Tuscany: Wandering the Back Roads, Volume I (2004)

Paula Chamlee

I traveled in Italy in 1967 when I was a stewardess for Delta Airlines (yes, we were called stewardesses back then), and when there were agreements between airlines for very cheap travel for airline personnel to destinations where one's own company did not fly. I loved Italy, which was a very exciting and romantic adventure for me at 22, and it was my first excursion off the North American continent.

And thus, Tuscany was high on the list for traveling and photographing in 1999 when Michael and I would be in Europe again. Because we were going to be in Austria to teach a workshop in May, we had discussed where we would like to spend considerable time photographing, and decided to continue on to Tuscany at the end of the month. 1999 also marked the first year that Michael and I shipped our photo truck overseas in order to photograph and camp, which proved beneficial as we wandered the back roads of Tuscany. Though it was a logistical, mechanical, and financial nightmare at times, it turned out to be the best way to have the freedom of movement and ease of working while traveling throughout the countryside. Everything inside our old Land Rover was carefully configured for access and ease of working, secured while driving, and, with a tent on top that popped up for sleeping, it was a convenient way to stop for the night. We could be very productive and adventurous as we traveled from north to south, and east to west, even to the Island of Elba, which is also in Tuscany.

The Italian people of the countryside were always warm and welcoming, and incredibly patient with our poor attempts at their language. Body language and facial expressions, however, paved the way.
Two books, Tuscany: Wandering the Back Roads, Volume I for me and Volume II for Michael were published in 2004 after three long journeys to Tuscany, one month each in the spring of 1999, spring of 2000, and fall of 2001. We each wrote personal accounts of our adventures in the Preface for Volume I, and the late Robert Sobieszek, Curator of Photography and Deputy Director at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art wrote a wonderful introductory essay, "Matters of Choice and Discovery." Ferenc Máté, author of The Hills of Tuscany, among many other titles, wrote a lovely Foreword.


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