“Beautiful, hot and full of Americans” is how one guest at a summer wedding described Tuscany. Yes, Tuscany in the summer is all it’s cracked up to be, postcard vistas included, but it can be overwhelmingly hot and filled with tourists, so why not explore the idea of visiting in the winter where you’ll find less crowds, but more importantly great hotel prices and more affordable airfares. This time of year can be cool and damp, but it rarely snows and what’s a couple of layers when you’ll be spending most of your time rubbing elbows with the locals, which in my opinion is the best way to travel.
Herewith, a few activities you’ll find in the last months of the year:
Mercatini di Natale – Charming Christmas markets selling everything from hand-crafted goods like toys and decorations to freshly roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate and every kind of sweet local delicacies.
Presepe Vivente – Live re-enactments of the Nativity within the historic city walls. Locals in various cities transform their villages into Bethlehem and play out all aspects of village life at that time.
Fiaccolata – Specific to the town of Santa Fiora, this annual “fire festival” takes place on December 30th and lit torches are carried through the streets and left piled together to burn throughout the night.
Serata Di Colori – Argentario Golf Resort & Spa is a world-class destination for those who like to swing their clubs amidst truly extraordinary surroundings, but it’s as nice this time of year, especially considering their New Year’s Eve gala dinner at the onsite Dama Dama restaurant. Dubbed “The Night of Colors” the nine-course menu offers green ravioli pasta with local spinach and prawns, pink grapefruit and mint sorbet and more from the rest of the rainbow.
Racchette da neve al chiaro di luna – Of all the regions in Italy, Tuscany is one of the most walkable, so why not strap on some snowshoes to leisurely ascend Monte Amiata, the largest lava dome in the area, while bathed in moonlight? Once you reach the top you can grab a hot chocolate or a full meal at one of chalets.
Carnival Parades – In February, you’ll find lively and beautiful parades where different neighborhoods create theme-based floats that process through the historic town centers and compete for title of carrissimo (super float). Each local restaurant serves special food for the occasion.
Sorgenti calde – Throughout the area you’ll find numerous natural hot springs. Many of them belong to spas and hotels, but some are free and with water temperatures ranging from 80-100 Fahrenheit they’re suitable for the chilliest of days.
Read more about Tuscany:
Destination Dispatches: Caprese Living at Castel Monastero
Destination Dispatches: Kneading Florence