When inspiration this good lands in our laps, it’s too hard not to fantasize about hopping on a plane to Europe tomorrow! Photography guru Mike Larson teamed up with stylist and event planner, Jill LaFleur of LaFleur Weddings and Events, to host this eye-candy photography workshop in the hills of Tuscany.
Complete with rolling vineyards, olive tree orchards, a sculpture garden, a historic landmark chapel, and an old family estate, this property could be a real-life backdrop for La Dolce Vita.
17th Century Family Manor
Built at the end of the 17th century, Villa di Catignano was home to the family of Monsignor Lodovico Sergardi, a writer and art aficionado. You’ll find sculpture gardens, frescoes and renaissance art throughout the estate, all part of the Sergardi family collection.
Villa Catignano has two buildings, the main villa and the fattoria. The villa was originally used by the Sergardi family, while the fattoria was mostly used for agricultural activity and as a production facility for the family’s chianti and olive oil collections.
Surrounding both structures are beautiful Italian gardens, incredible stonework, citrus groves, vineyards, olive trees, a swimming pool, and the list goes on. There are 26 total apartment units on-site, some with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, some with kitchens or fireplaces or their own private balcony.
Photography Workshop with Mike Larson and Jill LaFleur
Mike and his wife first visited Villa Catignano in 2007 and they’ve recommended the venue to friends and couples from all over the world. When he decided to put together a photo workshop in Italy, this was a natural location to choose with its plentiful gardens, architectural diversity and the multitude of gathering spaces.
Italian Countryside Inspiration
TVR: What inspired the look of the workshop?
JLF: When I think of Italy, I think of incredible food, wine, rustic pottery, beautiful thick rich raw linens, olive trees, romance and love. When all of these things are put together at a beautiful, historic villa in the middle of Tuscany, your eyes and heart are filled with love, passion and beauty! This is exactly what I felt and strove to create when styling Mike Larson’s Italian Workshop. When styling a wedding, I like to design based on the natural beauty of the place and I include the personality and style of the couple.
TVR: How did you utilize what was available on-site to style this shoot?
JLF: I created the bride’s bouquet out of the olive tree branches from the local olive grove, pulled together loosely and organically with beautiful wide silk ribbon and created a boutonnière to match. To pull the look all the way through, I created their dinner tablescape using a variety of clay pots filled with the beautiful olive branches, and included rustic local produce baskets filled with the bounty of the area.
TVR: Tell us more about the tabletop design
JLF: I love mixing textures and styles, so I paired the ivory stone place settings with delicate gold-rimmed wine glasses and had the menus printed on raw linen scrolls.
The raw linen runner on the wood table and cane seats completed this look and was created to make the guests feel they were invited to a personal home of the couple.
TVR: What other design touches did you add in?
JLF: I decorated the cake with local flowers and olive branches to keep with the overall theme and the escort card table was styled with a beautiful Romanesque statue with the cards in rows with olive branches in between.
“The second floor’s Southeast Room has a circle window that looks down the incredible driveway at sunrise. My favorite room is the second floor suite where you can see most of the courtyard, villa and Siena. The third floor has incredible frescos on the ceiling and is the warmest room in the winter.” – Mike Larson
Types of Events the Venue is Ideal For
Weddings, Wedding Ceremony, Wedding Reception, Group Getaway, Girls Trip, Birthday Party, Anniversary, Vow Renewal, Corporate Event, Holiday Party, Retreats, Family Reunions, Bachelorette Party, Workshops, Elopement, Engagement Party, Rehearsal Dinner, Honeymoon
Lots of candlelight lined the romantic ceremony to a beautiful church that is on-site at this incredible Villa where the couple said their vows surrounded by the romantic glow.
Located about five miles northeast of Siena, Villa Catignano is an ideal destination venue for those looking to spend time in the hills of Tuscany with close proximity to the city.
If you’re interested in seeing Italian art, we recommend heading to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (about 45 miles away). San Gimignano is another neighboring town, about midway between Florence and Siena, that’s worth a visit if you’re a history buff. The town dates back to the tenth century and features architecture dating back to the twelfth century.
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