Heart of Tuscany Photography Retreat

Join Me In Tuscany!

Imagine staying in a beautiful Tuscan villa, amid vineyards and rows of cypress trees. There, insulated from the maddening crowd and the lure of social media, you will be able to recharge your batteries and refocus, while you live and work together in a community of fellow photographers.

This journey is not only for photographers and I welcome everyone to follow me along this route. If you have a partner, spouse, or friend who is into photography, come with them and join us.

San Gimignano

About The Location

The place where we will be staying is right in the heart of Tuscany, in the middle of beautiful Val d'Orcia. The landscape of this area, which inspired many Renaissance paintings, is characterized by gently rolling hills, sometimes covered in vineyards and dotted with medieval towns and castles.

Painters from the Scuola Senese celebrated the landscape of Val d’Orcia, which flourished during the Renaissance. Images of the Val d’Orcia, and particularly depictions of landscapes where people are depicted as living in harmony with nature, have come to be seen as icons of the Renaissance.

It’s easy to verify this truth with one’s own eyes just by witnessing a sunrise in the countryside. When the early morning fog, lingering at the bottom of the valley, glows under the rays of the rising sun is a perfect moment to freeze in time. It is the very reason for photographing Tuscany.

Since 2004, UNESCO has included Val d’Orcia in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Country road with cypress trees in Tuscany

The beauty of the Val d’Orcia has made it one of the favorite locations for shooting movies. Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is one of the most recent flicks which deserves a mention. It was partially filmed at this location, just outside the city of Pienza. This is where they filmed the scene where Maximus experiences the vision of Heaven at the time of his death, with his wife and child walking along a country road lined with cypress trees.

A Typical Day

We get up in the morning at a leisurely hour and are greeted by a substantial continental breakfast, with coffee, tea, cappuccino, cornetti, fresh fruit juices, and other Italian specialties.

If the weather is promising, we might head out in the immediate vicinity of our villa for a sunrise session, on a voluntary basis. We then return for breakfast.

We then have a morning session where we talk about photography. Every day we introduce a set of practices that will help you develop a specific skill.

We then have some private time that could be dedicated to relaxation, meditation, exercise or maybe a yoga lesson. This is followed by a light lunch.

The afternoon will mostly consist of time spent outdoors, camera in hand. We will take inspiration from what we discussed earlier in order to practice. We might do a walk in the countryside or visit a nearby medieval village and I will be there to help you with any questions you might have.

A couple days might be dedicated to visiting nearby areas, like the Tuscia or the Chianti regions. In this case we'll have lunch at a nice restaurant, which will always be included in the price.

San Gimignano, Tuscany

We then return to our villa for some more relaxation and to take a shower. Then we review the day's work, receive assignments, and prepare our objectives for tomorrow. We think it's important to close each day with a list of things to accomplish on the next day.

At dinner we will savor some of the best Italian cuisine, all prepared on the premises with fresh produce from the local markets, and taste some great local wines.

After dinner, we might have more conversation about photography, but without any pressure to take part in it. We could do portfolio reviews or look at photo books together to gather some inspiration. It's OK if after a long day, someone prefers to retire to their own room, watch TV or read a book.

This program is purely indicative and might change depending on your feedback or on the weather conditions.

More Than A Workshop

When we say this is not a workshop, I mean that there won't be lessons about exposure, focus or the most basic points of technique. I will always be on hand to help you with any technical questions you might have, but that is not going to be the focus of our conversations.

You will learn to take photographs and judge them based on their effectiveness in conveying emotions and on their eloquence in telling stories. I will help you create a coherent body of work composed of a coherent series of images.

This doesn't mean there won't be work to do. I believe practice, and especially deliberate practice is the name of the game  In order to improve, it is necessary to exert effort to improve your performance and this is what I expect from you.

When we are out shooting, we will discuss things like aperture and shutter speed only as tools that we need to master in order to convey a feeling or to impart a certain mood to our photos.

On the other hand, there will be plenty of talk about composition, choice of subject, learning to recognize the best light and use it to your advantage.

Celebrating The Joy Of Living

Italy is rightly famous not only for its rich history, the ancient monuments, and the art that is everywhere abundant, but nowhere more than in Tuscany. It is also a sought-after destination for the quality and the amazing regional variety of food and wine.

A retreat in the heart of Tuscany would not be complete if it didn't allow you to experience some of its best cuisine and of its prized wines.

Thanks to our resident chef, every day you will be served local recipes prepared with fresh, natural products and cooked to perfection in our kitchen. We will of course cater to the needs of vegetarians and people with food intolerances,

It is said that Italians love life and they certainly demonstrate this at the table. Come savor the Dolce Vita with me!

We will host you in a villa is in the vicinity of the medieval city of Pienza, in the heart of the Val d'Orcia region. Our group will have exclusive use of the property.

The location is about 120km from Florence and 190km from Rome. If you come from outside Italy, you will probably fly or take a train to one of those two cities. We can arrange transportation, for a fee, to and from the airports and the railway stations of Florence and Rome.

Your Significant Other Is Not A Photographer?

No problem, I've got you covered!

If you would like to attend the retreat together with a spouse, companion, partner or simply a friend who is not into photography, they can join you for a significantly reduced price.

They will be able to use all the facilities of the villa and enjoy all the meals and some social activities, like the wine tastings.

They won't be able to attend the discussions and sessions that are purely about photography (we reckon they wouldn't want anyway). When we organize an excursion to photograph a nearby village, they can join the rest of the group, if they want, for a small transportation fee.

We can also organize excursions on request, specifically for non-photographers, for a fee.

In any case, we give priority to photographers, so this option is only available upon request and for a limited number of participants. Indicate that you are traveling with a companion when filling out the inquiry form below and we'll let you know about availability.

Civita di Bagnoregio

In a nutshell

Where: Near Siena, Tuscany, Italy

When: September 19-26, 2020 and May 8-15, 2021

Duration: 8 days / 7 nights

Skill levels: beginner to advanced, amateur and professional.

Group size: 6 min, 10 max

Price: €3,900

Non-photographer partner price: €2,400

People Talk About Us


I have done 3 photo tours with 3 different guides and locations, this has been the best of the three. Ugo was definitely the best of the three guides. His attention to detail with setting the scene and location with models, suggestions on camera settings were helpful for me, a novice with portrait photography. I would definitely recommend any tour with Ugo, he is an excellent photographer willing to share his knowledge, experience and secrets of special places he knows to make the entire photography experience a lifetime memory.

Diana Hatfield Denver, CO

After two photo tours with Ugo in Italy, I cannot recommend the experience highly enough – the local knowledge of Italy, partnered with photographic expertise and guidance made for an extremely rewarding photo tour! Ugo guides and mentors you according to your skills, regardless of whether you are a beginner or experienced enthusiast. I have come away with greater understanding of the craft and confidence to build my skill set. I am inspired to continue my learning journey to create beautiful images. Thank you Ugo!!!

Kerri Clark Canberra, Australia

If you are planning to travel and love photography at any level Ugo can plan a personal tour to fit in with your itinerary! He has a wealth of knowledge to share with you on any subject of photography. Apart from photography (my passion) Ugo provides a total travel experience looking at Italy through the eyes of a local. A life changing trip leaving me totally hooked to book another! Thank you Ugo and yes I will be returning my dilemma is choosing a destination.

Sharon Jackson Gold Coast, Australia

My wife and I just returned home from the trip of a lifetime with Ugo and Mike Gulbraa. 7 cities in 15 days photographing the most amazing places in Italy! Ugo was the perfect Italian host and photography pro! Can't say enough about how great he was. Looking forward to touring with him again. Recommend VERY highly

Glen Zalkin St. Augustine, FL

Dates and Prices

The retreat takes place from September 19 to 26, 2020 and from May 8 to 15, 2021.

The price for attendance is €3,900 (all taxes included).

The price for a non-photographer spouse, partner or friend, sharing a room with a photographer is €2,400 (all taxes included).

What Is Included

  • 8 days / 7 nights accommodation, double room sharing.
  • Daily group and one-on-one photography mentoring sessions (only for photographers).
  • Portfolio reviews and critique (only for photographers).
  • Three meals daily, including water and a glass of wine per person.
  • Excursions to the countryside and the nearby cities, like Pienza and Montalcino.
  • A wine tasting session

What Is Not Included

  • Transportation from your place of residence to the villa and vice-versa.
  • Tips.
  • Extra drinks, beyond wine consumed during meals.
  • Travel insurance, though we strongly recommend you stipulate a suitable one before leaving that would cover you against any accidents or cancellations.

How To Apply

Submit your application using the form below. We will be in touch shortly.

Heart of Tuscany Retreat Submission