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Thread: Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

  1. #1

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    Jun 2002
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    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    While I'm on the travel kick, another trip is to the small village of Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena in late May (Yes, I am lucky but this is just us, a long overdue break w/o kids).

    Anyone have experience with the area? I suspect it is hard to go wrong...

  2. #2

    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    Hi Frank,

    Color me green with envy. As a student and later as a professor I spent a little time visiting the hill towns. Like someone pointed out in an earlier post you will be travelling during the height of tourist season so some of these towns may be more American and German than Italian. One of the coolest, but most overrun is Montepulciano. Its very well preserved and unique which I guess is why its so heavily visited. As a rule of thumb, if there's a major site to visit you can pretty much count on tourists. Another thing to consider, many of these towns have streets that are proportioned much more like slot canyons so your time of day shooting may be different than your normal practice.

    The following is some rules of thumb I tell my students so please excuse if it seems pedantic.

    I would recommend using your lightest kit possible as locals don't always appreciate inconveniences in their daily routine such as blocking the sidewalk. Travel in pairs, if your wife is a trooper have her along as an extra set of eyes to watch your gear. Street crime in Italy is very skilled at taking things in plain view. Don't wear shorts if you want to get inside churches, its considered disrespectful to show your knees. If you find a building or church that will allow you to take photographs inside make sure you have rubber tripod feet. You will not be allowed to shoot with spikes.

    Well, I'm sure you know all of that stuff anyway. Have fun.

    Here is a website with a good list of the better hill towns.

    www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/italy/hilltowns.htm

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    Frank you are in the middle of the Tuscany, more in the heart of "pittoresco".
    Here a usefull link http://www.barberinovaldelsa.net/
    With a little dictionary English-Italian you will have very interesting explanations about Barberino and the land. See Itinerari and the map that allow you to have informations on small village all around.
    May is excellent month to visit Italy and do not forget to see others regions they may reserve you huge surprises.
    Welcome home Franco Petronio. Even if Petronio is more South second name.
    Have a nice time in Italy
    Daniele

  4. #4

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    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    Everytime one of my family visits Palermo they are disappointed -- not that it isn't nice, but it isn't as friendly, safe, or as easy as Italy proper. And our relatives there are poorer (not distitute, but not like Milanese), and it is kind of like visiting the rural American South after California or New York City. So this time the Scilians will come to Tuscany to visit us!

    But it also illustrates why my great grandparents left in the first place...

  5. #5
    www.thinknegative.com.au
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    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    Frank, if time permits you can always go over to Umbria as it is much less crowded by tourists and much more 'preserved'. As for photographing, you shouldnt have any problems if you are not rude to anyone. You mention Sicily has difficulties. Try photographing in Napoli. Good thing I can understand and speak the dialect...

  6. #6

    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    Frank, I've never been to Barberino Val D'Elsa but in Tuscany you really can't gro wrong, just travel around following your instinct and you'll find amazing pictures everywhere!! )))

    Daniele pointed out a good website where to start from, anyway the Barberino Val D'elsa area is known for the beautiful medieval villages...in the nearby don't miss the Crete Senesi area and the Val d'Orcia, these are the places where all the pictures with the solitary cypress(es) above the hills are taken, or where some of the "abstract" Franco Fontana's pictures were taken...in the Val D'Orcia there are some of the most beautiful villages of Tuscany (like San Quirico d'Orcia), and in Montalcino is produced one of the finest (and expensive!!) wine in the world (Brunello di Montalcino)...

    Any plans to pass through Milan? I'll be very very happy to meet you in person...

    Ciao

    Marco

  7. #7

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    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    I was in that area to attend a wedding in 1996. It's beautiful. I was unable to take a view camera, but still made lots of pictures, quite a few of which still hold up after nine years. I think you'll find subject matter anywhere you turn, but I'd recommend a trip to San Gmingiano, the medieval hill town with many towers.

  8. #8

    Join Date
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    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    Public parking (free) behind the poet's statue. Tourist info undeground at the bus station; that's where you can reserve a time to visit musea etc in Florence, take the bus there. That way you'll avoid having to stand in a line-up. Internet access in the library or in Tavernelle in a stationery store, forgot address, close to city hall. Shopping for groceries etc in Coop, Tavernelle. More local flavour though in Barberino, store run by two sisters about 3/4 down the main street on your r hand side coming from the statue. Their brother bakes the daily fresh bread. Find out which day of the week store(es) are closed.

    Laundromat-ask in tourist office.

    Telefone on corner near statue, facing cafe. Get correct phone card in the magazine shop, then reserve dinner @ Bel Soggiorno in S Gimignano, ask for table at the big windows. (A minute or so walking from the Porte S Giovanni, where you can park).

    Inquire right away if there are concerts scheduled in the intimate Linari or S. Appiano churches.

    Picknick behind S Appiano church, on grass, Etruscan columns. Or behind Linari church, nice
    view.

    No shoulders to park on, and always a car right behind you. So you will have to turn around to shoot what you just passed. Friendly drivers though, no fingers or honking.

    Likely still some red poppies in the fields, and look for pale blue wistaria. May can be warm.

    Good view of Linari skyline from a private driveway, along road to Poggibonzi.

    Cistercian abbey in S Galgano.

    I shot with Mleicas and tripod once, last year took Deardorff with Readyloads.

    For Sienna look up NY Times in travel section, article not long ago, how to avoid walking with tourists.

    Italian TV programmes? Talent shows and Sposa me are entertaining.

    What else can I say, I'd visit there anytime.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    Frank. if you will decide to visit S. Gimignano take a look to Chiesa di S. Agostino
    you will find frescos of Benozzo Gozzoli one of the most underestimate Italian painter. Some others frescos by Benozzo you will find in La Colleggiata.
    But I want remind you that Tuscany is a piece of Italy......very charming, but the most photographed after Venice. The land of your ancestors is also a very photographic places and some of the Sicilian monuments are the finest in Italy. Take a trip during springtime in Sicily and you will have huge surprises.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    30

    Barberino Val D’Elsa, between Florence and Siena

    anywhere you are in tuscany you will not regret having your camera with you.
    between florence and siena you will find thousands (yes, thousands) of nice, genuine, "well preserved" (whatever it means) places, villages, towns to visit and take shots to.
    and please remember, tuscany as well as italy, is a land, is a country, is not a musuem.
    so, first of all, ENJOY it!
    saluti da un fiorentino

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