July is high season in Tuscany, and with sunny, hot weather, it's a perfect month for getting outdoors to bike, hike, and play in the water. The whole region is waiting to be explored, so take advantage of the fine weather and the slew of festivals that take place throughout the month.

Weather

July is one of Tuscany’s hottest months of the year (next to August), averaging lows of 64°F (18°C) and highs of 88°F (31°C) in Florence and a range of 82-95°F (28-35°C) across the region. The evenings cool slightly to an average of 77°F, though there are plenty of nights where temps hover 86°F (30°C). You’ll want to pack light cotton clothing and plenty of sunscreen in addition to modest church-friendly attire (keeping the shoulders and knees covered).

The hills in the province of Siena and the mountains in the northwest and along the Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna border can expect cooler temperatures and Tuscany as a whole sees the least amount of rain this time of year.

Crowds & Costs

July is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year, as the weather is beach-perfect and the festival and sagre season is in full swing. Most places will be teeming with summer crowds, making a visit to the most famous sites a time-consuming process. To beat the wait at famous locales like the Uffizi Gallery or the Prato in Florence, consider purchasing tickets in advance via the official websites. Another option is to book guided tours, which will allow you to skip the lines as well.

Tuscany’s coastline sees the height of the region’s tourism, as many locals flock to the water on holidays and during the weekends. And with the significant pressure on facilities elsewhere, travelers should be aware that hotels and restaurants book up months ahead of time, so advance planning is recommended. Accommodation will also be costlier—hotel prices in Italy typically spike 100% compared to low-season rates. For alternate accommodations, consider any of these boutique hotel options in Florence.

Where to Go

First, if you're in Italy in early July, you should head to Siena, a Tuscan gem. Located south of Florence, Siena is arguably even more beautiful than Tuscany's capital. You could happily spend hours strolling by the medieval brick buildings and amid the Gothic cathedrals, or simply whiling away the afternoon in a patio café in the expansive Piazza del Campo. And it's on July 2 when the Palio horse race begins and overtakes this central plaza. This elaborate and historic contest involves 10 horses representing various city districts racing around the square to the delight of the throngs of spectators. 

A less-crowded alternative to Siena, or Florence for that matter, is charming Lucca with its historic medieval center of churches, galleries, and Roman ruins—be sure to explore Italy’s most impressive piazza, the Leonardo da Vinci designed circular Piazza Anfiteatro. For more on where to go to avoid the crowds, read this.

What to Do

Even though you’ll have to contend with the hordes of tourists, July’s hot weather grants an all-access pass to enjoy any activity you please. Head to the coast and the Tuscan Archipelago, like Elba Island, for all your water-related sports and activities (snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, and sailing) where the often overlooked Monte Argentario offers terrific beaches and hidden coves. Climb the steps to the white-pebbled Cala del Gesso on the west coast of the peninsula or the family-friendly Cala Piccola. There are plenty more options, though they’re only accessible by a long hike or boat ride.

Another consideration to beat the crowds is to drive the Strada del Vino e dell’Olio (Wine and Olive Oil Route) for a 93-mile ramble along the Etruscan coast, from Livorno to Piombino. It's a great way to take in the full spectrum of Tuscany’s landscapes as well as indulge in a glass or two or three of wine from several family-run cantine (wine cellars).

The festival season is full on come July. Music lovers will appreciate the slew of festivals featuring everything from opera to blues and without preemptive planning, you’ll likely be able to catch a performance of some kind. If you’re in Lucca, find your way to Torre del Lago to take in an opera or Pistoia for international blues acts. Soccer fans may want to get themselves to the Santa Croce square in Florence to join in a medieval game of Florentine soccer known as Calcio Storico Fiorentino. And history buffs might appreciate a visit to Monteriggioni for its medieval fair or Torri si Corona for its medieval traditions re-enacted, like the joust.

Events in July

Palio di Siena. This bare-back horse race is held each year on July 2 (and again on August 16) in the city of Siena, in Tuscany. It involves four days of horse-racing and events in the city square as well as much celebration by the huge audience. 

Puccini Festival. In honor of Tuscan native, Giacomo Puccini, a famous Opera composer, the town of Lucca hosts a series of programs for a month starting in late July in the open-air theater on the Massaciuccoli lakefront.

Lucca Summer Festival. Taking place in Piazza Napoleone, this annual event draws international artists to the stage for one of Tuscany’s most esteemed music events.

Pistoia Blues. The historic heart of Pistoia puts on a series of Blues’ acts, including international performances, drawing in foreign and local tourists alike.

Mercantia. For five days in July, the squares and streets of this medieval town come to life with all kinds of performances, including storytellers, tightrope walkers, acrobats, trapeze artists, bands, and dancers, to name but a few.

Traveling to Tuscany in July? Check out this great itinerary.

Explore Tuscany - 14 Days. Beat the heat and crowds of July with this two-week trip—you'll have the time and local insight to do the highlights of Tuscany right. Start in Florence to see Da Vinci's 'The Annunciation' and other famous Renaissance works in the Uffizi Gallery. Look for treasures in the San Lorenzo market, browse shops on the medieval Ponte Vecchio, and explore history in the medieval cities of Siena and Lucca. End your trip with sweeping ocean views on the Cinque Terre hiking trail.

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