From timeless hill towns to ancient ruins to Renaissance treasures, Italy abounds with inspiring photo ops. With your camera in hand, immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant spirit as you capture famed sights and lesser-known gems. Photograph traditional artisans at work in Venice, and document the daily rituals at a local monastery. Explore the cultural centers of Florence and Siena, and settle into a restored medieval castello to discover traditional Tuscany. In Rome, step back in time amid the ruins of the Roman Forum and uncover the city’s baroque masterpieces. Along the way, delve into Italian cuisine while enjoying meals and fine Italian wines at local restaurants and wineries.
Learn valuable tips and techniques from a National Geographic photographer as you capture iconic Italian sights, from the canals of Venice to Rome’s Vatican Museums.
In Venice, visit a gondola workshop to document the construction of these classic vessels, and photograph the grape harvesting process at a local vineyard.
Explore the charming alleyways of Florence with an architect and immerse yourself in a feast of color and texture at the Sant’Ambrogio market.
Capture evocative shots of the Roman Forum on a photo shoot, and frame the legendary ruins of the Colosseum in the glow of the late afternoon sun.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Venice, Italy
Arrive in Venice and transfer to your hotel by motorboat. Spend the afternoon on a guided walk through the “floating city” with a focus on nearby Giudecca Island. Here, we enjoy a private visit to a monastery attached to the 16th-century Redentore church, designed and built by Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Meet the monastery’s Capuchin friars, take a tour of their kitchen and vegetable garden, and document their daily lives. Continue to a local artisan workshop to learn the science of traditional gondola construction and to photograph these traditional Venetian vessels. Gather for a welcome reception and dinner at a Venetian restaurant.
Venezia Palazzo Barocci (D)
Day 2 — Venice
Set out to explore the city’s canals by private boat, capturing scenes of everyday life along the water. Stop at Mazzorbo Island to visit a vineyard and discover how it has overcome the challenges of high tides to produce celebrated Venetian wines. Document the harvesting of grapes and learn about the wine-making process, followed by a tasting. Later, stop in at a traditional textile workshop that has been in the same family for centuries. During the visit, photograph artists at work as they create intricate fabrics using traditional tools. This evening, embark on an optional nighttime photo shoot to capture the city after dark.
Venezia Palazzo Barocci (B,L)
Day 3 — Venice/Florence
This morning, travel by train to Florence, where we’ll set out on a walking tour of the historic center. In Piazza della Repubblica, discover the city’s beginnings as a Roman settlement. Wander through narrow streets past the fortified houses and towers that marked the medieval town, and emerge onto the open Piazza della Signoria, the political center of the city since the Middle Ages. Meet a local architect and stroll through the city’s charming, cobblestoned alleyways, examining superb examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Later, head to the Ponte Vecchio for a sunset photoshoot, capturing the play of light on the Arno River.
Gallery Hotel Art (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Florence
Embark on an optional morning photo walk, followed by breakfast. Later, head to the Sant’Ambrogio food market, known for its fine produce, cheese, and meat. Amid this veritable feast of color and texture, shoot images of locals haggling with merchants over fruits, vegetables, and other goods. Then spend the afternoon exploring the city. Stroll through the Giardino di Boboli with a landscape architect and learn about the intricate 16th-century design of the gardens. Enjoy a photo shoot in this beautiful setting, capturing the sweeping drama of the greenery. After dinner, embark on an optional nighttime photo shoot.
Gallery Hotel Art (B)
Day 5 — Tuscan Countryside
Travel south to the vine-covered region of Chianti. Visit the renowned Badia a Coltibuono winery, situated in a former abbey, and enjoy a wine tasting and lunch, followed by a photo shoot in the wine cellar. Continue to Gargonza, a medieval hamlet nestled in the Tuscan countryside. This afternoon, settle into the privately owned 13th-century castello of the Guicciardini family—our home for the next three nights. Take the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the swimming pool, or explore the grounds on an optional photo walk.
Castello di Gargonza (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Siena
A short drive brings us to the Tuscan gem of Siena. Capture the medieval flavor of the city on a photo walk that includes the Piazza del Campo; the Palazzo Pubblico; and the colorful, marble-clad cathedral. Enjoy lunch on your own in one of Siena’s many trattorias. In the afternoon, take a scenic drive through the rolling hills of Tuscany, stopping at several viewpoints. Photographic opportunities abound as we explore the countryside and interact with its gracious people.
Castello di Gargonza (B,D)
Day 7 — Tuscan Countryside
Venture into the Tuscan countryside on a morning hike through the scenic landscapes near Gargonza. Visit a local cheese farm, where we’ll learn about the production of world-famous pecorino cheese. Later, join the castello’s chef for a cooking lesson, which includes a culinary photo shoot. Enjoy a tasting of several fine local vintages as we feast on our freshly-prepared meal.
Castello di Gargonza (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Tuscany/Rome
Travel south to Rome and have lunch at a local restaurant, then set out to explore the Eternal City. Venture into the Colosseum and document the subterranean ruins where gladiators prepared for battle. Stroll through the Roman Forum and enjoy a specially arranged visit inside the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Miranda, formerly the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina erected in A.D. 141. Enjoy a sweeping panorama of the Forum from the church’s front steps, and take advantage of unique photo opportunities as we explore the interior. Later this evening, head back to the Colosseum for a photo shoot in the rich hues of twilight.
Rose Garden Palace (B,L)
Day 9 — Rome
Take in the sacred grandeur of Vatican City with an early morning visit to its museums and the breathtaking Sistine Chapel before they open to the public. Then photograph the graceful sweep of St. Peter’s Square, designed by Bernini, and explore its basilica. Later this afternoon, gather for a walking tour of Rome. Photograph the remarkable architecture of the Pantheon as well as the Trevi Fountain, the largest baroque fountain in the city, and Piazza Navona. Gather for a festive farewell dinner this evening.
Rose Garden Palace (B,D)
Day 10 — Rome
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Born and raised in the south of Italy, Massimo Bassano has traveled, taught, and photographed extensively in his native country. Massimo photographed the September 2011 National Geographic Traveler article "The Towns Italy Forgot," which inspired this expedition. His acclaimed book The Color of Silence detailed the 12 weeks he spent in a little-known Italian monastery, and his work has appeared widely in European publications, as well as in National Geographic Traveler and on the National Geographic website. Massimo will enhance this expedition with his infectious enthusiasm, knowledge, and love for the region.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.