This spring has been rather eventful when it came to traveling. After visiting Barcelona for a long weekend, I made my way to Budapest, Hungary, to meet with my parents, and catch up with family and friends.
Since April in Helsinki can still be rather stark and grey, I was happy to have some real spring in Budapest, with everything in bloom, and warm and sunny weather.
But Budapest wasn’t my final destination for this time. I signed up for a photography workshop earlier this year, and it took me to Italy. I was in Italy before quite many times, but mostly for family ski holidays, so apart from the mountains, I haven’t seen much more.
I was in Turin for a week a few years ago, and I really liked the city, but never visited Tuscany before. I never went souther than Turin and Milan, so I was looking forward to this trip.
The workshop itself was a wedding- and portrait photography one, and I mostly joined to expand my portfolio and to see a bit of the different parts of this country. The group traveled by bus all the way from Budapest, and for most of the time, it had the feeling of a high school field trip. 30-something photographers and a dream team of models make up artists, hair stylists, and wardrobe stylists spent five days on a bus, with a bunch of beautiful Daalarna wedding gowns.
We had accommodation in different cities every day, to be able to cover as many different locations as possible.
The first stop was Miramare in Trieste, which is a beautiful castle towering over a gorgeous turquoise Mediterranean sea.
Here we spent a few hours taking photos of our beautiful models: a sweet young couple, Lilla and Martin, and a pair of more seasoned models, Luca and Ádám.
We then continued to go south towards the heart of Tuscany. The second day we were taking photos in a charming old hilltop town, Cortona. The center of the old town seemed like time stood still. In the afternoon on the streets, kids were playing football, in front of the tiny coffee shops the local old men were sitting, chatting and enjoying a slow day. The tourists were buzzing from street to street, sitting on the terraces, experiencing the real Italian coffee, and of course ice cream. Towards the evening when our group became tired, and we lost the available light, we headed towards the restaurants for dinner. Of course, you can’t enjoy Italy without enjoying some of their traditional food – and I had the chance to learn earlier in my life that the real Italian cooking consists of using the best quality, fresh ingredients, and creating a harmony of tastes without overusing any spices. I ordered a plate of tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and had a glass of wine to go with it.
Italian food, in my opinion, is pure poetry on the plate. I think my favorite dish is Caprese salad, made strictly with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil. One thing is sure, Italians really know how to make a perfectly balanced dish even with three ingredients.
Cortona and other timeless tiny cities are great to spend a few days at. The town is also on a hilltop, as it used to be a fortress where the villagers could retrieve in case of danger, with tall walls around, and a great view to a typical Tuscany view. More hills, olive tree plantations, and farmhouses.
If I think about how many people choose to have a destination wedding in the area, I can’t help but agree with them. This region has such a charm, beautiful light, great food from the freshest ingredients, and also excellent wine selection. Also, the weather is more reliable than in Finland, so an outdoor feast is more attainable. Who wouldn’t want to have an outdoor ceremony in the garden of a manor, surrounded by historical hills, and olive tree gardens?
During these five days spent traveling around the region, we also spent a night in one of these beautiful manors. The owners had a lemon- and orange trees in big pots, and a classic garden that you see on renaissance paintings. A perfect hideaway for any couple.
After spending some time around the manor, we took a turn towards Siena – a larger city, also with a colorful history and culture. Its square is the center of life, with terraces all around, and a lot of people just sitting on the ground on the square, passing the time. The small, curving streets around the square offered a real Italian city view, with the Vespas, people hurrying to or from work, and plenty of small shops, some more touristy than the others.
Of course, many shops offered the perfect souvenirs. Besides fridge magnets and postcards, there was an abundance of spices, dried porcini mushrooms, risotto mix, and of course wine. I stumbled upon a more quiet delicatessen owned by an older very much grandpa-looking man. I was over the moon with the store’s offering, and quickly got a selection of spices, rice, dried mushrooms, and fresh raspberries.
In Siena, we also had more free time so I could take my time to walk around, and really soak up the Italian way of living: dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing, nowhere to run, just take time and enjoy sitting on a terrace with some lovely food, or coffee, and just be in the moment.
After Siena, it was time to go back toward Budapest. We stopped for one last afternoon of shooting in Treviso. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to really look around there, as we had a tight schedule. One last scone of ice cream and we were off to Hungary.
I hope I will be able to return to Tuscany at another time, hopefully, to photograph weddings there too.
Special thanks to Tímea Jaksa and Katalin Néveri for making this trip possible, and for the wonderful team of models, make up artists and hair stylists, who created beauty at every location.
Models: Lilla & Martin
Bride’s gown: Daalarna