Archive for the ‘Tuscan Light’ Category

The Hills of Tuscany


We are very pleased to announce a substantial reduction in the price for photography workshop participants. After renegotiating with vendors in Italy, and with Private Italy’s Italian support team, we are now offering this exceptional workshop for $2950.00 per person, land only. This is a nearly $1000.00 per participant reduction from our prior announced price and in no way affects the quality or itinerary of the workshop.

If you book before January 31, 2013, there is an additional $100.00 per person discount applied to the workshop price.


There are few words on earth that evoke a sense of place more than “Tuscany.”

Visions of villas gold flecked in long afternoon light, hillsides of patterned olive trees, vines bearing luscious Sangiovese grape and hilltop villages whose towers pierce cerulean blue skies are all yours to capture during this photography workshop.

Our first few days are spent within, or close to, the Renaissance city of Florence. The workshop venues balance the well-known with some surprising corners of a city whose narrow lanes and quiet corners offer keen insights into Italy’s elusive beauty.

During the second part of this workshop, we move to a quiet retreat in the hills of central Tuscany. Villas, medieval abbeys, the pattern of cobble-stoned streets and the glory of Italy’s elusive, special luminance await your discerning and creative vision.

Classic Italia – Florence

This is a limited opportunity to join a group of like-minded, passionate, photographers who will learn from world-renowned photographer and teacher, David Simchock. With time for expert critique both during and after days of work ‘in the field’, this workshop will inspire you and expand your creative comfort zone. The texture of earth, the subtle play of light on stucco and stone, luxuriant gardens and the natural palette of one of the most beautiful places on earth are waiting for you.

For full details about this rewarding workshop, including our itinerary and pricing, visit 2013 Photography Workshop in Florence & Tuscany

We look forward to your joining us in bella Italia!

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Facade, Santa Croce, Florence

This is a quick note to let everyone know that the entrance fee at the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence has been increased effective March 1, 2012. New price per person, adult, not with a group, is Euro 6.00 per person. As with all things Florentine and Italian, prices continue to rise. Hope that this information is of assistance as you travel. Mark

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Snowy Bench, Roma, February 2012                    Photo AP

Snowy Jazz

Rome Italy

February 4 2012

            To discover Rome enfolded in glistening white snow is magical; the city is reborn.

Previously unnoticed places shimmer anew in the ancient city. Rustications on an ancient wall create a pattern reminiscent of mottled leather. The icy surface of the Tiber river reflects an uncharacteristically stark outline of the Castel Sant’Angelo. Nuns laugh as they create a snowman near the center of Piazza San Pietro. Tuxedo jacketed staff sweep snow from the entrances of cafés and restaurants. Snow shovels? Who ever heard of such a thing in Roma?

Along the Via dei Genovesi in the Trastevere neighborhood, a young man sits on a rickety wooden chair and plays his guitar. In the eerie blue-veiled onrush of winter evening, the sound of his music is muted by snow-covered streets and balconies. The muffled sounds lend an increasingly ethereal feeling to bianca Roma, white Rome.

Since buses are nearly at a standstill, a long walk seems appropriately in order. My destination is the AlexanderPlatz Jazz Club, located near the corner of Via Santamaura and Via Ostia, only a few blocks north of Vatican City.

Louis Hayes and the John Webber Trio are performing tonight. The first set begins at 10:30PM.  The place is packed. AlexanderPlatz is the most famous, and the oldest, jazz venue in Italy. You cannot smoke in such places anymore in Italy; from my perspective a good thing. I can imagine, though, such clubs when the attendees filled the air with a curtain of smoke from “Nazionali,” a famous and inexpensive brand of Italian cigarettes.

As I relax with a good local red wine, the performance begins.  For the next hour and a half we all delight in the talent that epitomizes great jazz. A haze of steam rises from wet clothing. Vapor wraps around the a few colored lights above the stage. “Midnight in Paris”? It has nothing on this experience. We might as well be ensconced in some 1930’s Roman jazz club, Geraldine Baker, perhaps, at the bar . . .

This is one of the locales few tourists know. Occasionally, the sound of American English stands out amidst the conversations that fill the air between pieces. It is more comforting to find retreat amidst the locals, and just be.

Near midnight, I leave the club and return to my hotel through a strangely black and white Eternal City, crossing the river on the Ponte Cavour, and revel in the memories and magic of a special gift from bella Roma; snowy jazz.


AlexanderPlatz Jazz Club

Via Ostia, 9

Roma, 00192

Email: info@villacelimontanajazz.com
Tel: 06 39742171 – after 6:00PM
Monday-Thursday: Performances being at 9:45PM
Friday and Saturday: Performances begin at 10:30PM

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I’ve just returned from Christmas Eve services at San Giorgio Maggiore, Palladio’s magnificent church on its island across from Piazza San Marco. A faded green and yellow vaporetto awaited our boarding. We departed into mist-veiled midnight.

Between points of solid land, in space marked by few reference points, we glided across the ebony fog-shrouded, mirror smooth, waters of the lagoon. The peace of the boat was interrupted only by an occasional splash of water against hull. Passengers were silent. Perhaps they, as did I, recalled images of candle illuminated frescos, the heady fragrance of smoky incense, transported by those memories, the mystical soul of this extraordinary night.

December Light, Venice

Lights glowed from harbor markers as we passed prism globes afloat in misted air, suspended above the coal dark sea.

As we approached the landing at San Zaccaria, fog-veiled lights on palazzi, hotels and the Ducal Palace came to view. Everyone leaving the vaporetto was offered a kind, quiet, “Buon Natale” (Merry Christmas) by the attendant. Softly muted voices responded as passengers dispersed into the early morning.

As I turned down a darkened lane near my rooms a small dog and cat appeared, walking side by side, seeming oblivious to both their differences and my footfall. As they reached the end of the lane, they sat at the edge of a narrow canal.  Billows of fog breathed passed behind their silhouettes. I stopped to watch, noting the time; thirty minutes past midnight on Christmas morning. An old story of Christmas Eve, a time when animals could talk with each other, came to mind.

I wondered what conversation was passing between them

As I turned yet another corner I pulled the scarf up more tightly around my throat, shrugged the coat against my shoulders and left those two friends behind.

For centuries the world has known Venice as a city of mystery and beauty. For me, none more so than the Christmas Eve I was privileged to see the magic of the arriving day rise in two animals, no more alike than earth and moon, as they welcomed in the gifts of Christmas Day

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Welcome to the world of Private Italy Tours LTD

The goal of our journeys is to expose travelers to the exceptional heart of this stunning country. Clients have time to explore and relax on their own; in Florence and the hill towns of Tuscany, afloat on the canals and lagoons in Venice, along the narrow streets of villages in Umbria, amidst the Roman ruins in and around Rome, while driving along the spectacular Amalfi Coast, or exploring the beautiful remains of Greek and Roman civilizations in Sicily.

Most importantly you will meet the people of Italy – the true heart of the country. We bring Italy to YOU!

We know you love Italy; come see it through our eyes.

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