March’s weather is described as pazzerello (somewhat crazy): it could be winter, it could be spring. Typically, it begins to warm up with temperatures ranging between 43-61°F (6-16°C), though the days see their share of rain and the Tyrrhenian Sea is not yet warm enough for a dip (57°F/14°C). The coastal towns, cities and low lying regions see milder and rainier weather, while in and around Florence sees a more transitional climate: slightly colder with variable weather from rain and wind to bright and sunny skies. Be sure to pack your sunglasses alongside your layers, raincoat, and umbrella.
Given the diversity of the area, there’s still plenty of snow on the ground in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines to the east and north of the region and the Garfagnana range to the northwest, particularly at the beginning of the month.
Crowds & Costs
Considered midseason, March acts as a bridge between winter and spring in Tuscany, making this a great time to explore the region and top cultural attractions without the hordes of tourists you can expect in the summer months. Ferries to the Tuscan Archipelago will have reduced routes, and many hotels and restaurants along the coast will be closed, yet you can expect cheaper fares on flights and hotels (typically 50% less expensive than in the high season and sometimes more), with the exception being the ski resorts.
That said, peak ski season is drawing to a close, so you should at a minimum find greater availability for lodging options at resorts, like Abetone ValdiLuce in the Apennines or Monte Amiata in southern Tuscany, and the smaller resorts in Lugiana.
Note that if Easter falls in March you’ll be competing with locals vacationing, so expect a slight surge in airfare and hotels and make sure to plan accordingly.
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Where to Go
Most travelers visiting Tuscany will start or end their holiday in Florence, the capital, for a little cultural exploration: great restaurants, historic neighborhoods chock-full of architectural treats, and plenty of venues offering artistic performances, dance, music, and theater. Florence is also a great jumping off point for nearby ski slopes still seeing action in the mountains north of the city, like Abetone in the Apennines. Alternatively, there’s Monte Amiata in the south and the shorter runs of Due Santi and Zum Zeri along the Garfagnana and Lunigiana chain.
Partygoers will be happy to know much of the region’s best festivals occur this month and center around Lent in the run-up to Easter (depending on the liturgical calendar). Head to Viareggio on the Versilia coast for cavalcades of costumed participants, musicians, actors, and massive floats or the small village of Torrita di Siena for their Palio dei Somari donkey race, processions and sbandieratori (flag tossers), and drummers. It’s also an idea to visit the medieval cathedral in Pisa as they welcome in their historic new year with a beam of light and a marble egg followed by their share of costumed pageantry and parades.
What to Do
If you eschew a skiing/snowboarding holiday, you can still enjoy many of the major highlights of Tuscany without the sizeable crowds. This includes shorter lines for admission into the world-famous (leaning) campanile tower in Pisa, the Casa del Vasari in Arezzo, the patterned white, green, and red marbled Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Siena, and the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
March kicks off sagra season, and a great way to mitigate unpredictable weather is to rent a car and embark on a culinary tour, stopping to sample local delicacies at any number of the spring sagre throughout the region. Try the Fritelle Festival in Montefioralle for sweet fried rice cakes or visit Montespertoli in Chianti for their food-and-wine Mostra del Chianti event or Sagra delle Frattaglie to sample classic fare of lampredotto, trippa, and stufato. Another option is to check out Mugello’s Sagra del Cinghiale and Tortello for a taste of wild boar and handmade stuffed pasta.
And while you’re tasting regional specialties, why not try your literal hand at crafting some of them on your own? Read Best Culinary Experiences in Italy for some ideas.
Events in March
Carnavale. Italy's version of the Carnival celebration of Lent changes months depending on the liturgical calendar but occasionally occurs in March. It is the biggest event in the country, with parades and parties in cities and towns throughout the country, some of which last for weeks.
Festa Donna Nella (International Women's Day). Italy celebrates women's day on March 8th, as men across the country gift mimosa flowers to the nation's women.
Saint Joseph's Feast Day. Italy's answer to Father's Day falls on the 19th of March and children give gifts to their dads to celebrate the occasion.
Capodanno Pisano. A five-day event centering around March 25 in Pisa. Up until 1749, Pisa had its own calendar denoting March 25 to be the day of the Annunciation (in Catholic tradition when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary she would become the mother of Jesus Christ). Expect parades, costumed reenactments, and medieval dinners,