets:
After spending a couple of hours, we would then have our breakfast in the local towns, and from there, we would capture the daily errands of locals going to the market, some visiting the church with drizzling happening in the background. What made it more interesting to work on was, of course, the arrival of rain which we thought was difficult for us to keep our cameras safe and clean but with that, it also brought a different composition of wet pavements and roads with people coming out along with their umbrellas. Being always conscious of capturing people on the streets and their activities, I never felt inclined towards urban landscape photography, however, being in the towns of Sienna and Montepulciano, the place itself was full of richness in terms of its medieval architecture and the way locals lived and dressed around with strong composition shown on their faces. All that fear and un-comfort simply went away and I got more indulged in capturing those moments with weather conditions of rain and mist for the next three days.
Amazing Medieval towns of Tuscany:
The Perfect Mix of Architecture, Food & Tradition built to represent the "Utopian City"
Pienza is a tiny village in southern Tuscany in the beautiful valley called Val d'Orcia The village is located about 20 kilometers east of Montalcino and a few kilometers to the west of Montepulciano amidst gentle undulating hills and wonderful natural landscapes. Pienza enjoys a strategic position standing high atop a hill, dominating all the Orcia Valley with extraordinary views.
Montepulciano is a medieval hilltop town in Tuscany, Italy. Surrounded by vineyards, it’s known for its vino noble red wine. The Torre di Pulcinella is a clock tower topped by a figure of the Pulcinella, a commedia dell’arte character. On the Piazza Grande is the 14th-century Palazzo Comunale, with a tower offering views of the surrounding countryside. Also here is the Duomo, with a huge triptych above its altar.
Siena is likely Italy's loveliest medieval city, and a trip worth making even if you are in Tuscany for just a few days. Siena's heart is its central piazza known as Il Campo, known worldwide for the famous Palio run here, a horse race run around the piazza two times every summer. Movie audiences worldwide can see Siena and the Palio in the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.
Splendid Italian Food:
While I was occupied with planning the trip and the logistics that need to be taken care of, I was quite fascinated with the Italian cuisine that has made an everlasting impact on people around the world. It’s not just limited to Pasta and Pizza as it has an amazing list of mouth-watering, appetizing, tasty, flavorsome and delectable dishes too.
While wandering the local towns of Tuscany, I had an amazing first meal of Ribollita which is a famous Tuscan bread soup, a hearty potage made with bread and vegetables and of course, with a garnishing of Olive oil too.
Tuscan Bread Cottage Cheeze Sandwich:
I also tried the famous Cottage cheese sandwich of Tuscany which had a different taste as compared to normal sandwiches being made around. The Tuscan cheese Sandwich is the perfect Italian cheese with slices of rustic Tuscan along with a layer of locally produced cottage cheese.
Pici Cacio e Pepe:
On my last day of the workshop, we took a good amount of time to have our lunch in a good restaurant after our workshop in snowy weather. I was recommended to try the locally made Cheeze Pasta: Pici Cacio e Pepe. Pici are thick hand-rolled pasta-like fat spaghetti that originates from the province of Siena in Tuscany. Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper and although it's a Roman pasta dish it has been adapted to Tuscany by using the local pasta and pecorino Toscano cheese.
This pizza possesses the classic characteristics of a traditional Margherita Pizza: hot melted mozzarella, fresh tomato slices, a crunchy pizza crust, creamy tomato sauce, and flavorful notes of basil. Gustus Vitae's Taste of Tuscany transforms this ordinary pizza into an Italian masterpiece. Indeed, it's well said, if you haven’t tried pizza in Italy, you wouldn’t know the original taste of it.
The whole Solo Trip of Tuscany did bring a lot of learning and a confounding experience of the vastness of the landscape and along with that, the richness of Italian culture and heritage of their medieval towns that showcased a great sense of warmth from local people and how well they have preserved their historical buildings and churches and flavorsome Italian cuisine with a