Tuscany's first month of the year is also its coldest. But with the chilly weather comes fun snow activities, the start of carnivale season, fewer crowds, and lower costs than other times of the year. The snow and ice add an additional enchanting quality to already captivating attractions like Casentino National Park, the Apennines, and the Garfagnana mountains. Find out what to do and where to go with this January guide.

Weather

Without a doubt, January in Tuscany will be it’s coldest with average temperatures across the region ranging between 37-52°F (3-11°C). And while Tuscany as a whole experiences mild, relatively sunny weather with about eight days of rain, the area has varying climates. Along the coast and in lowland areas (think Pisa, Livorno, Cecina, and Grosseto), the weather is characterized as Mediterranean so you can expect it to be mild and rainy in the winter.

Florence, on the other hand, is transitional: its winters too cold to be considered Mediterranean. Expect daily averages of 43°F (6°C) with nighttime temperatures at times hovering freezing especially if the Tramontana northerly winds are blowing, and snow can be seen, though rare. Tuscany’s hilly regions, like in Siena, experience mild weather as well, though anything above 1,000 feet will be cold. And of course, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines in the east of the region will be colder still with enough snow to entice skiers/snowboarders to their slopes.

Crowds & Costs

Travelers who visit Tuscany after the Christmas festivities have come to an end (by January 6) will be rewarded with relative peaceful environs and budget-friendly hotel stays. The Tyrrhenian coast remains quiet, hotels reduce their rates if they aren’t altogether closed (many businesses that rely on the beach close for the season), and ferries scale down their routes and travel times to and from Elba. Ski season is in full swing, vacationers heading to the slopes, though unlike other more popular Italian destinations, Tuscan resorts are uncrowded and less costly.

As a lot of fashion events take place in Florence in January, you’ll want to book your hotel in advance and make necessary restaurant reservations ahead of time to beat the influx of fashion-forward visitors (see events below). And with any national holiday, like Epiphany on January 6, you can expect restaurants being booked solid and nationwide closures where transportation services are operating on a reduced festivi schedule.

Where to Go

At the start of the month, you can catch the tail end of the Christmas festivities. An excellent place to start is the capital of the region, Florence, for a taste of culture: art galleries and museums, striking renaissance architecture, and top-notch restaurants. More than that, however, are the Christmas markets and concerts leading up to the Epiphany. For a spectacular show, head to Palazzo Pitti, Piazza della Signora, or Piazza del Duomo to witness the colorful Procession of the Magi and a cavalcade of 500 costumed participants.

Alternatively, most towns and cities across the country host their own Christmas markets, bonfires, and La Befana and Epiphany celebrations (see events below). Consider visiting San Piero a Sieve or Monte Amiata for their festivities and bonfires in celebration of this holy day.

Skiing and snowboarding fans that find themselves in Tuscany will be happy to know the area offers plenty of runs from Abetone in the Apennine mountains, to Monte Amiata in the south. There are also several smaller ski resorts in northern Tuscany, like Garfagnana and Zum Zeri in Lunigiana. Though not in Tuscany directly, ski resorts Monte Cimone and Cerrato Laghi, lie on the Tuscan-Emiliano Apennines border.

What to Do

After the Christmas season has come to a close, enjoy a quiet month of cultural exploration. Rent a car or ride the train through Tuscany for optimal sightseeing and if the weather turns unfavorable, head indoors to take in any number of museums and art galleries, from Florence and Siena to Grosseto and Pisa. The fact there are lighter crowds during this time means you can enjoy the various artworks and artifacts on a more personal level. And museums in Italy are open 363 days of the year. 

Though skiing is the name of the game in January, there are plenty of other great winter sports to take advantage of while there’s snow on the ground, like sledding, snowshoeing, and ice skating. There’s also the option to go snow tubing at Monte Amiata and Doganaccia di Cutigliano—fun for the whole family. Plus, these smaller resorts offer a more authentic Italian experience, you’ll share ski lifts with Italians, have access to lesser-known Tuscan dishes, and be close to quaint medieval villages for post-skiing discovery. 

Photographers and nature enthusiasts will love Casentino National Park in January, transformed by the snow and ice, adding a magical quality to the landscape. And foodies will have a much better chance of making a reservation at any of Tuscany’s top restaurants in popular cities like Florence, Siena, Lucca, and Pisa. 

If you’ve come to Tuscany for fashion, you’ll want to head to Florence for the international Pitti Immagine event. And of course, if you love shopping, you can take advantage of Italy’s winter shopping seasons. January sales or saldi mark one such period, so look for the signs in the windows of stores and boutiques and snag a deal or two or three.

Events in January

Pitti Immagine. An international annual fashion event held at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence every year since 1954 showcases clothing and fabric in four events: men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, and Pitti Filati catering to knitters.

Epiphany. The Italian Christmas season is similar to that of other western nations in many ways (including celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), but one event in which it differs, is La Festa dell’Epifania. Held on January 6 and marking the end of Italy's "12 days of Christmas." children across the country get excited as this is when an old witch called La Befana leaves gifts in their stockings. During the day children dress up like Befana and ‘trick or treat’, and groups of singers go door-to-door singing.

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