top of page
  • Joanne Herd

Discovering the Best Time to Visit Tuscany

March 8, 2024

Imagine wandering through a sun-kissed Tuscan vineyard, a glass of Chianti Classico in hand, or meandering through historic piazzas past spectacular Renaissance architecture.

The Tuscany region of central Italy isn't just a destination. It's a feast for the senses and a destination that so many people dream of visiting.

It offers a tapestry of landscapes, from the rolling hills of the Val dOrcia to the terraced towns of Cinque terre.

Cities like Florence and Siena offer a wealth of museums, like Florence's Uffizi Gallery, one of Italy's most popular museums. Outside the cities you'll find the beautiful Tuscan countryside, perfect for a road trip on a sunny day.

But along with the beauty comes the inevitable question. When is the best time to visit Tuscany?

Trying to balance the best Tuscany weather with the fewest crowds is a challenge. It's about finding a sweet spot, with pleasant weather, and avoiding the overcrowding that high season brings to the cities and popular day trip towns like San Gimignano.

Note: In 2023 Tuscany, and Europe overall, experienced a surge of visitors making up for lost time. The normal lines between high season, shoulder season and low season were much more blurred than they have been in the past. As the travel world recalibrates, the normal ebb and flow of seasonal visitors is expected to return, although prices remain higher than they were in 2019.

Understanding Tuscany's seasons: The best time to visit Tuscany

Understanding Tuscany's seasons, both the weather and the traditions central to each season, is key to choosing the best time to visit Tuscany.

Spring (March to May): As the Tuscany countryside awakens with the lengthening days, spring brings gentle warmth and comfortably mild temperatures.

Vineyards begin to come to life, the weather begins to warm, and Holy Week and Easter bring festivals to many towns and cities. In the countryside you'll see wildflowers starting to appear, and calves and lambs in the fields.

Summer (June to August): Summers in Tuscany get very warm, and many locals head for the coast for their annual vacations. It's not unusual for small, family-run businesses to close for a summer month-long vacation as the owners head to the beaches of southern Italy.

If you're looking for the best beaches in Tuscany, summer is when they're open and overflowing with people. The countryside is full of life, with fields of sunflowers.

Al fresco dining under the stars on warm evenings is a nightly ritual, and the cities, with their iconic architecture, can get uncomfortably hot and crowded. The summer months are the height of tourist season.

Autumn (September to November): As the heat of summer subsides, autumn in Tuscany is all about warm days and cool evenings. If I had to pick the best month to visit Tuscany, I'd choose October. Weather is still good, but many of the crowds are gone.

The season is all about the harvest. Vineyards are busy harvesting grapes, and you'll see nets spread under olive trees ready to catch the fruit as it's raked from the branches. Cooler temperatures but long days make the cities pleasant to visit again.

Winter (December to February): The Tuscan winter is fairly mild, but can definitely get cold, especially in the hillier areas. While snow isn't an every season even like it is in northern Italy, you can find a soft blanket of snow falling from time to time.

While the weather can be wetter, there are far fewer visitors so you can access the best places, like the popular museums, without the crowds.

Experiencing Spring in Tuscany

Spring flowers blooming in a field in Tuscany. Hills with vineyards rise in the distance against a bright blue sky.
Spring fields in Tuscany

Spring is one of Tuscany's two “shoulder seasons," when both weather and crowds are moderate. You can expect more rainy days and a cooler temperature than in summer, but it's also not a quiet as the winter low season.

Spring festivals in Tuscany

Italy is full of spring festivals, from birthday celebrations in Rome to the Procession of The Mysteries in Sicily, off the south Italy coast. But Tuscany has more than its share of great festivals.

One famous spring festival, well worth planning a trip around, is the Scoppio del Carro in Florence. Literally translated as “the explosion of the cart,” a wagon pulled by white oxen is driven through the streets, accompanied by musicians and crowds dressed in 15th-century costumes.

The wagon procession ends at the cathedral, between the main doors and the Baptistry of St John, where a wire is connected from the main altar of the Duomo to the cart. A mechanical dove is lit, flies through the cathedral on the wire, and ignites the fireworks outside.

Delights of a Tuscan Summer

A field of summer sunflowers blooming yellow, with hills of grass behind that have turned brown in the Tuscan sun.
Summer sunflowers (girasole)

Summer in Tuscany is full of sun-kissed vineyards, bustling piazzas, and lively beaches. Days are long, full of sun and good weather, and evenings are perfect for leisurely outdoor al fresco dinners.

While summer in the cities is peak season for tourism and can be very crowded, and some of the best things to do are in the smaller towns and countryside. Summer can be the perfect time for an overall Tuscany tour that takes you to less crowded areas off the normal tourist path.

Seasonal resorts and countryside agrotourismos are all open, and many book up months in advance. If you're planning a Tuscany trip in the summer, make sure to plan well in advance.

Summer festivals in Tuscany

Tuscan summers are full of fascinating festivals worth planning a full Tuscany itinerary around. For one of the worlds best-known horse races, head to Siena in June/July and in August for the Palio, run twice each summer.

In Florence, the Piazza Santa Croce is covered in sand for the yearly Calcio Storico. While calcio is also what soccer (or football in Europe) is called, Calcio Storico is a completely different game.

With players dressed in historic costumes, the game is a cross between football and rugby. It can get quite violent, since the players from the city's historic districts are fighting for the honor and valor of their district. The final is always held on June 24, the Feast of St John, who is the patron saint of Florence.

Opera lovers will want to make their way to Lucca for the annual summer Puccini festival in the city where the composer was born. Throughout the summer you'll find performances of his works being held in a specially constructed, outdoor arena.

Peaceful Autumn in Tuscany

A road winding between fields and cyprus trees in Tuscany. The colors of autumn are just starting to apear.
The colors of Tuscany in Autumn

My favorite time to visit Tuscany is Autumn, specifically late September through October. It's when the crowds disperse and the landscape is painted with the soft, warm hues of amber, gold and crimson.

Autumn also marks the beginning of the grape harvest and wine making season. This is the perfect time for a wine tour, where you can observe or participate in the harvest and wine making process.

It's also the best time for fresh olive oil. You haven't tasted olive oil until you've tased a fresh-pressed oil in Tuscany. The grassy, peppery flavor is unlike anything I've had elsewhere, and both the flavor and bright green color fade quickly, making it almos impossible to experience anywhere else.

Truffle lovers will want to spend some time hunting for Tuscany's famous white truffles, which can only be found from September through December. Joining a truffle hunt, led by local experts and their keen-nosed dogs (pigs aren't usually used anymore because they ate too many of the truffles), is a unique adventure through the San Miniato hills and forests.

Fall festivals in Tuscany

At their heart, Tuscany's fall festivals are centered around the harvest and the abundance of the season.

I was surprised how many festivals there are in the fall. There were several days when I lived in Florence that I'd make my way to the center of the city, just to find a parade of costumed locals in procession to a festival.

The most surprising was the time I came across two giant white oxen pulling a wagon with a wine barrel on it. I'm still not sure what festival it was, but it was definitely interesting to watch!

Another fun and unusual festival is the cheese-rolling competition that happens every September in Pienza, the home of pecorino cheese. Representatives from each of the town's six districts roll three wheels of pecorino cheese and a wooden stake in the center of the main piazza. The one that gets the closest wins the glory for their district!

Quiet Winter in Tuscany

Leafless winter vineyards around a stone walled hilltop town in Tuscany.
Leafless vineyards in winter

Tuscany in the winter can be much quieter than other seasons, but there is still plenty to see and do. Two of Italy's main holidays, Christmas and Epiphany (January 6), are highlights of the holiday season.

The days get shorter, vineyards are coated in frost, and crowds are at their lowest during most of the winter. Christmas markets in the towns and cities, with the scents of roasting chestnuts and mulled wine filling the air, and  bountiful seasonal foods and gifts, are delightful.

Winter festivals in Tuscany

Consider celebrating Epiphany, which marks the end of the Christmas season, in Florence. The yearly Cavalcata dei Magi, or Procession of the Magi, makes its way through the streets with the three Magi riding through the streets on horseback, and 700 costumed participants following them.

February is Carnevale season. While the Carnevale in Venice is the most well know, the Tuscany city of Viareggio has the most famous Carnevale celebrations in Tuscany, where you can party the day (and night) away.

Travel tips: The best time to visit Tuscany

While my main recommendation is to avoid the crowds of high season, there really isn't a bad time to visit Tuscany as long as you know what to expect.

If you're planning to travel during the high season, consider a trip through the less touristed areas of southern Tuscany. It can still be busy, but you'll be surrounded by Italians enjoying the long days and warm evenings, giving you an authentic taste of Tuscany the way the Italians experience it.

For the main cities, like Florence and Siena, as well as popular day trip locations and hilltop towns, the shoulder season in spring and fall can be the perfect time to visit.

The bottom line: The best time to visit Tuscany Italy

Tuscany is a timeless destination, and there really isn't a bad time to visit. But if you have the flexibility to choose when you travel, I always recommend late September and early October.

It's my favorite time to experience this beautiful region of Italy.


bottom of page