Animali Toscani

 

It seems in Tuscany even the animals are ridiculously photogenic and happy to strike a pose.

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘There’s a reason they call it a door FRAME’.

I’m not a huge animal person, but seemed to be followed by cute creatures everywhere I went. Not forgetting of course the infamous Socrates.

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Looking forward to putting my feet up and watching a nice bit of telly.’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Around every corner is……… another corner’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Mumm-eeeeee we’re STAAAAAAARVING’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘What was he saying about corners?’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘I am  so, so, so, so, so, SO bored.’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Like REALLY bored.’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Like friggin’ HUMUNGOUSLY bored’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

In Tuscany even the snails are cute.

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘One sheep…two sheep…three sheep….four sheep’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Sheesh, what do those dogs want now?’

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Animali Toscani - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘I just want to lie here next to the flowers so you can take my portrait’

See also, Le Casacce, our Tuscan home from home; Tuscan street photography, Tuscan churches.

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Antica Tenuta Le Casacce

 

Jamie and Ilva found the most stunning location for our Tuscan adventure.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Antica Tenuta Le Casacce is an agriturismo owned by Roman chef Enrico Casini, situated near Seggiano in the glorious landscape of the Val d’Orcia, whose timeless hills and valleys are deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enrico used to run six restaurants in Rome before settling down in his beloved Tuscany and his amazing four course meals every evening were a true highlight of our stay (we also did a cooking class with him – recipes appearing on the blog shortly, yay!).

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Linda Bass of Tuscan Muse offers a selection of creative workshops in conjunction with Enrico based at Le Casacce. Retired trial lawyer Linda is warmth and generosity personified – nothing was too much trouble – and a fabulous writer, artist and photographer in her own right. Her workshops include not only first class instruction but also a number of day trips to the small hill top villages which dot the surrounding hillsides.

However, with accommodation and surroundings like this, it was nearly impossible to drag ourselves away. Come and visit this little corner of paradise. Oh and meet Socrates, the resident manic depressive donkey and star of Le Casacce.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Not a bad view from the pool.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Not a bad view from the terrace.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s Jamie coaching Deepa from One Small Pot.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And here are Linda and some of the ladies working hard.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The old stone buildings were charming inside too.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s the ghost of a photo studio at night.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Minx would have loved the wooden cats hanging out outside.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s Chef Enrico presenting his incredible food.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com
Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com
Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And here’s Ilva being Ilva.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And a couple more of Socrates gambolling in the sunset. Life is sweet at Le Casacce.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Tuscany, I can’t recommend Le Casacce highly enough. And Linda’s Tuscan Muse creative workshops are pretty special too, as you’ve probably already worked out.

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Tuscan Churches and a Personal Revelation

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

You would be hard pushed to find a less religious person than me but I do adore a good church.  Particularly a good European church where the very stone has been engraved by centuries if not millenia of stories and ghosts, joys and sufferings. Even the air seems full of other peoples’ memories somehow.

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

We were lucky enough on our Tuscan travels to visit a number of ancient churches and abbeys, whose spare, austere, stripped down beauty made a moving contrast to the overwhelming rococo splendours of those various cathedrals and duomos commissioned mainly to celebrate the wealth and prestige of that particular city’s inhabitants.

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I also had a bit of a revelation on this trip, one that hit me with an almost spiritual force, the discovery – thanks to Jamie Schler’s patient tutelage -  that I can write, that I might even be a good writer, but it’s so much easier for me to hide behind a rococo façade of sarcasm and terrible puns. I learned that I’m scared of seeming pretentious and inauthentic when I write, but that good writing involves writing from the heart and making oneself vulnerable and for me that is difficult in the extreme. I don’t consider myself to be particularly emotional, and find delving even a little deeper into my own thoughts and feelings – getting down to the soft person beneath the hard, snarky carapace – to be almost completely terrifying.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this newfound knowledge. It’s currently percolating around in my brain. But expect some attempts at some more ‘writerly’ writing on this blog in the future. And even saying that out loud scares the bejeebus out of me.

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

In the meantime, back to churches (this is all going to make sense soon I promise).

On our trip to the Renaissance town of Pienza we were given the task of thinking about a person, a colour, a sound, an emotion and a smell, and then for a quick fifteen minute assignment weaving them all into a small composition. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I chose to write about a church as they’re some of the places where, despite my lack of belief, I feel most emotionally responsive and vulnerable, yet also most comfortable and at peace.

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

“I looked up at the stone walls of the cathedral – centuries old, they were a symphony of soft neutral colours – faded ochre stone, soft mushroom brown wood, the pale rose of ancient terracotta – which all combined to create that colour watercolourists know as raw Sienna, a colour which I finally found myself fully understanding, since these golden walls stood only a few kilometres from Siena itself.

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Outside a tall, spare, white-haired man, in a neatly pressed black suit and a white dog collar, walked from the church towards the other side of the piazza. He unfurled a gigantic handkerchief as white as his hair, blew his nose extravagantly and glared at me, as if daring me to whip out my camera. Then he proceeded with hurried steps to the raw Sienna building across the square, opened the antique wooden door and disappeared into the shadowy depths of what I assumed was his home.

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I, on the other hand, entered through the antique wooden door which led into the cathedral and was immediately assailed by the scent of old churches – that indescribably potent mixture of incense and beeswax, of flowers and damp, of the small homage of careful cleanliness and floral tributes, still somehow weighted with the dust of centuries.

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’ve only ever smelled that smell in Europe, never in America, and at once I was overwhelmed with nostalgia for a world full of old things and history, for tradition and timelessness, for stories stretching back century after century, for the Old World, for my world, for home.”

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Tuscan Churches - photography by www.paolathomas.com

With many thanks to the Abbey of Sant’Anna in Camprena (location apparently for many scenes from the English Patient) ; the Abbey of Sant’Antimo; the Duomo di Sovana; the Church of Santa Maria, also in Sovana; Pienza Cathedral, the Church of San Francesco, also in Pienza for helping me illustrate this post.

Join me here for some Tuscan Street Photography.

I think I need a lie down after all that. I’m sure we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled snark very soon.

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Tuscan Stories

So, dear hearts, I’m back from two weeks away in Tuscany – and a few days getting over an epic forty-four hour journey across the world (involving only one lost bag containing all my camera lenses, thankfully recovered), my usual chronic jetlag and the most amazing creative high.

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Nonna Agata would like to inform you she doesn’t need yoga, she has a herb garden

I was attending the very first Plated Stories workshop, taught by Ilva Beretta and Jamie Schler, the two genius ladies behind the award-winning Plated Stories blog – and the combination of top quality food photography and food writing instruction, new and unbelievably talented friends, the stunning location of the agriturismo where we were staying, and our trips out to some of the most beautiful hilltowns in Tuscany, served to nearly make my head (and camera) explode.

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Guido and Silvia wonder where the heck they parked the Vespa

I’m still processing my thoughts and processing the exactly 2,000 photos I apparently took while I was there. If you’re not in the market to see hundreds of pictures of Tuscany over the next few weeks, I would quietly exit stage left now. Believe me I will understand.

When you think of Tuscany you think of dreamy landscapes and ancient buildings, and yes, we saw our fair share of those. What I hadn’t realised was the amazing scope it holds for street photography. Here are a few of the little ‘Tuscan Stories’ I encountered.

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

“Tell that bitch I didn’t want to be invited to the wedding anyway”

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Francesco and Lorenzo briefly consider not being gay 

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

You know what they say…. big camera… big ice cream

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antonella wistfully remembers that time she nearly got a part as an extra in La Dolce Vita

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Hey Mummy, go faster, we can’t let her win again’

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Tell those tourists that if they want anything else to eat they can flippin’ well cook it themselves. Stronzi!’ 

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Federica wistfully remembers the days when her husband still bought her flowers

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Wonder if we’ll still be friends when we grow up’?

Tuscan Stories - photography by www.paolathomas.com

‘Isn’t it amazing that we’re still friends after all these years!’

Lots more Tuscan street photography (and more photography of every other possible description) to come!  I’m going to be milking this trip for MONTHS!  I bet you can scarcely stand the excitement.

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