• Subscribe + Follow
    Sign up to receive breaking news as well as receive other site updates.
    Follow us on



Siena, Italy • June 28 – July 3, 2018
This workshop will take place during the famous “Palio” of Siena in July. It’s not easy to describe what the Palio of Siena is, and a workshop on this subject is equally complicated…! But let’s try.
The Palio of Siena is the most ancient horse race (and here is the first error because it is much more than just a race) in the world… it began in 1644…Of all the popular manifestations that have remained in the world, the Palio of Siena is one of the truest, most passionately-lived, and most influential on social life: it is not folkloristic, and it is not for tourists. It is quite the opposite…
It is the fruit of life for the contrada (a “clan”, “community”, or “neighborhood” within Siena) that takes place all year long and has been going on for more than 400 years.There are 10 horses with riders (and the rule is that it is the horse that wins the race, with or without its rider) that represent different contrade. They must complete three laps around the perimeter of the spectacular Piazza del Campo and the first to finish wins the race. Three minutes. This is the short version of the story.
The long version is infinite. On Google there are 2,570,000 results….We need to begin by speaking about the 17 different contrade that divide the territory of the city of Siena. Then, there is the passion of the people of Siena for the Palio, which is their life. Finally, there are the “fantini” (riders), berberi, capitani, cavalli scossi, mossa, berci, canape; Casato, cencio…
The only thing that everyone agrees on is that, in order to enjoy the energy of the Palio to its maximum degree, you must experience it for the entire four days that it goes on, following a contrada, if possible, and having a “contradaiolo” (a member of the contrada) as your guide. You should stay with the contrada until the day of the Palio and celebrate the victory with them, or suffer the defeat, or even worse, suffer the victory of the contrada’s adversary…!
If you don’t come from Siena, or you don’t have friends that are loyal to a particular contrada, choose one to your liking, because you like the name: there are many to choose from and any of them will be fine. Nicchio (Seashell), Valdimontone (Ram), Leocorno (Unicorn), Civetta (Owl), Torre (Tower), Onda (Wave), Chiocciola (Snail), Tartuca (Turtle), Aquila (Eagle), Pantera (Pantheress), Selva (Forrest), Drago (Dragon), Bruco (Caterpillar), Giraffa (Giraffe), Oca (Goose), Lupa (She-wolf), Istrice (Porcupine).
In the days preceding the Palio, there are two trials a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. You will have the whole day available to “live the life of the contrada”, to get to know the people around you, and in the evening, to eat dinner in the streets together with the true members of the contrada in the most beautiful city in the world. Maybe one day you can also take advantage of visiting the surroundings of Siena: but I doubt that you will be able to distract yourselves from the “fever” of the Palio….
Our point of view will be a privileged one from the inside. We want to make you understand the mechanisms of the Palio, have you participate in the life of the contrada, and immerse ourselves in this atmosphere, the only one like it in the world. We will not be tourist spectators, but instead we will engross ourselves in the spirit of this experience that must not be missed. Every day, we will meet to critique the photographic work but also to discuss the correct strategies for making the most of these days.

Andrea Pistolesi

Born in Florence in 1957, Andrea Pistolesi studied geography at the local university.  He still lives there, a place he considers more of an inspiration than a city.  As an evolution of his incessant desire to travel Andrea became a photo reporter, specializing in human and environmental documentation.   Today he is always working for Italian and international magazines, such as: Islands, Travel & Leisure, Geo, Departures, Hemispheres, Gulliver, Gente Viaggi, Bell’Italia, Bell’Europa, Airone, Viajar, Rutas del Mundo and many others.  His volumes on exotic destinations (Indonesia, New Zealand, Morocco, South Africa, Buddhist Asia) have been published, along with images of major European tourist destinations; he is the only photographic author for the Casa Editrice Bonechi in the United States and is currently creating a series about the major religions of the world for Touring Club Italiano.  Andrea has become known for his research in the use of light in his compositions, making them deeply personal images.  Every year he holds workshops on the profession of the reporter and the use of digital technology.  A step towards artistic photography was a natural evolution in his professional development.  He has had solo shows in Italy and abroad.  He participated in the VII Biennial of Photography in Turin and received first prize in Italy in 1998 for the Fuji European Press Award.  He has taken reportage images for advertising as well, including Iveco calendars.  Recently he has been interested in and developed his use of digital technology, a medium he defines as “ the rebirth of camera oscura for color photography.”
Dates: June 28 – July 3
Location: Siena
Workshop fee € 1200
We have reserved some extra rooms at a country house few minutes outside Siena, on the hills. There we will be able to have our classes, critique and slide shows. We have different accomodations, starting from € 60 per night. Meals will be independent.
For practical informations – accomodations, meals, transportaitons – click here
For costs and registration click here