There were many reasons why my family and I moved to Italy in 2010 but one of the most important ones was so that our young daughter could experience the Italian way of life, a slower pace, a family orientated life and to appreciate a country of such beauty.
Not only the beauty but the diversity. We live in Abruzzo in between the mountains and the sea, quite different to the rolling hills of Tuscany. And although we have many beautiful villages I love coming to Tuscany to photograph weddings in what must be some of the most stunning locations in Europe.
I've travelled around Tuscany many times and spent plenty of time in the cities and towns such as Florence and Sienna but coming back as a wedding photographer has meant I've had the pleasure of finding some new villages and towns that I would've otherwise overlooked.
And not only that, seen inside some great buildings that are otherwise not open to the public.
A great example being the town hall of Cortona, right in the historical centre of the town, the building is a medieval palazzo that has housed the seat of assembly of the town government for over 400 years. A stunning room, full of history and a pleasure to photograph in its own right, even better with a wedding insitu!
The steps lead out of the Palazzo down into the main piazza and into the hub of local life. In fact even though in the picture above it looks like we have the whole place to ourselves, one step behind me the piazza is full to the brim with the Saturday market stalls and shoppers. Come back here late afternoon and you'll find these steps the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by with the rest of Cortona.
And what I love most about this town is that it's so easy to get away from the crowds and tourists and even on a Saturday morning find places of beauty all to yourself.
These pictures were taken just a short walk up from the centre and are outside the church of Saint Francis.
And a word to any would be Tuscan brides, these cobbled streets can be steep for high heels!
These next few pictures tipify why so many brides choose to come and get married in Tuscany, the views! This villa is just a stones throw out of Cortona but all around you is green hills and sweeping vistas.
What better place to spend the afternoon with your wedding guests, taking in the view and dipping your toes in the pool!
Cortona is at the south eastern tip of Tuscany, right on the border of Umbria, whereas the following pictures were taken north of Florence around the villages of Dicomano and Sandetole.
Sandetole (Santo Ditale) 'the holy finger' is home to the convent of Sandetole that was previously inhabited by Francescan Monks. It's now open as a visitor centre and you have hold your whole wedding day here with the service held at the Church of St. Giovanni next door.
This couple travelled back to Dicomano for the rest of their wedding day and although the weather was somewhat stormy that afternoon you can still appreciate the incredible views on offer here.
These pictures were taken in the grounds of the Fattoria il Lago, above Dicomano. The fattoria is a working Tuscan winery and by the accounts of the wedding guests it offered a fantastic selection of wines.
Within the complex there is guest accommodation, fishing lakes, a restaurant and a pool.
And Dicomano itself, although bombed heavily during the Second World War is still an ideal location to explore the forests of Casentinesi, some of the most ancient woodlands in Europe.
A very popular part of Tuscany for weddings is Chianti, home to some of the most well known Tuscan towns and villages. In fact it's an area we explored ourselves on our honeymoon some years ago. All around this area there are luxurious villas perfect for wedding receptions and plenty of idyllic town halls to hold a wedding service.
The next selection of pictures were taken in Certaldo, or more precisely in Certaldo Alto, the beautiful medieval village above Certaldo. Travel by car into Certaldo Alto is limited to residents so visitors can either walk to the top or take the short funicular railway (we took the funicular!)
And since the comune buildings were closed for renovation work our couple here had the unique experience of getting married in the little de-consecrated chapel next door.
Among the crumbling frescoes it was a really special occasion.
And of course being so high up it afforded us great views to photograph as a backdrop after the ceremony.
As you walk around Certaldo Alto you can't help but be impressed by the way the town has been kept so well preserved. And a great time to visit? Every July there is a week long festival of street entertainers if you want to really experience something special.
Once again this couple returned to their villa for the wedding reception.
And as the sun was setting we got some great pictures around the grounds.
And on into the evening to enjoy those hot Tuscan nights outside.
Close to Certaldo is another of Tuscany's most appealing villages, San Donato in Poggio. Another hill top fortified medieval village that has kept all it's charm.
And the great thing about getting married here is that the service can actually be held outside in the main piazza. There's something very individual about having a wedding service outside whether it's on a lakeside, a beach or in a piazza.
Like most of the these medieval villages the main piazza is at the top of the town, always a good chance for me to get those typical strolling group shots as the guests make their way up there.
After the service we made our way around the streets to get some individual shots.
With it being after 1 pm the streets are of course empty. Italians aren't always predictable but in these smaller places you can guarantee you wont find an Italian around after the 1 pm lunch curfew!
Truth be told we did bump into one well wishing couple (but it turned out they were American!)
Back at the villa we got a chance to catch the some of the striking colours in the gardens.
And we couldn't finish without getting in an olive tree shot!
Even if you've been to Tuscany many times there is still so much waiting to be revealed. And there's nothing like finding some of the hidden gems mentioned on Tuscan villages whilst touring the magnificent countryside.
JHales Fotografia for wedding photography all over Italy.