Tuscany: Day 2 – Sunday, May 7

Today’s Shooting Agenda

  • Dawn views of the Val d’Orcia
  • Pienza’s yellow flowers
  • The village of Bagno Vignoni
  • The Gladiator Fields

The Val d’Orcia

My phone alarm came screaming on at 4:45AM, so that I would be ready to go at 5:15 with the group for today’s dawn shoot.

We all met in the hotel at 5:15 for our planned dawn shoot of the Val d’Orcia region and the historic and gorgeous Belvedere, located in the region behind the hotel. The Val d’Orcia is a wide and beautiful countryside in southern Tuscany, close to the border with Umbria and on the slopes of Mount Amiata, stretching along the agricultural hinterland of Siena. It takes its name from the Orcia river.

We proceeded down the road to an olive grove, which presented an excellent vista of the Val d’Orcia in the light of dawn:

After getting our dawn shots we moved over to shoot the landscape directly behind the hotel. After successfully capturing our dawn shoot we reconvened in the hotel dining room at 7:45 for breakfast.

Pienza’s Yellow Flowers

After breakfast we went to Pienza to explore the town but couldn’t find a parking space (so crowded there on Sundays!). Switching to an alternate plan we went to a region behind Pienza to shoot the beautiful yellow flowers, mixed with the occasional red poppy.

Bagno Vignoni

It was getting around midday when we moved on to the peaceful little village of Bagno Vignoni, where we enjoyed an excellent lunch at Bistro Le Terme. After lunch I explored and photographed the charming town, with its natural hot sulphurous springs in the middle of the square:

Wandering around the town square, Ted and I discovered a little church called Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista. Luckily the doors were open so we could explore a little and take a few shots:

Further wandering around the town revealed more of its charms:

After a couple of hours in Bagno Vignoni we returned to the hotel for a rest break. I grabbed one last shot prior to leaving – this is the countryside just outside the village:

The Gladiator Fields

At about 4:30 we met at the van to travel to The Gladiator Fields for our next shoot. The Gladiator Fields are so named because this is one of the locations where the 2000 film Gladiator was shot. I’ve never seen this film, but I’ve had it explained to me that in the movie’s “dream sequence” Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, stands alone in a field of wheat, allowing the wind to brush the wheat against his palms. Eerie light filters around him as he stands in what is, in this case in the film, quite literally paradise.

At this location, Monte Amiata (Mount Amiata) looms in the background. Mount Amiata is the largest of the lava domes in the Amiata lava dome complex located in the southern Tuscany region:

The weather suddenly clouded over and we lost the light; it looked like a heavy rainstorm was imminent, so we packed up our gear and drove back to the hotel.

Evening Meal

At 7:45 we met for drinks in the hotel bar prior to going out for dinner. We walked into the village (San Quirico d’Orcia) and had a wonderful Italian dinner at Restorante Di Ciacco:

Through group effort we made our way through the Italian menu (no English here) and ordered:

Feeling very full, tired and sleepy from the good food and activities of the day, we returned to the hotel for the evening. I crawled into bed – exhausted – at 11:45PM.

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