TUSCANY - songs of springtime

20th to 26th April 2022 - TWO SPACES REMAIN

led by Valda and Terry

"Happiness?  The color of it must be spring green, impossible to describe until I see a just-hatched lizard sunning on a stone.  That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf.   ...  The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch.  Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. Surges of energy, kaleidoscopic sunlight through the leaves, the soft breeze that makes me want to say the word "zephyr" - this mindless simplicity can be called happiness."
-  Frances, Mayes, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy, 1999 

April is the month when there Italians come out of hibernation and celebrate the arrival of the longer days and warmer weather. Flower festivals take place in April and the rolling hills burst into bloom with a riot of joyful exuberance. By mid-April the poppies should be flourishing between the vines and the Marguerite daisies starting to appear.

Val d’Orica and Chianti are of course very well known and visited by the masses. And rightly so. Cliches are cliches for a reason - they offer great beauty and everything we fondly associate with Tuscany. We intend to  travel a  little further afield, trying to tease out the lesser-known nooks and crannies of this most beguiling of landscapes. There will still be plenty of opportunity to photograph the gently sculpted hills and lone trees for which the area is so famous.


This is a CREATIVE GROWTH tour. Further information can be found by clicking through.

We will be surrounded by breathtaking Tuscan hills, olive groves and vineyards. And we will spend much time ambling around the  winding cobbled alleyways of rustic hilltop villages with their red tiled roofs and golden ochre stone, bleached so beautifully by the sun.  However, in doing so, we will be searching for a personal view of this wonderful place - trying to capture its idyllic charm with our own fresh eyes.

We certainly won’t be hard-pressed to find inspiration, but if creative juices do run  dry,  then perhaps a taste of one of the Super Tuscans will restore our equilibrium. We will visit an internationally acclaimed winery   offering us a tour of the ancient cellars and Medieval castle.

We are very excited to be returning to this area and to have the opportunity to engage on a very personal level with the people living and working here. We very much hope you can join us.


"First of all thank you for a fantastic few days in Tuscany - I really enjoyed it and found lots of inspiration and food for thought in the various talks, presentations and projects! Sharing and discussing our work with each other definitely brought the workshop to another level and not only helped our creative output, but I think also made the group more dynamic and involved with each other. A successful formula to take forward!" A.T.

"You both conducted an outstanding Creative Series workshop - from teaching to accommodations. Keep it coming." T.J.

"I was looking forward to your first ‘Creative Workshop’ in Tuscany for a long time and it certainly lived up to my expectations.  The venue was perfect - carefully chosen to help up develop our skills.  Also, the group size was smaller than I have usually experienced on other photographic workshops and this is a definite plus.  The itinerary was extremely varied - I found the mixture of classroom based learning and out on field a good balance - you can definitely learn a lot from other people on workshops too.  I particularly enjoyed our visit to Castello di Ama and I would have liked to spend more time there.  It was a great venue - food was great too!
Apart from being great teachers you are also great company.  I have certainly delved deeper into my photography and I feel ready to make more creative steps forward.  Thank you!" A.D.

"I thought the tour was excellent and met both the prospectus and my own expectations.  I felt creatively challenged during the tour, yet came back with images that successfully responded to those challenges.  I further developed my techniques and my approach to impressionistic photography.

A special highlight was the hotel – its location; its buildings, gardens and statuary; its food and its staff.  I would strongly recommend you return there for future workshops – and of course you have already booked next year’s!  Perhaps a slightly later booking might mean more of the guests leisure facilities are available/usable – but of course that might mean someone swimming in the secret pool where my 200 steps took me….

I really enjoyed the indoor sessions, both the thought-provoking presentations and the viewing & critique of images taken by tour members during the week.  I also greatly benefited from the sharing of ideas, techniques and approaches by other members. I hope they in turn gained something from me.

I have brought back fifty learning points ranging from camera and processing tweaks to the more philosophical aspects of composition and personal style – plenty to work on!" D.T.




Because the structure of this workshop is slightly different we wanted to ensure we had an artistically inspiring base where we can spend time discussing creative objectives in a comfortable and stimulating environment.

We are extremely excited to be staying at the extraordinarily beautiful Villa Mangiacane. Designed by none other than Michelangelo and built by the Machiavelli family it is steeped in history and creativity.

The villa is five star luxury - make no mistake - and includes 16th century frescoes, wine cellar, statue garden, olive groves and sweeping views of the Tuscan landscape. It is not too much of an exaggeration to suggest we could easily fill our time at this property and not run out of ideas.

Villa Mangiacane showcases over 220 pieces of original Shona sculpture throughout the property which is currently one of the largest Shona Art collections in Europe. Shona sculpture is widely accepted as the most important art movement to emerge from Africa in the Twentieth Century.

Some images of the villa are appended above - we would urge you to visit their website and see for yourself how much it has to offer.

During our last visit there we were treated with the most extraordinary hospitality. The people working there were enormously kind to us. We were lucky enough to have the villa to ourselves (this year's tour is slightly later in the season, so this may not be the case again). We had full access to Michelangelo's Machiavelli Palace and our training sessions were held in the villa's wine cellar, which certainly helped our creative juices flow.

There are three grades of accommodation - Deluxe, Superior and Classic. Please see our Spark presentation and price tab for further details.

20th to 26th April 2022 - rescheduled due to Covid-19


PRICING: Our tours are capped at 10 people and so our pricing reflects the smaller group size. Included in the price is a wine tasting at an acclaimed winery, a tour of their grounds and the opportunity to shoot around the castle, which dates back to medieval times.

Also included are all evening meals with wine. In the Villa Mangiacane, this will be a 4-course traditional menu. We will mostly eat at the villa but possibly venture into the local village to the delightful trattoria on a couple of occasions.

The Villa Mangiacane is a luxury Tuscan villa and so the price reflects the special qualities and magnificent surroundings of our accommodation.

The hotel is ideally suited for people wishing to bring non-photographing partners. The supplement is detailed below. Please note, that we have capped the number of non-shooting partners to three in order that there is room on the bus.


Classic room £2,975 (Sold out)

Classic rooms are designed individually with unique furniture and artwork. Located in the Villa Mazzei, these rooms equipped with queen sized beds and luxurious marble bathrooms.

Superior room £3,200 (1 available)

Villa Mazzei’s Superior Rooms offer a unique charm with hand-picked furniture and designs in varying styles and feels.

Luxurious queen sized beds, full marble bathrooms, and private gardens and plunge pools make these rooms one-of-a-kind.

Deluxe room £3,450 (1 available)

The deluxe rooms are a sweet and comfortable place to rest your head, enjoy the views of our vineyards and countryside, and relax into one-of-a-kind style. Deluxe rooms in Villa Mazzei are outfitted with beautiful private gardens and plunge pools upon request.


PARTNER RATE £1,250 (maximum of 3 - Sold out)

Please note while all rooms are of the same standard (within each category), they do differ slightly in the style of facilities offered ie some have sunken baths, some have Victorian baths on claw feet, some have circular baths etc


  • Bed and breakfast, single room accommodation at Villa Mangiacane for six nights.
  • All evening meals and wine (chosen by the villa, from their Estate).
  • Photographic tour of a Tuscan winery situated in a Medieval castle. Wine tasting.
  • All transport including transfers from Pisa airport for flights arriving to coincide with ours.
  • Tuition from Valda and Doug.
  • Presentations on extending creative thinking.
  • Sequencing
  • Critiques
  • Lightroom & Photoshop sessions
  • A hardback book including images from everybody on the workshop delivered to your home (worldwide).
  • Post tour notes and recorded video copies of the Lightroom and Photoshop sessions.

Max, 10 clients.


Flights, insurance.


Flights to be confirmed in due course.

Meals not mentioned.


Fitness level - moderate. Gentle walking.

Average temperature 19C

GMT +1

Flight times from London about an hour and a half. Flights into Pisa, Florence or Bolgna.


Social media; Valda

Social media; Bailey Chinnery

Social media, Doug