The Tuscan summer flair isn’t too far from the familiar charming aura it dons the rest of the year. But the colors are indeed brighter, made even more by the high summer sun, and the commotions are made more exciting, with plenty of activities to look forward to from June to September. Don’t know where to go? Here’s our complete summer guide to enjoying Tuscany in the summer.
Summer arrives in Tuscany on June 21 and bids “addio” on September 23. Summer here can get really hot. And by that, we mean with temperatures reaching as high as 30 °C around July and August. So if you’re in Tuscany for the summer vacation, you might want to reconsider taking a second look at your itinerary and make sure you have plenty of shade and hydration the entire time. At best, it’s recommended to stay out of the city during the hottest months. But if you can’t, try your best to strategically schedule your visits and soirees so that you still get to enjoy what you intend to without the heat ruining the fun.
There are plenty of things to see and do around Tuscany that will easily fill your summertime schedule. But while it may be impossible to see and do them all - at least in one go, the best thing you can do is to be wise in selecting what you choose to do. What follows are our best bets; feel free to make your own list. Listen to friends, ask the locals, or just take this list and go!
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Tuscany is famous for its picture-perfect countryside settings that graze travel magazine covers and desktop screensavers. For many, it’s the very sight of paradise. Such is the vision you can expect upon visiting the Tuscan countryside on a summer’s day. The fields are blanketed in chrome as thousands of wheat stalks bloom. Bales of hay rolled on hillsides signal the season of harvest, and the sunflowers are in their full glory. The grapes in the vineyards are ripe and this beautiful display of colors is such as spectacular treat to the eyes.
You’ll be delighted by the seemingly endless surprise of cultural and and natural wealth offered by the various regions of Tuscany. Chianti itself with its rolling hills and solitary abbeys are the sorts that inspire art. Val d'Orcia near Siena boasts not only a vibrant natural landscape but also proud historical centres. Vallombrosa has enchanting trails perfect for summer hikes. Beautiful Medici villas can be found in Mugello, just a few miles from Florence, and in Lucca, traces of historical Italian families live on in the surviving ancestral homes.
The sights are not the only things you can look forward to in Italian countrysides. Each also has their own share of local festivities which encourages tourists and visitors to immerse into the local cultures.
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Gelato is basically the Italian version of our favorite summertime treat: ice cream. Though there’s no unwritten rule to only eating gelato under sweltering temperatures, summer provides the perfect opportunity to appreciate the creamy and delectable delight of various gelato flavors that most gelaterias in Italy only make exclusive during the season.
But wait. How exactly is gelato different from ice cream? Gelato is made from natural and raw ingredients and contain no coloring or preservatives. Some more commercial shops have altered the process and added in more ingredients to create more flavors. But if you want the authentic savory, hunting for the best gelato shop while in Tuscany could be a quirky adventure to add to your itinerary - or perhaps you’re just too bored or too lazy to go anywhere else.
We’ll adapt this list from Gambero Rosso 2017 guide Gelaterie d'Italia, which inventoried the best gelaterie in Tuscany:
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The exquisite French mountains offer great refuge to cool down in the summertime. If you prefer to keep out of the heat around July or August, you might want to consider getting an accommodation in the countryside or in the mountains. Not only will you get a refreshing retreat but also a fresh perspective of the Tuscan life. Here, you can find an adequate balance between the peace and quiet and a great volume of merriment. That’s because the festivities that occur all over Italy in summer also permeates village life - especially village life. The local concerts and tours, as well as the fairs and shows take you directly into the core of the idyllic Italian life.
When it comes to tourism quality, the best mountain villages in Tuscany includes the medieval village of Cutigliano, the dreamy Isola Santa, the Castiglione di Garfagnana - considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and standing 700 meters above sea level is the Arcidosso. The quiet town of Lucchio is worth a visit if you want near to absolute isolation as the village is slowly being abandoned by its residents.
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Gastronomy has always been one of the best ways to get to know a place. And when in Tuscany, you’re locked in for the best. During summer, the sagras or food festivals are more frequent, with a lot of plenty taking to the streets attending parties, chatting, dancing, and of course, dining.
The Italian food festivals range from small organized affairs to group gatherings. The best thing about these sagras? They are not expensive and the food featured are all authentic Tuscan cooking. In June, visit Bibbieana in Arezzo for La Sagra Delle Sagre, the Du' Pici Sotto Le Stelle in CHainciano Terme, Siena, or the Sagra del Fungo Prugnolo in Firenzuola in Florence. In July, head to the Ranocchiocciola in Massarosa, Lucca, the Il Procenello in Piancastagnaio in Siena, or the Cacciucco e della Zuppa in Riotorto, Livorno. Come August, you have the Sagra del Tartufo in Chiusi della Verna, Arezzo, the Sagra del Moscardino in Talamone, and the Sagra del Crostino in Castiglione d'Orcia in Siena. Don't hesitate to ask the locals for recommendations.
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Wine tastings and tours remain one of the most popular activities to do in Italy, not just in Tuscany. Delving deep into the Tuscan wine country, you will be met with spectacular varieties and flavors that will sure be worth braving the sun. Take the SS 222 road from Florence to Siena where the whole stretch of 69 kilometers are dotted with vineyards and olive groves. Traveling along the Chianti wine road gives you the opportunity to not only sample great wine varieties but also see great architecture.
The Vernaccia wine tour in San Gimignano is one of the most scenic wine routes in the region. So double it up as a road trip and see the spectacular landscapes that are as beautiful as the Tuscan wines in this region are unforgettable.
From Bolgheri to the Val di Cornia, the magical land of the Etruscan coast cradles some sought-after wine varieties including the Ornellaia and Sassicaia. The natural scenery are also a lovely sight to behold, perhaps worth stopping by on the hills to snap a pic along with the sunset.
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From lush Tuscan countrysides, to relaxing mountainscapes, all the way to beach hot spots, Tuscany sure has it all. For those who have time to spare from the city heat, a day or two at the beach is a great way to cool down and replenish. But where to?
If you picture perfect Mediterranean waters, turquoise beaches with great sand, and a view to match, any local will tell you to head south - to the cradle of the Maremma coast. In San Vincenzo and Follonica, you’ll find a long sandy beach. If you want wildlife, visit the Uccellina Nature Reserve. In the southern border of Uccellina Park, you’ll find Talamone, a quaint and lovely fishing village. Reaching the Tuscan tip, you’ll get to Monte Argentario where the calm clear waters are surrounded by the beautiful pine grove. The nearby beaches are exquisite in their own unique ways.
In the northern part of the Island, the best hot spots can be found in Pisa. The Marina di Vecchiano Nature Reserve harbors some of the most exquisite choices.
The Isola d’Elba is worth mentioning here. It’s part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and is a favorite go-to destination among watersports enthusiasts. Here, you can enjoy a day of kayaking, wind surfing, snorkeling, and many more!
Festival Puccini Torre del Lago
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Tuscan locals have another reason to look forward to the summer holidays. Once the long summer nights kick in, parties happen. But what is a summer party without the groove? Hence the bounty of outdoor concerts and musical festivals that accompany nights of dancing, great food, and booze.
One of the most anticipated events in Tuscany’s summer musical calendar is the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lage which features an old world opera performed in an open air venue with an overlooking view of the Massacciuccoli Lake. The open air classical concert at San Galgano Abbey offers an intimate musical experience in the countryside. Meanwhile, the Pistoia Blues Festival and the Lucca Summer Festival are the biggest events showcasing contemporary music.
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Medieval fairs and shows are a staple in the Italian summer scene. These festivals sweeps you back in time and allows you to experience the traditions and lifestyle of old Tuscan life. You will see local folks dressed in customary medieval garbs with shows that reenact historic traditions such as jousting. There are displays of traditional Tuscan cuisine and everybody is invited to participate in fun Medieval games. If you´re up to this sort of fun, you will definitely have a great time.
In July, the Monteriggoioni di Torri si Corona takes place for two consecutive long weekends and is considered one of the most popular events in the Tuscan summer scene. The streets are flooded with locals and many tourists dressed as knights, craftsmen, dancers, and musicians, either performing medieval cosplay or selling medieval merchandise.
If you like archery, the Balestro del Girifalco which takes place two times a year, on the fourth sunday of May and on the 14th of August, will be a sure spectacle to witness. A total of 24 archers compete to receive the coveted golden arrow.
The Middle Ages also takes life on the third and fourth Sundays of August at the Volterra AD 1398 where there will be medieval dinners, guided tours, and medieval tournaments.
Other medieval events in Tuscany worthy of mention includes:
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In the days of old, the islands of Elba, Capraia, Pianosa, Giannutri, and Gigli were dominated by pirates, their dangerous (mis)adventures witnessed by the towering steeps of rocks and forest, lost in the unceasing waves of cobalt. Today, only the landscape remains, populated by a new generation of adventurers - the modern travelers. Those who come here do not come to bury treasures but to find one: the islands themselves.
Go see them for yourself. An island hopping tour is a great way to experience a different side of Tuscany, an atypical break from the medieval soirees and Italian dinners. Here, you can sway solo or hop with a loved one and get you rejuvenated for more nights of dancing and partying.
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Celestial curiosities perhaps never even came to mind while you were plotting you’re Tuscany plans but voila! Here’s one that would probably be the highlight of your vacation - if you’re lucky. If you happen to be in the countryside, stargazing is easier without the ocular implements. Maybe even with a blanket, wrapped around your shoulders while you romantically probe the evening sky for any sign of curious activity.
Meanwhile in the city, the light noise makes the probing difficult and so you need to go to a special place to have some sort of potentially memorable astronomic surprise. Don’t fret. We know exactly just where to go. Tuscany has observatories and planetariums that host shows and talks about stars, to say it simply. The Observatory Arcerti, the Stia Planetarium, and the Observatory in Chianti invites you to an off-world experience, possibly even more so during the popular night of San Lorenzo which is in August 10 when the martyred saint is said to cry tears every anniversary of his death.
The Perseid meteor shower is another celestial event to look forward to which occurs every year between July 17 - August 24.
All these and more are spectacular reasons to why Tuscany would be an amazing summer destination. But before you pack up, make sure you got all the details right. You don’t want to mull over the details when you should be out there doing all the enjoying. And while you’re at it, see to it that you’re at home where you decide to stay in.
This impressive list of Tuscan homes for rent would be a great place to start in. Stay at your own luxury villa or rent your own apartment for a week. ALX’s reputation would leave you with peace of mind knowing you’re not only in a place of comfort but one you can call your own.
Browse through our listings here.