Top 5 secret locations for photography lovers in Tuscany

Many travelers claim that "it's practically impossible to take a bad photo in Tuscany" but it’s really tough to take original travel photos while visiting the most popular sites such as the Florence Cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Piazza del Campo in Siena. If it's not your first time in Tuscany, if you always seek for "off the beaten path" experiences or if you are a photography lover this post is tailored for you. We have asked five Tuscan professional photographers to reveal one of their secret locations for amazing and unconventional photos of Tuscany. Previously we have dedicated an article to these photographers and we invite you to check out their works, you'll explore Tuscany through the keen eyes of some of our favorite locals! Are you a photographer and do you have a secret place in Tuscany you'd like to share? Write us at socialmediateam[at]fondazionesistematoscana.it, we'll be very happy to see your photos and read your tips!

Botro ai buchi, Castel San Gimignano (Siena)

by Diego Colivicchi. "For me, Botro ai Buchi is a magical place and not many people know about it. It's a natural canyon located in the reserve of Castelvecchio and it is accessible by car from the road that leads from Castel San Gimignano to San Gimignano. Look for the parking lot and follow the marked path. It takes about a 30 minute walk to reach the canyon and the trail is very bumpy. Entering, you'll feel the high humidity and, compared to the surrounding area, the sudden temperature drop.

Botro ai Buchi [Photo Credits: Diego Colivicchi]
Botro ai Buchi [Photo Credits: Diego Colivicchi]

Botro ai Buchi is a deep gorge surrounded by woods, with high rock walls covered with mosses and ferns of various genres. It recalls the setting of a fantasy movie. The vegetation is very green in every season due to the high humidity. To fully appreciate the beauty of the canyon, it should be visited in the hours of the day when the sun is stronger and vertical so that the light can seep inside: around 4 pm, the canyon looks too shady and dark to be appreciated. Wear appropriate shoes to ensure a good grip on wet rocks and be careful not to slip. It takes about 10 minutes to pass through the canyon and the last part has been recently equipped with ropes on the walls in order to cross the puddles of water. It is a strange and beautiful place, unusual for the Tuscan landscape. I like to go there at least four or five times a year to admire the intense green of the vegetation and the rays of light filtering into the canyon." Read also: Around Volterra: some photos by Diego Colivicchi.

Botro ai Buchi [Photo Credits: Diego Colivicchi]
Botro ai Buchi [Photo Credits: Diego Colivicchi]

Col di Melo, Monte Folgorito (Massa Carrara)

by Matteo Dunchi. "The Monte Folgorito is one of the best sights of the Apuan Alps. Although it is only a modest peak of 900 m, from here, on a clear day, you can see the Ligurian Alps, the Gulf of Poets, the island of Corsica and the Tuscan archipelago, especially Elba island. It is easily accessible from Massa in 30 minutes by car and then about 40 minutes walk along a gravel road, which is very easy and suitable for all. At the end of the path you reach "Col di Melo", a flatland at the foot of the summit of Monte Folgorito, named after the apple tree that you can find there. This place is perfect for picnics and family trips.

The
The "Col di Melo" tree [Photo Credits: Matteo Dunchi]

The Folgorito has a historical importance: the Gothic Line passed from here, where a German outpost stood. In these mountains bloody and crucial battles have been fought for the control of the territory. You still find the trenches and the original structures dating back to the WWII. There is also a monument and some commemorative plaques.

The view from Monte Folgorito [Photo Credits: Matteo Dunchi]
The view from Monte Folgorito [Photo Credits: Matteo Dunchi]

The trails around Mount Folgorito and near Pasquilio (where you leave the car if you come from Massa) are popular among trekking and mountain bike lovers. Routes vary in degree of difficulty, from the dirty roads to the scenic trails with wooden structures (jumps, bridges). The Monte Folgorito peak is easily recognizable from the Tuscan coast thanks to its characteristic cone shape with a big cross on the top. From the "Col di Melo" the summit can be reached with a 10 minutes walk but the route is quite challenging." Read also: Massa Carrara province seen through the lens of Matteo Dunchi photographer

Poggio Pinci, Asciano, (Siena)

by Frank Andiver.

"I chose this place for several reasons. The first is that it is easily reachable. Poggio Pinci is situated in one of the most beautiful and scenic areas of the Crete Senesi, near Asciano. The second is because from this small hamlet you can reach the famous Montalceto viaduct, the more characteristic railway viaduct along the Nature Train trail. This vintage train offers the possibility to slowly savour the Val d’Orcia area and Siena province from March to December (check out the Nature Train 2014 calendar).
The Montalceto viaduct [Photo Credits: Frank Andiver]
The Montalceto viaduct [Photo Credits: Frank Andiver]

The third reason why I have chosen Poggio Pinci is because from every corner of this small village you can compose beautiful and different pictures of the Crete Senesi. In the village, consisting of a few houses, there is also an agriturismo (read about farm-holiday houses in Tuscany) where you can stay. My advice is to visit Poggio Pinci at any time of the year because this landscape offers a magnificent scenery that always makes you gasp. Once you get to Poggi Pinci, walk the dirt road that surrounds the village: depending on the time of day you can notice a new and charming detail. Check the annual calendar of the Nature Train (which operates only few days of the year) and from Poggio Pinci, in the morning and in the evening, you can watch the passage of the historic steam train. It is also very easy to spot deer and fallow deers." Read also: Trains in Tuscany, photos by Frank Andiver.

The panorama from Poggio Pinci [Photo Credits: Frank Andiver]
The panorama from Poggio Pinci [Photo Credits: Frank Andiver]

Villanova, Empoli (Florence)

by Luca Matulli. "I have chosen a simple and natural place, in a generous area full of landscapes and typical products of Tuscany. Villanova is a small hamlet surrounded by hills and bordering the municipalities of Empoli (which is only 5 km away), Montelupo Fiorentino and Montespertoli. The San Donato Val di Botte church and the sunflowers field give this place a great charm.

San Donato Val di Botte church [Photo Credits: Luca Matulli]
San Donato Val di Botte church [Photo Credits: Luca Matulli]

Over the doorway of the church there is the emblem of the Order of the Knights of Malta which is the evidence of the existing building demolished in the 18th century. The interior is sober and, among other works of different artistic periods,  a crucifix of the XIV century from the Giotto school stands, placed in the vault of the chancel. The presbytery is very characteristic itself because frescoed by a local artist inspired by those of the Brancacci Chapel in Florence (made by Masaccio).

The ridge that crosses the river Piovola [Photo Credits: Luca Matulli]
The ridge that crosses the river Piovola [Photo Credits: Luca Matulli]

Near the church there is a particular bridge that crosses the river Piovola, connecting the church of San Donato Val di Botte to the old Maremmana road. The legend says that it dates back to the Roman times, but according to reliable sources it dates back only to the 16th century. It is characterized by six arches and it's really interesting because the structure is the one of the large bridges... but in a small scale!" Read also: Beautiful Florence, old photo effect by Luca Matulli.

La Piaggetta, Massarosa (Lucca)

by Giancarlo Cerri. "The place that I have chosen is the the jetty of Villa Ginori in Versilia. From this pier Giacomo Puccini, one of the greatest composer of Italian opera, shuttled back and forth between the Villa and Torre del Lago."

Boats in Villa Ginori [Photo Credits: Giancarlo Cerri]
Boats in Villa Ginori [Photo Credits: Giancarlo Cerri]

To reach this place you have to leave the road Sarzanese-Valdera in Quiesa and follow the signs for Massaciuccoli. Once you get in front of La Brilla building, right after the sports ground, turn right onto a country road and reach the end of the street, where you will see a B&B. Ask to enter and here is the location. Read also: The Garfagnana of the past by Giancarlo Cerri photographer

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To find these places, you don't need to spend time searching! On this map you find all the exact locations and the only thing left to do is to grab your camera and head out for this photo adventure:

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