Understanding the Seasons in Tuscany
Tuscany experiences four distinct seasons. Winter is comparatively mild (though not in the mountains, where snowfall is standard) and quiet in terms of tourism—it's a good time to save some money and beat the crowds. Summer, on the other hand, is hot and crowded, though you can avoid the heat along the coast and in hill towns and mountain villages: either way, you'll want to plan ahead to make sure you have a place to stay.
Spring and fall are shoulder seasons: expect nice weather and moderate crowds. You'll see more visitors around on weekends, when Europeans fly into Tuscany on weekend breaks.
How many days should you spend in Tuscany? Find out here.
Visiting Tuscany in Winter
Winter is generally mild in Tuscany. Expect sunny weather with highs in the upper 50s and lows in the upper 30s through the low 40s. (Note that it's slightly warmer on the coast, and chillier with snowfall in the mountains, ideal for skiing in the Apennines.) It's a rainy time, too: with around 15 days of rain each month, it's best to pack an umbrella and a raincoat. Bring winter gear, too, and layers for dressing both inside and out: Italians keep their homes on the colder side during the winter.
At this time of year, if you choose to rent a car, be aware of ice on winding Tuscan roads and remember that days are short—you'll want to make the most of daylight hours for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Since this is considered an off-season to visit the region, you'll have no trouble booking hotels (and you'll probably spend less, too, as some hotels slash their rates). In small towns and villages, some B&Bs and small guesthouses close for the season, so check ahead before assuming a family-run hotel will be open.
Visiting Tuscany in Spring
Arguably the nicest time to visit Tuscany, spring means blooming wildflowers in Tuscany's fields, vibrant greenery in the mountains, and outdoor cafés crowded with locals and travelers in cities and towns. Expect highs in the upper 70s through the lower 80s, and lows in the 60s: bring a jacket and an umbrella, and don't be surprised by spring showers, but the moderate weather is usually comfortable.
It's warm enough to sit on the beach by the Tyrrhenian Sea—and maybe even warm enough to swim—and a lovely time for hiking and sightseeing. Weekends get busy with tourists, so make your plans ahead of time, but spring is still a shoulder season: you won't pay peak summertime prices or battle too many tour bus crowds at this time of year.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Visiting Tuscany in Summer
Summer is prime time for tourism in Tuscany. Weather-wise, it's not the best time to visit: temperatures soar into the high 90s, and the humidity can be stifling, especially when you're sightseeing surrounded by large crowds.
It's breezier on the coast, though, and cooler in the mountains and Tuscany's famous hill towns: just be sure that you plan everything ahead of time, including flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and tours.
Visiting Tuscany in Fall
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Tuscany. Expect lows in the 50s and highs in the low 70s (with warmer temperatures by the sea and colder weather in hilly and mountainous areas, like Siena and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines). Occasional showers aren't uncommon, but generally, you can expect crisp, sunny weather mixed in with a few cloudy days.
Fall isn't considered a high season for travel to Tuscany, so you'll pay less for hotel rooms and flights, and face fewer crowds at major tourist attractions. Still, as it's a very pleasant time to visit and lots of Europeans come to the area on weekend getaways, be sure to book ahead if you have your heart set on a particular itinerary. Harvest festivals pop up around the region, making fall a particularly appealing time for food and wine enthusiasts to visit.
Events & Festivals in Tuscany
January 6th - Epiphany
Revelry in the main piazze (squares) of Tuscan towns and cities as the Roman Catholic Church celebrates Epiphany. In Florence, look for the Cavalcade of the Wise Men parade through the historic center.
February - Carnavale
Fireworks, flower shows, parades, and masked balls happen during the time period leading up to Ash Wednesday. The largest bash is held in Venice; Viareggio and San Gimignano are also noted for their festivities.
March-April - Easter
The date varies each year, but Easter is a major event in Tuscany. In Florence, don't miss the historic Scoppio del Carro ("Explosion of the Cart") followed by a lively parade.
May - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Starting in late April and running through June, the Florence Maggio Musicale (May Music Festival) brings classical music, opera, ballet, and concerts to the city.
June 16th-17th - Luminaria
More than 70,000 candles illuminate Pisa, followed by fireworks, during this annual light festival.
July & August - Palio di Siena
Siena's famous horse races bring major crowds to the historic Palio racetrack.
First Sunday in September - Giostra del Saracino
Catch some lively jousting in Arezzo during this medieval tournament.
November - Festival of White Truffles
One of many festivals celebrating the harvest in Tuscany, this white truffle celebration in San Miniato is fun for foodies.
December 25th - Christmas
Christmas is a family affair in Italy, but festive decorations and outdoor markets enliven Tuscan towns and cities.
Beating the Crowds During Tuscany's High Season
Summertime is high season in Tuscany. After you see the sights in Florence and Siena, get off the beaten path. Options are plentiful: you could go to the coastal region of Maremma in southern Tuscany, hike in the rugged hills of Monte Argentario, feast on seafood in a fishing village like Porto San Stefano, or visit lesser-known archaeological sites at Città del Tufo.
Conclusion: When is the best time to visit Tuscany?
Tuscany is a world-class destination at any time of the year. (If you can only go in summer, do it. The same goes for the short, cold days of winter.) But thanks to the comfortable weather and reasonably sized crowds, it's hard to beat spring and fall in this part of the world.
Read this Ultimate Guide to Tuscany for more ideas and inspiration for travel in the region.