Best time to visit Tuscany

Best time to visit Tuscany


Tuscany always exceeds expectations but in the summer you’ll likely share it with coach loads of tourists in stifling conditions. Getting away from the cities and onto rural trails reveals the warmth without the crowds, and visiting outside of the summer offers a true taste of la dolce vita. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Tuscany, especially for cyclists and walkers, as there are milder temps and fewer crowds, plus a cornucopia of colour covering the hillsides. Winters are cold, especially on farmhouse floors, and offer a darker accompaniment to romantic rural images.

Things to do in Tuscany


Things to do in Tuscany

Go agriturismo! Staying on an agriturismo property in Tuscany is all about strolling around farm land and eagerly awaiting the call from an open kitchen doorway or the allotted chef cooking Tuscan sausages on the barbecue. Many working farms include swimming pools and a choice of self catering or full board accommodation and if you’re longing to immerse yourself in the rural lifestyles and landscapes of Tuscany there really is no better option.
Don your Lycra. If you thought the Wiggins effect was a new thing then you’ve obviously never been to Tuscany as these guys have been in the saddle since Michelangelo was a lad. UK cyclists will want to prepare themselves for a real challenge as some of the inclines may be gradual but they tend to go on forever, with the Strade Bianche route from San Gimignano to Siena, certainly no exception.
Bring your walking boots. The great thing about Tuscany is you can explore all year round with numerous hillsides from where to settle down for an impromptu pot of olives or drop of Chianti. Steeped fields bedecked in sunflowers and plump grapes on the vine make for a delicious accompaniment to any stroll and going on an organised walking tour allows you to combine the relaxation of the countryside with the cultural history of medieval cobbled streets.

Things not to do in Tuscany

Squeeze too much in. Lucca, Florence, Sienna, Pisa, San Gimi-watsit… Arrghhh! Sometimes what was meant to be a quiet and stress free break in Tuscany can turn into more of a nightmare, especially if you’re visiting for a week or less. Best advice is not to fill every day with a different ‘must see’ city or town. Give yourself some space to laze by the pool or just linger a little longer over an alfresco meal. Those medieval scenes have been there a while – and you know what? They’ll still be there next time you visit.
Be scared of driving. Yes, Italy has something of a reputation for ‘fearless’ drivers and yes, the roads in Tuscany are notorious twisty turny, but please don’t let this put you off exploring the region in more depth. Ditch that wide wheeled Chelsea Tractor and join the cool club with a cheeky Cinquecento that may take a little longer but will certainly help you negotiate narrow tracks as well as hugging those hairpin bends with a touch more confidence.
Forget your phrase book. Friends of mine once drove to Tuscany from the UK and stopped off en-route for what they thought was going to be a large white coffee. ‘Caldo?’ the barman asked. It was the summer so they all agreed that the colder the better would be just fine. Three pints of warm milk later and they were back on the road. Try to learn some Italian before you visit Tuscany, it’s good fun and might well keep you awake past Pisa.

Tuscany travel advice


Carolina Ingrassia, from our supplier Find Your Italy, shares her tips and advice on living and traveling in Tuscany:

Where to go

“Just outside of Sienna there are some woods with thermal springs and waterfalls that not many tourists know about. The place is called Bagni San Filippo and although you’ll need a car to reach the area, it makes for a great place to cool off after a hot day in the city.”
“Another place I like to go to that’s relatively close to Siena, about 40km away, is Montalcino, a small hillside town that’s known locally for its wine cellars. Then, if you’re able to drive about an hour to the east you’ll find the medieval town of Montepulciano that’s also famous for its wine with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano considered one of the best in Italy."

Getting around Tuscany

“The best way to see Tuscany is by hiring a car and going to the small villages that not many tourists go to. Tuscany’s coastline is also really great with seaside towns like San Vincenzo, Populonia (great Etruscan ruins), Porto Santo Stefano and Orbetello combining cultural sites with days spent by the sea. Baratti beach is probably one of the best with the pine forests and sandy beaches of Maremma, the peninsula of Argentario and the islands of Giglio and Elba, also not to be missed.”

Foodie advice

“If you’re looking to try some typical Tuscan food while on vacation then you have to try pecorino cheese, prosciutto crudo (baked ham) and bean soup if you’re in the countryside. But if you’re on the coast then cacciucco is a delicious seafood stew and is the specialty of Livorno. Drinks you have to try are ponce alla livornese, vin santo (dessert wine) and ammazzacaffè which literally means ‘coffee killer’. It’s a liqueur that’s traditionally drunk after the coffee course to ‘kill’ the effect of the caffeine.”

Tuscany travel advice


“If a week of gentle 'time out', fresh mountain air, great food and stunning scenery is what you need, head to Lavacchio! It is a very special place made even more so by generous, caring hosts.” – Annette Vieusseux

“If you want more freedom to travel, then do get a car but be aware places like Siena, San Gimignano and Florence are a challenge to find parking and may have restrictions for cars.” Smita Shah

“You’ll need a smallish car with some power to get up the steep slope when fully laden! First time up is slightly nerve wracking, but the views are worth it!” Neale Jackson

“Just hang around a town between about 5 and 7 pm. Italians seem to come out at that hour just to catch up with their friends and get a bit of cooler air. They were so gentle and polite with one another it was a pleasure to share the space.”Judy Powell

“Extend your vacation with a few extra days in Lucca and the environs. This is a very sweet city and deserves time exploring the charming narrow streets on foot or on bicycle with a chance to attend a concert in the evening or just sit in a cafe and people watch.” Philly Thackrah

“I stayed for two nights in Lucca before and one night in Pisa afterwards – it made a perfect start and finish to a wonderful walking vacation.” Paul Tranter

“We rented a car in the Tuscany area and enjoyed every minute of our travels – most people discouraged us from driving – I found it enjoyable and not as scary as people led us to believe. It allowed us to see more sites from the farm – otherwise we would have felt more isolated.”Marcia Brenta

“Go during truffle hunting season. Don't miss the mornings in the Tuscan hills.”Gay Hornak
Photo credits: [Tuscan countryside: Francesco Carrani] [Tuscan wine: Bruno Cordioli] [Tuscan beach: Visit Tuscany] [Tuscan food: Adolfo Monti] [David: Dennis Hill] [Bikes: Shever]

Written by: Chris Owen
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