Another great month to visit Tuscany, October sees pleasant weather with a few more sunny days being traded in for cloudy, rainy ones. Temperatures across the region run between 52-72°F (11-22°C) and the Tyrrhenian Sea remains relatively warm until mid-October (70°F/21°C). And of course, hilly areas, like in Siena, and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and mountains in the northwest will experience a colder climate than their low-lying and coastal counterparts. You'll want to pack light layers for daytime wear but warmer options and waterproof clothing to guard against any nighttime chills or autumn showers.
Crowds & Costs
Outside the height of peak season, there are significantly fewer crowds to contend with and touring Tuscany’s popular attractions is certainly more peaceful. Though bear in mind, sights may have shorter hours, lunchtime breaks, and fewer activities. Airlines and hotels will have introduced shoulder-season rates that offer significant savings, making October an ideal time to visit if you’re in want of avoiding crowds and looking for a bargain. Typically, hotel costs are around 50% less than in the height of tourist season.
There's the added bonus that many of the region’s famous harvest festivals occur during this month. It's a bit of a double-edged sword, though. While you might not want to miss these food and wine celebrations, they draw plenty of tourists as well as locals. So if you head to the biggest ones, be sure to book accommodation and travel as far in advance as possible.
Where to Go
Most travelers will either start their trip with a few days in Florence before setting out to explore the rest of the country or use Florence as a hub, taking day trips in and around the area. Either way, a popular option to see as much of this small gem of a region on your own schedule is to rent a car. Consider exploring the Tyrrhenian coastline and visiting any number of beaches throughout. And while the weather is cooperative, explore Monte Argentario in the south for its tucked-away coves, beaches, and hiking trails.
Venture north to the Apennine foothills and to the Orecchiella Nature Reserve Park to take in the changing foliage. A common next stop would be to drive through postcard-perfect Lucca as well as to explore the bucolic Siena and Chianti wine regions, before considering a stop in Volterra, San Gimignano, and Arezzo. You'll also want to head to the major attractions, like in Florence, as October is a good time to visit them without the masses of crowds.
Although Florence is never tourist-free, you can count on shorter lines for things like the famous Uffizi Gallery and its impressive collection of Renaissance art, the Pitti Palace, and Galleria dell'Accademia (home to Michelangelo’s David). Museums throughout the region are open 363 days a year, so you'll have plenty of time to fit one or more into your travel itinerary.
If you do decide to travel between cities in various parts of Italy, take the train, because the other public transport options are typically unreliable.
What to Do
Food festivals related to the season can be found in cities and towns throughout Tuscany, making it the perfect time to indulge in Italian delicacies like artisanal olive oils and cheeses, chestnuts, mushrooms, and truffles. One unique way to take in the sweeping vistas to mouthwatering destinations that are hosting special events is to board a seasonal steam engine train.
If you’re in Florence on the weekend, board the train to the small town of Marradi in the Mugello area for their Chestnut Fair. And, if you’re sampling wines in Siena, board the train for a novel ride to Asciano for the Grape Harvest Festival in early October or to Arcidosso and Castel del Piano on Monte Amiata for their respective chestnut festivals. Alternatively, take a form of modern transportation to Caprese Michelangelo, a small hamlet known as the birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti in addition to its seasonal chestnuts.
October is still a good month to get in some hiking and climbing in places like the Apennines and the Apuan Alps. Though if you’re looking for a gentler option, you might consider the Anello del Rinascimento (Renaissance Ring), a 106 mile (170 km) route around Florence divided into 13 stages—ideal for walkers and mountain bikers. There’s also the option to choose one of the 15 routes in the Chianti area. And for some of the region’s best foliage viewing, make your way to eastern Tuscany to join a walking tour in the National Park Foreste Casentinesi.
Events in October
L’Eroica. A popular cycling event held in Gaiole in Chianti sees participants ride on vintage bicycles over gravel roads to honor the former “Giants of the Road.”
Crastatone. The most ancient chestnut festival of Tuscany typically takes place at the end of the month in Piancastagnaio.
Palio dei Caci. On the last Sunday of October, Volterra puts on a fun cheese wheel rolling competition.
Halloween Festival. For a truly otherworldly experience, head to atmospheric Borgo a Mozzano in Lucca to witness ghostly costumes, and horror themed games and attractions.
EuroChocolate Festival. This all-chocolate-all-the-time festival occurs in the second half of October. There are many stands and people come from all over the world to showcase and sell their tasty chocolate goodies.
Traveling to Tuscany in October? Check out this great itinerary.
Explore Tuscany - 9 Days. The only thing that makes Tuscany's highlights more romantic? Seeing it through the lens of fall foliage, with few other travelers to share with. Start in Florence to see Michelangelo's 'David', and see the Tuscan countryside from the top of Pisa's leaning tower. Visit ancient Piazzas in medieval Siena, explore food and wine in the Val d’Orcia, and end in Lucca, where quiet courtyards and the perfect cup of afternoon coffee await.