Traveling in the low season is a photographer’s dream. I learnt to appreciate the low season as this is the only moment when I am free to travel, having a seasonal work back at home with cooking experiences for tourists.
There are obviously downsides in choosing the low season for your holidays: the weather might be a problem, some of the restaurants can be closed and most of the times you have less daylight.
But the edges of the low season far outweigh the disadvantages. You can skip endless queues for monuments and museums, visit the most spectacular landmarks without stumbling upon tourists taking selfies and dine in the most authentic places, feeling like a local. This is the silver lining of the low season: you have the chance to fully appreciate a city or a region, to experience it with the locals’ perspective and rhythms.
Winter is my favourite time of the year to explore Crete Senesi, a fascinating and quite unique area in between Siena and Val d’Orcia, one of the most spectacular landscapes of Tuscany. You can wander through these bare hills for hours, chasing the ever-changing light and the breath-taking landscape.
For this trip, we chose the Windsor camera and laptop backpack for DSLR which allows you to bring all the equipment you need, including a tripod, and it still has room for personal belongings or a picnic lunch.
These are five good reasons to organize a photo trip in the Crete Senesi area in the low season.
- A lunar landscape
The Crete Senesi, literally Sienese clays, have a striking lunar landscape. The typical badlands of these area, created by the erosion of a soil rich in clay, are known as calanchi, steep-sided valleys, while the white dome-shapes are known as biancane.
This unusual and dramatic makes this area stand out, it is so different from the sweet hills covered in vineyards and olive groves that you are used to see in Tuscany. Here you’ll capture photos that are a far cry from the usual postcards.
- Tone-on-tone photos
Forget the summery fields of gold or the greenest seas of tender grass of the spring season. Autumn and winter showcase all the shades of brown: bare trees, muddy country lanes and ploughed fields ready to be sowed. The Crete Senesi are the perfect spot to capture tone-on-tone photos that enhance the dramatic ridged surface of this land.
- Chase the cypress trees.
One of the icons of the Tuscan countryside, the cypress trees were probably introduced in the region by the Etruscans as a religious symbol. They were associated to burial grounds, even though nowadays they are diffused all over the countryside. They line country lanes, enhance the silhouette of hills and valleys and are used as windbreaks in this bare land.
Chase the best perspective to take your picture and use the country lanes to add movements to your photos.
- Look for patterns and geometry
The beauty of the natural landscape is rivalled only by the charm of the Monte Oliveto Abbey. You can visit the church, the cloister, the refectory, the ancient pharmacy and the library, which will give you more than a reason to spend some time with your camera and tripod in a mystic silence and calm.
If you are lucky, you could also hear the monks singing their Gregorian hymns.
- A grand view of Chiusure (and an unforgettable meal)
The view from Monte Oliveto Maggiore on the little village of Chiusure is worth the whole trip. You can park your car on the side of the road, next to a group of cypress trees. From there you can spot the village of Chiusure, perched atop the dramatic calanchi. Drive to Chiusure for a short walk in the village, where you cannot miss a quick and hearty meal at Locanda Il Paradiso.