When is the best time to come to Tuscany?

You may still be toying with the idea of coming to Tuscany, still unsure of when to come and what to expect at different times of the year. If so, hopefull this page will help you choose the time of year that suits you best. 


The Tuscan Spring

The fields are filled with wild flowers, the swallows and house-martins are rushing around looking for places to nest, the air is clear and fresh. The whole of Tuscany is rich and verdant, the trees full of blossom. And the nights are still cool, with the woods alive with fire-flies, so you’ll have no problems with the heat, and there are very few mosquitoes around. Add to that the fact that the numbers of visitors to the region is no where near its peak (no 3-hour queues to get into the Uffizi, quiet roads, no need to book restaurants), and you have several very good reasons to come to Tuscany at this time of year. May is my favourite month of the year, but you can get spectacularly good weather in April too.

Events

There are some very important festivals and events for you to see too:

  • The Pentecost Chianti Wine Fair in Castellina is a lot of fun. Buy a glass (€10) and then you can sample wines from over 70 local Chianti Classico producers, most of which will have several wines to choose from, plus a Vin Santo, plus a grappa!! Runs over 2 days, so pace yourselves. A superb way to try lots of great wine and a must for serious wine buyers. 2010 dates 22nd and 23rd May (provisional).
  • The Slow Food Movement along with local cheese producers holds its annual ‘Rassegna dei Proddotori della Pastorizia della Montagna Pitoise’ on the last weekend of April in Pistoia.
  • Pisa has its cherry festival with delicious treats, music and entertainment from 24th May until 2nd June.
  • Somewhere at the beginning of June you can dine with 500 others in Certaldo where an enormous table is set up in the town square.

Food

March sees the first of this year’s wild asparagus (and we have plenty here at Patrignone…we’ll show you where to look and what to look for). April brings lovely artichokes and, most surprisingly, amazing strawberries (said by locals to help the body throw off winter-accumulated toxins). With Easter, this is also the season for lamb (and you’ve not tasted lamb until you’ve had it here). May brings evening displays of fireflies, and fields of poppies, as well as the first of the spring veg: broad beans, young peas, zucchini, cherries and capers. The weather is quite warm enough to justify trips to the gelateria.

What if it rains?

If you want guaranteed hot sunny weather, then coming in July & August. April and May can be stunning, but there is a always a decent chance of a wet day, the occasional April shower, or storms in May. If it does rain, don't worry - there's plenty to do!

  • Buy and umbrella and carry on as normal. It's only a bit of rain!
  • Go to San Gimignano for a visit, where there are lots of cafés, shops and art galleries to pop into if the weather breaks. Siena is also an excellent place to visit when it's wet, as the main street is lined with all sorts of shops.
  • Go and do a wine-tasting (or two) at one of our favourite local wineries.
  • Spend a day in the big art galleries
  • If you know bad weather is coming, why not book a 1/2 day cookery class, either with us, or with one of a couple of excellent local schools we're happy to recommend
  • Drive 30 minutes in another direction. Weather is often patchy and localised, so look at the sky, decide which direction looks brightest, and head that way. The scenery will always be spectacular, and who knows what interesting places you'll find on the way.
  • Go and sit in a river heated by hot sulphurous spring water. You may smell a bit, but you'll be fantastically warm and the waters have magical therapeutic properties...probably.

Here are some more ideas of things to do when it rains...


The Summer in Tuscany

The summer is when Tuscany’s colours really stand out, the dark green of the cypress trees against the soft sandy browns of the drying grasses and the silvery greens of the olive groves, the rows of bright green vines already hanging with this years hopeful crop, the fields of sunflowers tracking the sun like sun-worshipers.

Yes, it can get pretty hot in the summer, but it is rarely oppressive, and at Patrignone we are high enough in the hills to be 4 or 5 degrees (C) cooler than anywhere else.

And anyway, you have a lovely pool to cool off in, plenty of cool breezy shade in which to lounge in our hammocks and read when you take time off from your sight-seeing. Tuscany is one of the most culturally rich areas of the World, but you will be missing the point and the inspiration for all this art if you don’t spend some time relaxing and taking in the sounds, the scents and the colours of a peaceful afternoon in the country.

Events

There are hundreds of events on in the summer period, but here are our top tips:

  • Il Palio di Siena is one of Tuscany’s most spectacular bi-annual events. It is held on the 2nd July and the 16th August each year in honour of the Virgin Mary and dates back to the Middle Ages. The 5-day event culminates with the final horse race held in the central square, Piazza del Campo, which takes place in the evening. The 10 horses and their riders will tear around the square, many horses losing their riders although this does not effect their eligibility to win…..the only rule is not to interfere with another’s reigns (see a short video here). Anyone who thinks this is event something they put on for tourists is very much mistaken. The locals are incredibly passionate about this event, to the point of fanaticism. It's not unheard of for huge fist-fights to break out afterwards, so tensions always run high. This is a very popular event and you will need to arrive several hours in advance to secure a spot with a view, or else book a place on one of the many balconies (it will cost well in excess of €200). You may fare better if you visit in the proceeding days to see the practice races, usually much calmer affairs. (There are more details in the excellent guide to The Palio di Siena here and another one here.)
  • The Festa di San Giovanni in Florence on 24th June celebrates its patron saint with a hilarious anything goes medieval football match played in Piazza di Santa Croce, followed by fireworks over Piazzale Michelangelo.
  • Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is a music festival held each May and June and has various concerts throughout Florence and includes several Chamber Music concerts which are held in many of the churches.
  • Marcantia is an amazing performing arts festival in Certaldo Alto in July. It's a must see in my opinion. Fantastic fun.

For more local festivals and events when you visit have a look at The Florentine, a really useful listings site in English. 

Food

Well June marks the start of the summer season, and suddenly everyone is eating outside. The t-shirts are out, the sweaters have long been packed away. The fresh vegetables are in full flow, garlic, onions, radicchio, carrots, sage, rosemary, and plenty of wild thyme, wild mint, and wild fennel, all of which find their way into our cooking. Fresh tomatoes are in evidence everywhere, with such strong, fresh flavours that with a splash of olive oil, they make a meal of their own.

July brings mountains of sweet, succulent fresh fruit: nectarines, peaches, melons, and plums are all stunning. Chillies, onions and celery also feature strongly, as well as early summer berries. The barbeques are fired up in earnest, and mouth-watering smell of fresh salsiccia and Fiorentina steak roasting over charcoal is enough to drive you nuts.

August is the month when absolutely everything is available in plenty, including the heat. You’ll be glad you are sleeping high up in the hills with your windows open to let in the cool night air. Definitely a month for light fresh salads, filled with a dozen different kinds of fresh green leaves and ripe tomatoes, with a hint of chilli to help cool you down. And lots and lots of ice-cream!

September brings cooler days, amazing light, and stunning sunsets. It also brings super-sweet figs and grapes, pomegranates, fennel and the first of the wild mushrooms.


The Tuscan Autumn

Autumn brings back the cooler evenings and the most incredible sunsets. Tuscany becomes a hive of activity as all the local producers begin to harvest their grape and olive crops and festivals take place throughout the Chianti region with open doors everywhere, allowing you to sample this years wine and oil. Very traditional methods are still used by many producers, including ourselves, and you are more than welcome to ‘comb’ a tree or two if you fancy, or join us at the Frantoio to see how our olives are pressed. Olive oil is at its best immediately after pressing and if you around at this time we can promise you will never have tasted oil quite like it. If the rains come it is only for a day or two at a time and with the weather still mild through September and October you can expect mushrooms to be sprouting.

Events

Autumn also brings The Euro Chocolate Festival to Umbria’s capital, Perugia. It is an hour and a half’s drive from here but well worth the trip at any time, particularly from mid to late October when the week long festival is held. This beautiful medieval city is packed with stands with more varieties of chocolate than you can imagine. Good shopping here too.

Vino al Vino is a wine festival held on the third weekend in September in Panzano. Wine from the local wineries will be available to taste. Just buy a glass (around €10) and off you go! There is sometimes music and food available too. Lots of fun.

The Chianti Grape Festival or Festa dell’Uva is usually on the last Sunday in September is a spectacular event with plenty of tastings, a big parade, and other entertainment. Lots of people but plenty of atmosphere.

Every other year Florence holds the Internationale Antiquariato (a major antiques fair), usually at Palazzo Corsini in September/October…

Food

The autumn is dominated by game: wild boar, rabbit, hare, and venison can all be bought from butchers throughout the region. And wild mushrooms abound: local markets will be full of porcini mushrooms at this time, as well as rarer delights. The woods around Patrignone are filled with the scent of these edible fungi, but make sure you know what you are doing before you go looking for something to eat.


Winter

With a bit of luck the Winter will bring snow (so we can go skiing at Abetone) and sharp frosts, and again the spectacular Tuscan countryside dons another breathtaking guise. It does get cold, sometimes very cold, but the sun shines out of a deep blue sky, the streets are quiet, the birds are all passing through and wild boar do their best to hide from the hunters. It is a great time of year to walk and explore without the crowds; just pack your thermals just in case.

December is a great time for your Christmas shopping with a German market in Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence as well as Christmas markets in Scandicci and Tavernelle to name but a few.

More chocolate can be sampled at Monsummano's Cioccolisit Festival held on the last weekend of January.

For more local festivals and events when you visit have a look at The Florentine, a really useful listings site in English.

Patrignone is usually shut from 1st November to 1st April, but we will consider bookings for larger parties at this time. Drop us a line and let us know what you have in mind.

We looked for somewhere special, and found it here in Patrignone. We will always remember this place.

Sawday's Special Places to Stay. Platinum Green Leaders Award TripAdvisor 2014 Winner TripAdvisor Hall of Fame 2015