Against the Traffic: BAGNO VIGNONI, ITALY



Every photographer has their own rhythm, their own beat. It’s the way you prepare for your shoot, the ritual you run through readying your mind, your equipment, everything you do to assist in a successful outing.

 I for one enjoy the quiet of my mind and draw within when I get out there with my camera. Some, I know, prefer the companionship of comrades as opposed to the solitude that I so much enjoy.

 When traveling to new countries or locations for the first time, it is only natural to seek out the most traveled or noteworthy sites. As an example, your first time to Italy will most likely draw you to Rome, Venice or Florence. They are wonderful and have infinite photographic possibilities. But this series of articles will explore some of the lesser known locations that I found along the way. They are remarkable photographic opportunities.

 BAGNO VIGNONI is an ancient village in the heart of Tuscany situated in the Val d’Orcia National Park. I was first introduced to it years ago when studying at TPW (Toscana Photographic Workshop) as it had become a favorite evening hangout for many of the students.

 Thanks to the Via Francigena (which was the main route followed by pilgrims in antiquity who went to Rome), … thermal waters were found and have been used since Roman times. At the heart of the village is the “Square of sources“, namely a rectangular tank, of 16th-century origin, which contains the original source of water that comes from the underground aquifer of volcanic origins. Since the Etruscans and Romans – as evidenced by the numerous archaeological finds – the spa of Bagno Vignoni was attended by eminent personalities such as Pope Pius II, Santa Caterina da Siena, Lorenzo the Magnificent and many other artists who had elected the village as main holiday resort. … Bagno Vignoni, … despite numerous incidents of war, devastation and fires that involved the Val d’Orcia in the Middle Ages, remains essentially unchanged. … From Bagno Vignoni, you can easily reach the historical centers of nearby Pienza and Montalcino, and the general Val d’Orcia area, including the Park of Mount Amiata. (Wikepedia)

 The village provides exceptional photographic challenges. By day, this sleepy village hosts wonderful hillside and mountain views of the valley below. You are also treated to a haunting scene of Rocca d’Orcia (subject of my next post). The thermal waters course through the hills and carve fascinating archeological dig-like opportunities. A small park with children, the occasional hardy biker, folks staying at the nearby hotels and spas, dipping their feet in the waters, are all click-worthy. But at night, it all begins to happen! The holiday-like lights throughout the village take over from the long Tuscan setting of the sun. The Square of Sources captures the reflections from the surrounding shops and restaurants. Its’ glow is magical and tempts your skills for night shooting.

 Hotels, spas and B&B’s sprinkle the area. With a little luck, you can find one just outside of town, down by the rolling Tuscan Hills. I can provide some recommendations, if you are interested. The restaurants are of typical Tuscan delight and my mouth is drooling at the very thought of the incredible red wines made in these very hills.

Happy shooting!

How to reach Bagno Vignoni: From Siena, direction SS2 Isola d’ Arbia, reach San Quirico d’ Orcia, remain on the Cassia Road (SS2) direction Rome, only 5 Kms.

 You can see some of my shots from Tuscany at www.richsmuklerphoto.com