Autumn Arts Festival-Travel Photography

DATES: 10/21/2024 - 10/29/2024
PRICE: $3,975.00

Marie has been immersed in photography and photography education for more than 20 years and is passionate about sharing her knowledge about photography, cameras and digital technology with others.

Whether she’s teaching photography, helping one better understand their camera or “see” better compositions, she works to build one’s confidence and take away the intimidation and sense of overwhelming that often accompanies learning new things. She finds just the right way to take complicated concepts and explain them in a logical, easy to understand way.

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Marie founded Capital Photography Center in January 2012 to help those with a love of photography grow their skills and reach their goals – be it to capture better snapshots or become a professional photographer. To this end, her company offers a wide variety of photography classes taught by professional photographers and renowned photographic educators where amateurs, hobbyists and professionals can learn about the areas of photography suited to their interests and experience level.

In addition to running her business and teaching, Marie finds time to enjoy her own photography and loves capturing people; both candid and posed, beautiful country landscapes and dynamic cityscapes; both in daylight and at nighttime.  Her travels have given her the opportunity to photograph in Venice, Tuscany, London, New York and various other locations in the United States.

Originally from Michigan, Marie has lived in Alexandria, Virginia (outside of Washington DC) for the past 30 years with her husband.

Il Chiostro celebrates the harvest time of the year in Tuscany with The Autumn Arts Festival. We offer 3 separate workshops that all overlap throughout this week-long celebration of the arts, the harvest, the wine and this wonderful region of Italy.  The workshops are:

In addition to your workshop we offer Italian Opera Appreciation lectures with Prof. Patricia Pease each evening before dinner.  This is open to all participants.

Program DescriptionTravel Photography:

Plan your dream vacation – join Marie Joabar in Tuscany, Italy for an exciting 8 days photographing this picturesque region!

Historic walled cities, charming villages, sprawling wineries and ancient cathedrals, these are just some of the places we will visit on this fall photography workshop in beautiful Tuscany. Italy is gorgeous any time of year but the autumn provides some of the best photographic opportunities and we’ll enjoy capturing them all.

Whether you’re an experienced shooter or are just picking up your camera for the first time, all will come away with stronger skills in exposure, composition and camera settings. We’ll maximize our time in the field photographing and will be learning hands-on. Our group size will be 8 to 10 people so whether we’re exploring the Tuscan countryside or the city of Siena, everyone will get plenty of one-on-one instruction.

We’ll build in some down time (when we are not in the field actively shooting, such as evenings etc.) to review images from the day’s shoot and learn from each other. We might also spend time working in Lightroom, learning how to edit our images to make them look their best.

Generally, your workshop will shape your activities at the Festival.  For example, the cooking class may go olive picking while the painters spend the day in Radda painting the vistas of the Tuscan hills and the photographers travel to Montalcino or Pienza for a full day shoot.  Then everyone will return to the winery in the evening for the opera class and dinner together.

Photo collage by Marie Joabar

Recommended gear:

  • Although any camera will do, we recommend one with exposure controls such as a DSLR or mirrorless camera for more creative exposure techniques and compositions.
  • Lenses in the range from 18mm to 200mm will be ideal. If you have wider or longer lenses, you’re welcome to bring them.
  • A circular polarizing filter if you have one.
  • Extra memory cards and batteries as well as battery charger.
  • Your camera instruction manual.

Optional Gear

  • Tripods are optional but if you have one bring it for our sunrise shoots and any low light or nighttime photo opportunities. If bringing a tripod, bring a cable release if you have one, otherwise we’ll use your camera’s self-timer.
  • An external flash unit if you have one and want to bring it.
  • Laptop with Adobe Lightroom Classic installed and a card reader if laptop doesn’t have a memory card slot.

NOTE:  when registering for this workshop, please indicate what camera(s) and lenses you will be bringing in the Notes section.  This will help Marie prepare for the group.

What people are saying about previous Autumn Arts Photography Workshops:

“The Il Chiostro photography workshop was the perfect combination of day trips to fabulous destinations throughout Tuscany for hands-on shooting, limited classroom instruction, interaction with the other participants of the Tuscan Cuisine and Painting workshops, and delicious food and drink.  It was truly one of my favorite vacations!  Our photography mentor and instructor Marie was wonderful – always available to answer questions and offer helpful suggestions, all while doing so as if we had been friends for decades.  Her passion for photography and desire to share her wealth of knowledge with others is unique and was very much appreciated.” — Robert M.

“What a great experience! If you enjoy good food, good wine, a beautiful resort in Tuscany, making new friends, plus advancing your photography skills, this is the adventure for you. I leaned so much from Marie.” — Larry N.

“Marie is a patient and encouraging instructor. I had a great time and I learned a lot.” — Barb V.

“Loved your kind, patient and nurturing style in teaching us.” — Gwen W.

“The workshop was truly an awesome experience that we will never forget” — H & L McD.

Having had the good fortune to be one of the participants in last Fall’s Il Chiostro program in Tuscany, I would say the following: One could not have craved a more felicitous location than Dievole, the winery which hosted the retreat. All the pictures you will see of this estate will underestimate its beauty, which changes with the light, from morning till dusk, a photographer’s dream. The dinners were quite good, and often extraordinary, the breakfasts were extensive and challenged one’s capacity for self control. The accommodations were luxurious. We traveled to a variety of towns and locales within about an hour’s drive from Dievole for photographic opportunities. Our drivers, who doubled as guides and factotums and artists and experts on all things Italian, were folks you would want to keep as friends. They resided with us at Dievole. The staff at the winery were attentive and helpful in that friendly and delightfully informal Italian way. Marie was an excellent hands on teacher and a wonderful person. She was always available to provide help and advice and devoted several hours of in-house time to an introductory course on Lightroom, a real boon to beginners. I would highly recommend this workshop to others. — Robert K

Click here to view Images from participants from the 2018 Tuscany Photography Workshop

Photographing in the Val D’Orcia, Tuscany, photo by Marie Joabar

In Pienza, photo by Marie Joabar

Price: $3,975* p/p

  • Single supplement – $695 (limited number available)
  • Suite supplement   – $450 p/p (limited number available)

*2023 Price retained only until December 31, 2023


  • Room (double or suite) with full bathroom
  • 2 meals per day (dinner with wine and full Tuscan breakfast)
  • Workshop tuition and fees (except where noted)
  • General activities (except where noted)
  • Transfers between Siena train or bus station and Dievole

Note:  Departure is on morning of Tuesday, October 29th.

General Activities Open to All Participants (in addition to workshop):
Most activities take place in and around the 900 year old Dievole estate & vineyard.

  • Winery tour and tasting, featuring Dievole’s Chianti Classico
  • Italian Opera Appreciation classes every evening before dinner
  • Excursion to Siena
  • Dinner in the old cantina
  • Various topical excursions with your class
  • Special evening concerts and surprise entertainment, TBA
  • Pig Roast celebrating the harvest and the arts

Price does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Museum admissions
  • Gratuities

Contact us for more information: or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

Before sunrise at Dievole, photo by Marie Joabar

Dievole Chianti Classico Winery, Tuscany

Participants in the Autumn Arts Festival will stay in Dievole’s 16th century inn and guest houses floating in the magnificent Tuscan hills. We take over the whole winery so it will begin to feel like home after a few days.  The entire facility recently underwent a major facelift transforming all rooms into spacious, luxury lodgings.  Rooms are doubles or suites with modern bathrooms and heating.

A limited number of single rooms and suites are available for a supplement.

Dievole will seem more like a family inn rather than an impersonal chain hotel.  Dievole is located in the town of Vagliagli, about 12km northeast of Siena and 40km south of Florence. If you wish to explore the area independently during your stay we recommend renting a car. The link below will give you a glimpse of the winery:

Click here to visit Dievole’s web site…

Visit them on Facebook:


Die vole vineyards, photo by Jim Palmer

Dievole wine bottles-GRios

Dievole wine bottles, photo by Gilbert Rios

Gianni pouring-2014

Gianni pouring for a tasting, photo by Andy Holtzman


Dinner in the old wine cellar, photo by J Michael Sullivan


Dino ready to carve at the harvest pig roast


Early morning at Dievole, photo by Gabriella Pascoe


Orientation in the vintners’ room, photo by J Michael Sullivan

We will pick you up in Siena anytime between 1 and 5pm on the first day of the program. The recommended arrival airports are Florence or Rome from where you can take a bus or train to Siena. Florence is closer, but there are no direct flights from the US. You would have to change in another European city. Rome provides more flight options.

The bus/train from Rome to Siena is about 3 hours.

We can also arrange for a car to pick you up from Florence or Rome. You pay the driver directly. Just let us know a few days in advance so we can make the arrangemenst for you.

If you are departing from Rome on the last day, remember it is 3 hours by car or bus from Siena so try to book an afternoon flight.

If you have time, you might consider lingering in Italy for a few days extra on either end of the festival. Allow the Italian rhythms to seduce you. A few days in Rome or Florence upon arrival is a wonderful way to get over jet-lag. For other travel help check our Travel to Italy web page.

  • If you like dealing with a person, try our travel consultant, Gwynne, 608-791-8362   Mention that you are traveling with Il Chiostro.
  • For this trip and whenever you travel, we strongly recommend personal travel insurance. It protects you against penalties should you need to cancel your trip at the last minute. If you don’t have a policy, contact Travelex (800) 5047883 or [Note: Travelex requires that you take out a policy within 21 days of registering for a travel program.]

Specific Travel information to get to Dievole:

By Train: There are regularly scheduled trains from all major towns and cities in Italy. Head towards Siena. From Rome there are several trains daily from the main station (Termini). You don`t need a reservation. Although you purchase a through ticket, it is necessary to change trains at Chiusi. The ride takes about 3.5 hours (approximately 240 km.) and the cost is around $20.
NOTE: in Italy it is the law to stamp your train ticket in the little yellow meter near each train platform. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines, even if you plead ignorance.
By Bus: There are also buses from almost anywhere in Italy to Siena. These are modern and comfortable coaches.

From Florence: buses leave the SITA terminal (next door to the train station) nearly every hour. If you take Siena Rapida, the ride is direct on the highway and should take 1 hour.

From Rome: the ride takes 3 hours (non-stop). If you plan to arrive at the Rome airport and plan to come directly to Siena, this is the quickest method. From the airport, take the train on the left-hand track to the Tiburtina station (NOT Termini). From there, go outside into the parking lot.
If you are already in Rome you can take the Metro to the Tiburtina station. Take the B (blue) line towards Rebibbia. Follow signs to Pzle. Stazione Tiburtina.
With the long side of the station at your back, cross under the overpass into the parking lot. Buy your ticket from the building marked Biglietteria C (17.50 Euros, approx. $20); the bus usually leaves from Gate 8. These buses leave every day at regular intervals. To get current fares and schedules for the Flix bus you can check their web site:

Once in Siena, get off at the Siena train station (Ferrovia). Don’t get off in the center of Siena.

Tuscany in autumn is a sensual feast. Russet and golden hills. Crisp air. Trees weighted with olives. Woods rich with mushrooms and chestnuts. The scent of grapes hangs over the valleys like mist. The harvest is the soul of the Tuscans. In autumn the hilltowns revert to the locals. Their art is to prepare the bounty: prosciutto, nuts, olive oil and especially Chianti. Traditional festivals celebrate every phase from the vendemmia (harvesting of grapes for wine) to the wild boar. Music, folklore, dancing in the piazza.And there, in the heart of Tuscany, is Siena. The legendary medieval town packed with history and art. In autumn, her museums and churches relax, uncrowded. The streets echo her architecture, art and heroes.

IC pix 07-425

Surrounding Vineyards, photo by Linda Mironti