Experience and Capture the Beauty of Northern Italy with Austin and Esther Mann

May 12-18, 2019 – Maximum 10
3650 euros per person, double occupancy; 4100 euros single occupancy.
Optional early-arrival day – 200 euros per guest.
Optional extra day at the end – 200 euros per guest.

Join us for a very special experience enjoying and photographing the local food, wine and stunning beauty of Northern Italy with Austin and Esther Mann from the home base of a recently-renovated, 18th c Italian villa located between Milan and Lake Como.

Austin & Esther, both accomplished photographers, will be joining us to provide iPhone photo training and insights throughout the week. Together, they’ve led workshops around the world and they love to teach iPhone photography because of how fun and easy it is to make wonderful pictures with just a little bit of guidance.

Beyond the experience of northern Italy’s amazing food & wine, this is a rare opportunity to hone your creative skills w/ world class teachers as we shoot, edit and refine your best photos to share with your family and friends.

Poggio Verde Country Villa

Lunches are primarily at Michelin-starred restaurants. Dinners are at the villa and feature locally-sourced ingredients. They are accompanied by special, small-production Northern Italian wines not readily available in the US.

Optional Early Arrival Day (Saturday, May 11)
Lunch and Dinner at Villa

Travelers arriving directly from the US to Milan (MXP) are encouraged to arrive on Saturday to spend the day de-jetlagging. We’ll serve lunch (on the Portico Coperto, weather permitting) and guests can then wander the villa grounds and settle in and play a game of badminton, bocce, foosball, or just relax until our casual dinner. (200 euro supplement per person to add the early arrival day).

Montevecchia (Sunday, May 12)
Lunch at Pierino

After breakfast we’ll have our first session, Covering the Basics. What’s the low-hanging fruit to help you shoot better iPhone photos? What are some things to think about on this trip? How to use your iPhone to shoot food, landscapes, architecture, etc. Q&A with Austin and Esther.

We’ll then walk to nearby Pierino, a lovely Michelin-starred restaurant, for lunch. Our driver will pick us up after lunch and take us to the hilltop village of Montevecchia with views of the Val Curone to the north and the Brianza countryside to the south. Austin will give us some tips and pointers as we capture images. If the local gelato shop is open we’ll avail ourselves of its treasures. 🙂 We’ll arrive home in time for a game of bocce before dinner at the villa and if the sun is just right we’ll walk up the hill for more sunset views.

Bergamo (Monday, May 13)
Lunch at Frosio
After a morning workshop with Austin and Esther (reviewing and editing images), our driver will take us to the superb Frosio restaurant outside of Bergamo. After lunch we’ll tour Bergamo, one of the most beautiful hill towns in Italy. With our excellent guide, Elena, we’ll visit the Renaissance and Roman sites of the city and take in (and capture) the views of the countryside. We’ll return to the villa to relax a bit and then enjoy dinner together.

Como, Cernobbio (Tuesday, May 14)
Lunch at Trattoria Laghee

Our driver will take us to the lakeside town of Cernobbio where we’ll enjoy lunch. Our driver will drop us off at Villa Olmo, from where we’ll walk along the lake on the Como Greenway toward the town of Como. We’ll visit the magnificent Como cathedral with its tapestries and walk around the old town of Como. Time permitting we can take the funicular up to Brunate for some breathtaking views above Lake Como. We’ll return to the villa in time to do some editing and organizing of our photos.

Valtellina (Wednesday, May 15)
Lunch at Ristorante Fracia

After breakfast we will head north along the east side of Lake Lecco into the steep wine-growing region of Valtellina. We will stop at the ruins of Castel Grumello before continuing to Aldo Rainoldi winery for a tour and tasting. Lunch is at nearby Ristorante Fracia, perched among the famous Nino Negri vineyards. On our way home we’ll stop in the very old Ciapponi grocery story in Morbegno and pick up some local specialties to enjoy that evening and the rest of the week. We will return to the villa in time to relax before dinner.

Val Curone (Thursday, May 16)
Lunch at Galbusera Nera
After breakfast our driver will drop us off in the nearby Val Curone where we’ll visit two interesting old farmhouses and walk down the hill to a third for a nice lunch. We will have our final workshop with Austin and Esther, organizing and sharing your photos in one of the farmhouses. We’ll return to the villa in time to relax or continue editing our photos and we’ll begin to narrow down the ten we will share with the group the next evening.

Lake Como – Bellagio, Villa Balbianello (Friday, May 17)
Lunch at Ristorante Silvio

Our driver will take us to Bellagio, where we will have lunch at Ristorante Silvio overlooking Lake Como. From there we’ll walk down the lovely path toward the lake, through the beautiful Giardini Melzi and into Bellagio. Our private taxi boat driver will then deliver us across the lake to visit the grounds of the stunning Villa Balbianello. On return to Bellagio we can explore the town and its shops a bit before heading back to the villa for our grand slideshow of everyone’s favorite ten photos. 🙂 (The photos will be used to produce a photo book from the week and will be mailed to participants within about 30 days).

Saturday, May 18 Departure Day (or optional extra day)
Participants who would like one more day at the villa to relax and enjoy the villa or spend more time on their photos or take the train into Milan for the day are welcome to. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided. Supplement of 200 euros per person.


We very much look forward to having Austin and Esther with us to share their extensive knowledge and help us make the most of the powerful camera we’re carrying in our pockets.

The price (double occupancy, choice of king or twins) includes lodgings at Poggio Verde Country Villa, Italian continental breakfast, all meals, wine and ground transportation. A mid-week room cleaning is also provided.

A non-refundable deposit of 500 euros per person will save your spot; the balance is due 30 days before departure. When you register we will email you an invoice to pay the deposit (converted to dollars). E-mail us if you’re interested and we’ll send you the link to register.

A minimum of seven participants is required for the trip to be confirmed (Payments made toward the trip will be refunded if the trip is cancelled). Travel insurance is required that covers health or cancellation – see the FAQ link below for more information.

Adjustments to the itinerary will be made as needed in response to weather conditions, etc.

Hosted by: Mark and Judith Wencel
iPhone Photography Workshops by: Austin and Esther Mann
Dinners at the villa: 
Mark Wencel

Austin works closely with Apple to showcase the power of the iPhone camera and his iPhone photos have been widely published by National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast and more. His iPhone photos have graced billboards around the globe and you’ve likely seen his images on display in Apple stores.

Esther works throughout the world to help non-profits and social enterprise tell their stories. She has captured iconic imagery for charity, including water, IJM, TOMS, and dozens of other organizations that impact our world for good. More than a photographer, she is a storyteller — capturing not just a portrait but a person’s true essence and what makes him or her shine.  No matter the story or country. She uses the iPhone as a key part of her projects, shooting and sharing compelling images in real time.

Today, Austin and Esther spend most of their time traveling and shooting for clients and now have worked on every continent and in over 100 countries combined.

Mark and Judith

Mark and Judith Wencel first visited Poggio Verde almost 35 years ago when Judith’s sister, Gretchen, married Luigi, whose family has owned the villa for several generations. When Gretchen and Luigi renovated the villa and opened it to guests, Mark and Judith began taking small groups of friends, and their friends, to share this very special place. (The images on this page are from Judith’s iPhone and we look forward to learning from Austin and Esther along with the workshop participants!).

Click here for a few answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the villa and joining a trip (internet, trip insurance, facilities, etc.).

Interested in joining us? Email Judith.