- Photo Essays
I adore Italy – it is one of my favourite countries.
I’ve travelled to Italy three times but I had never visited Umbria and this begs the question….uh, why?
The reason I was in Umbria recently was to attend the Travel Bloggers Unite conference. Travel writers/photographers and travel industry representatives from all over the world met to attend workshops and presentations, and to liaise with others involved in this new world of professional ‘travel blogging’.
Coincidence? No, not at all. Well, no one in is going to hold a travel conference in an ugly place now are they?
The conference week was a whirlwind of inspiring guest speakers, professional networking and new friendships, culminating with a series of three-day post-conference trips sponsored by the Umbria Tourist Board.
While I am not new to travel and photography, the move into travel blogging and online publishing is a relatively recent one. I learned a great deal at TBU and came away feeling inspired and motivated to pursue this ‘thing’ I started as a way of channeling my two great passions: travel and photography.
I was particularly motivated by a workshop hosted by the fabulous Deb and Dave from The Planet D, and a dynamic keynote address by the lovely Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads. These guys sure know how to woo a crowd and it was a pleasure to meet them, and loads of other inspiring people, in person.
The 200 or so delegates attending the conference were hosted at the Hotel Valle del Assisi who surprised us all with a special welcome gift: the opportunity to take a scenic helicopter ride over Umbria.
Actually, it was my first time flying in a helicopter and given my aversion to confined spaces and a tendency towards motion sickness, I wasn’t sure how I would manage.
Lucky for me (ha, and the other two people in the chopper!), Umbria is rather beautiful…and the view from the air wasn’t too bad either, which served as an excellent distraction.
This warm welcome to Umbria carried through into the evening with a traditional flag throwing ceremony in our honour followed by a lavish dinner, which turned out to be only the beginning of week-long indulgence in amazing food and wine.
There were many high points to the conference weekend, but one of most exciting events for me was one particular guest speaker who took time out from his busy schedule to talk to us.
Photographer, Steve McCurry has long been one of my great inspirations. I especially love his photographs from South East Asia but his travel photography in general, and his portraits in particular, are some of the best you will ever see.
Oh, and National Geographic just happens to agree with me
(If you are not familiar with Steve McCurry’s work, you may remember the iconic image of the ‘Afghan girl’ that appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.)
It was such a pleasure to hear him speak so humbly and passionately about his career and his love for photography.
Spending a week with so many people who are passionate about travel was incredibly fulfilling. If there is one thing most travel bloggers have in common (besides an obvious love for travel) it’s they’re enthusiasm.
I think it’s safe to say that after our week in Umbria we all left on a bit of a high. And for me, it has only reaffirmed my love for Italy.
The next TBU conference will be held in Porto, Portugal in September and looks to be a great line up. If you are interested in attending check out the official website of the conference and sign up!
Thanks so much to Travel Bloggers Unite, the Hotel Valle del Assisi and the Umbria Tourist Board for making this trip to Umbria possible!