23 Unforgettable Things to Do in Tuscany
Located on Italy’s west coast, Tuscany is one of the most visited regions in the country. In fact, this area, full of rolling hills and picturesque vineyards, is one of the top tourist stops in the world. From beaches and art to mouthwatering cuisine and wine, Tuscany is a dream in every season. Here are 23 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany no matter what time of year you visit.
Mostra del Chianti
This wine festival is one of Tuscany’s best. It’s located in the birthplace of Italy’s best-known wine and lasts for several days in the end of May, beginning of June. It’s a family affair which provides musical performances, street shows, theatre performances, a parade, and reenactments. It’s a celebration of culture and history that brings Italians together. Aside from the parties and parades, visitors will be treated to food samplings and Chianti pairings for the entirety of the festival.
Taking place in May, this event is the ideal experience for wine lovers. The name, in Italian, means ‘open doors,’ and this is the time when wine cellars let the public in. Not all vineyards offer tasting rooms normally, but during Cantine Aperte, they allows visitors to spend time on their properties while trying the wine. It’s a big event that draws in locals and international visitors from around the world. It’s an exclusive way to drink wine and mingle with the locals.
Visit the Gardens
Tuscany is partly known for its gardens. Spring is when the flowers are in bloom and the weather is near perfect for wandering around outside. Visit the Tarot Garden which is a sculpture park created by a French artist who was inspired by the works of Antoni Gaudi. The artworks feature heavy use of mosaics, glass, and colors. You can also visit the Villa Bardini’s Garden which can be found in Florence. It features stunning works of architecture and isn’t that well-known on the tourist trail so you may have plenty of space to roam on your own.
Vineyards in Chianti
Chianti is one of the most famous regions in the world for wine. If you want to truly experience Tuscany, this is a place that you just have to visit. You’ll be able to stroll through rolling vineyards, do tastings, and learn all about the history and process of making this famed beverage. Many visitors choose to stay in luxury B&Bs while visiting Chianti so that they can take their time exploring the region. There are plenty of restaurants, festivals, and natural areas to explore. Some of the top vineyards to visit include: Castello Banfi, Marchesi de Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano, Barone Ricasoli Tenuta San Guido.
Cycling in Tuscany
An unforgettable way to explore Tuscany is by cycling. You’ll be able to travel as fast or slow as you wish while enjoying the fresh air and getting close to the countryside. Try cycling through Pienza and the Val d’Orcia which is a Renaissance city full of beautiful and historic architecture backed by the countryside. You can also bike your way around Montalcino which is home to Brunello wines and fantastic views of the valley. Chianti makes a great cycling destination as its full of lush forests, rolling hills, well-manicured cycling routes, and of course, the famous Chianti wine. And, don’t forget to take your bike to the Apuane Mountains which is a paradise for anyone who loves cycling and incredible mountain scenery.
Forte dei Marmi
Taking place in mid-April, this art event turns this seaside town into one, big exhibition. It usually includes nine contemporary artists and features nine displays in different areas of the town. It’s viewed as a sort of, urban art trail and offers viewing both during the day and in the evening.
Explosion of The Cart
If you happen to be visiting on Easter Sunday, this is an event that you just can’t miss. It takes place in Florence and has been going on for more than 300 years. An elaborate, multi-story cart is pulled by oxen into the main square. While the actual cart is not set aflame, there is an elaborate fireworks show, costumes, music, a parade, and historic rituals. It’s a display that shouldn’t be missed.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Summer is a great time to see the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa. You’ll find that the area is full of tourists taking comical photos, holding the tower up with a finger or on their back. It’s amazing to witness this famous piece of architecture in person, especially when you have the chance to tour the inside. After snapping your own classic photo, take some time to enjoy the sunny day and walk around the small town. There are plenty of pizza shops where you can stop in for lunch.
Tuscany is made up of picturesque scenery and vast expanses of nature. A motorcycle tour is one of the best ways to experience it. You can take a lengthy roadtrip to feel the wind on your face as you look out over the sea. Stop off at wineries to take a break and watch the sunset over the rolling hills before you retire at a quaint B&B for the evening.
Take a Cooking Class
Since Tuscany is known for its food, you’ll want to take a cooking class while visiting. These can be had all over the region so you’ll be sure to find one that is close to where you’re staying. Learn how to make pasta, pizza, and other classic, Italian dishes. Authentic Italian cooking skills are great souvenirs to bring back to your friends and family.
Visiting this park is one of the best ways to experience the natural scenery in Tuscany. It is full of limestone mountains, high peaks, and caves. Outdoor enthusiasts will love to trek around the area and photography buffs will be in awe of postcard-like scenery. It’s a place brimming with exotic birds, and interesting plant life. It’s home to a botanic garden and makes a great place to spend the day in fresh air.
Chianti Sculpture Park
A warm summer day is the perfect time to explore this outdoor sculpture park. This open-air museum is filled with contemporary works of art and the founders actually live nearby. The place was built on passion and love for art and all of the admission proceeds go to keeping up with the maintenance of it. The park is divided into two categories of works, international artists (26 of them) and works that blend with the natural surroundings. The best way to see the sculptures is by wandering around, getting lost, and seeing what you uncover.
Vendemmia Wine Harvest
Mid to late September is when the wine harvest usually take place in the Tuscan countryside. This is the best time to join an agro-tour that allows you to join in on the grape picking. You’ll be able to find many of these tours around Tuscany, many of which are run by wineries or B&Bs. Since wine is such a major part of life in Italy, this is the perfect way to really experience and understand this part of their culture.
White Truffle Festival
Taking place in November, this is one of Tuscany’s largest festivals celebrating white truffles. It’s located in San Miniato and is a chance for visitors to try truffle hunting, taste dishes made with truffles, and take home truffle-based products. It’s a hot spot for journalists, foodies, and chefs to gather and join in the festivities.
Gaiole in Chianti
This town is one of the gems of the Chianti region. With parish churches, luxurious castles, and a fine selection of wines, this town has all of the charm and tastes you could want. This is also the location of Chianti’s largest winery Brolio Castle, where Chianti was first formulated. Walking around this town gives you insights into the power struggle between two prominent families and the fortified town that resulted from their feud.
Located in the province of Pisa, this small town is the one of the best displays of Italian countryside. It’s only a few kilometers from the sea and is made up of plains and rolling hills. The fall harvest is a great time to visit because there will be plenty of fresh produce and delicious menus available around the area. Stroll through the historic streets and stop off for a glass or two of wine. The breads and oil as well as the fruit and pasta are top choices in the restaurants. Aside from great food and wine, the town is full of museums and historic architecture too.
Sagra Food Festival
Tuscany is known for its food which is why it’s so important to make it to this massive food festival. These festivals happen all over Tuscany in fall and usually feature local vendors offering their produce and snacks. The events also feature special menus, tastings, demonstrations, and competitions. There are hundreds of these festivals going on during fall and most of them will be filled with locals. However, there are a few that have gained international recognition. There’s the Sagra della Castagna in Soriano nel Cimino, Lazio which is known for its jousts, beef stew, and roasted chestnuts. Bitto in Centro, Morbegno in Lombardy, and Bacco nelle Gnostre in Noci, Puglia are great options as well.
New Florence Opera House
Escape the winter chill by seeing a show in the New Florence Opera House. The building is a work of art within itself, but it also is a destination to experience cultural performances. They are always putting on elaborate performances so make sure to check out what’s going on during your visit.
When the weather in Tuscany cools down, it’s time to warm up in some Florence cafes. A cappuccino or espresso shot make a perfect addition to a winter afternoon exploring this beautiful city. While there are more cafes in Florence than you could visit, try out Ditta Artigianale, Le Vespe, or La Menagere.
Stay out of the cold by exploring some of the world-renowned museums in Florence. You’ll stay warm while gaining a deeper understanding of the culture. Make sure to visit the Uffizi Gallery, Bargello, Palazzo Publico, Palatine Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, and the Museo Galileo.
Wintertime in Tuscany is when the fire festivals take place. They involve torches, bonfires, and candlelight. These festivals have spiritual roots and traditionally take place at the beginning of winter. The festivities are meant to ask for protection against the cold winter months ahead. Tuscany is home to quite a few fire festivals including: Fiaccolata di Santa Fiora, Fiaccolata di Abbadia San Salvatore, and Falò di Sant’Antonio.
Carnival of Viareggio
Taking place in February in the Tuscan city of Viareggio, this is one of the most famous carnival celebrations in Italy and Europe. Everyone is wearing masks, most of the time of famous politicians, sports players, and celebrities. A parade is held down the main avenue and is made up of elaborate floats and rowdy attendees. The event started in the 1800s when a group of local men wanted to protest against paying high taxes.
Carnival of Foiano della Chiana
This is the oldest-running festival in Italy and it takes place throughout January and February. For five Sundays in a row, this festival fills the streets with mascots and festivities. The big celebration can be found in the town of Chiana which is a historic area in Arezzo province. Floats make their way down the streets and Re Giocondo (depicted by a puppet in rags) leads the procession. Once the parade reaches the central square, the puppet is burned as a way to say goodbye to the winter.
Visiting Tuscany in any season will offer incredible experiences. It all depends on what you want to do and which kind of weather you prefer exploring in. From food and wine to culture, museums, and outdoor activities, Tuscany really does have it all. It’s an Italian destination that is sure to win your heart. Get in touch today to start planning your visit!