The second coldest month of the year next to January sees little difference in climate with averaging temperatures between 37-55°F (3 C-13°C) across the region and 36-55°F (2 C-12°C) in Florence. Weather along the Tyrrhenian coast will be warmer than inland, seeing a little more rain too, and colder still in hilly regions, like in southern Tuscany, where temperatures hover around freezing. The Apennine mountains will be colder yet and have snow inviting the skiing/snowboarding crowds to their resorts.
Crowds & Costs
The obvious benefit of traveling to Tuscany during February is that crowds are thinner due to the inclement weather. This means significantly lowered prices on airfare and hotels. The exception to this is in any mountainous area with a ski resort, as this time is high season for winter sports. If you are planning on a ski/snowboard holiday during February, remember to book all reservations in advance. February also kicks off spring-related events like Mardi Gras and Carnivale (depending on the Catholic calendar), so be mindful when planning your trip.
It's important to note, too, that many hotels, restaurants, and bars are closed in the coastal towns and islands (though something is always open) and ferries operate on a reduced schedule.
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Where to Go
If you happen to be in Tuscany during Italy’s version of Carnivale (it shifts each year on the liturgical calendar), you’ll find plenty of celebrations with many lasting for weeks on end. You’ll want to venture to Viareggio on the Versilia coast for one of Italy’s most spectacular pre-Lent fêtes. You can expect to see massive floats transporting hundreds of costumed participants and giant papier-mâché caricatures. Besides the parade along the Viali a Mare, the town puts on masked balls, sporting events, and musicals, and restaurants create carnival-themed menus. Alternatively, visit the smaller-scale Foiano della Chiana carnival outside of Arezzo for a taste of one of the oldest carnivals in the country.
If you’re on a romantic holiday (or love chocolate) drive through the Chocolate Valley, an area in Tuscany between the provinces of Pisa, Pistoia, and Prato that features some of Italy’s finest master chocolatiers. Check out Amedei in Pontedera, Slitti in Monsummano Terme, and Pasticceria Mannori in Prato. Alternatively, catch an event like Florence and Chocolate and indulge your senses with mouthwatering creations.
To get between these locales most efficiently, be sure to take the train (or hire a car), as it's far more reliable than other forms of public transport.
What to Do
Not surprisingly, shopping is a big thing in the major cities in Italy. To this end, February represents the end of the country’s annual winter sales period, where you can find great deals at all those fashionable boutiques and retail stores in cities like Florence and Siena. Just look for the signs in store windows that read saldi (sales).
Tuscany might not be known for skiing like its northern Italian counterparts, but the region is home to favorable conditions, milder weather, fewer crowds, and reasonably priced passes. One unique option is hitting the slopes of Monte Amiata in southern Tuscany. Admire the rolling Sienese hills and views over the Maremma to the Tyrrhenian Sea from atop the extinct volcano.
If you don’t ski, there are plenty of other great winter sports to take advantage of while there’s snow on the ground, like sledding, snowshoe trekking (day and night), and ice skating. There’s also the option to Nordic ski in on Monte Amiata through Europe’s largest beechwood forest on the Marsiliana-Macinaie route. If you prefer to stay indoors, cozy up by a crackling fire with a warming cocktail in one of Tuscany’s many ski resorts and enjoy the views over the Apennines.
In need of relaxation? Experience one or two of Tuscany’s many natural hot springs, like the country’s famous Saturnia in the middle of the wild Maremma, Bagni San Filippo at the foot of Monte Amiata, or Bagno Vignoni, in Val d’Orcia to name a few.
Events in February
Carnevale. Held annually 40 days before Easter on the liturgical calendar, Italy’s Carnival celebrations occur sometime between January and April but often fall in February. This is the biggest event of the month by far, with festivities in cities and towns throughout the country.
Brunello Crossing. An annual weekend event of trail running for all abilities in Montalcino, between Val d’Orcia and the Valle dell’Ombrone. The route ascends and descends through woods, ancient pilgrimage routes, and the Sienese hills, and stops at vineyards along the way to sample the latest Rossi di Montalcino. It takes place on the weekend before Benvenuto Brunello (the annual presentation of the newest vintage of Brunello di Montalcino to be released on the market).