There are many advantages to visiting Tuscany in Winter. Even though the days are short and the weather can get a little chilly, not having to constantly battle crowds of tourists has its perks. Parking spaces, accommodations, and food also no longer suffer from the same inflated prices of the high season.
Here are some ideas of fun things to do to get out of the cold or even to enjoy a little snow.
The highest mountains in Tuscany are the Apennines. If you get lucky with the weather, you might even get some snow on the Abetone ski resort slopes. This little mountain village rests at 1000 meters above sea level and has a completely different feel from Tuscan hill towns. If you feel like taking a day off from the sightseeing, Abetone is about a 1.50 drive from Florence.
Relax in a Hot Spring
There is nothing quite like warming up in a natural hot pool in the dead of winter. Tuscany is dotted with natural hot springs especially more towards the South. For nature lovers and brave souls ready to face the outdoor cold, there are springs in the great outdoors. The obvious disadvantages are a lack of showers and other creature comforts. On the other hand, there are also many high-end spas that use the same thermal waters but also provide many other services.
Dig into Hearty Tuscan Dishes
Tuscan food is extremely seasonal. During the cold season, Tuscan dishes are particularly hearty and tasty. Enjoy warm soups like ribollita, a peasant dish that combines soaked stale bread, winter vegetables, and beans. Meat dishes and sauces are also great favorites during the winter months. Tuscans would agree that there is nothing better to do at that time of year than spend some hours in a warm and inviting place while you discover the local cuisine.
The mere thought of standing in line under the hot Tuscan sun to visit a long list of incredible museums such as the Gallerie dell’Accademia is daunting. There are now ways to speed the process up by buying tickets online (usually for an added cost). During the low season though, the crush of tourists lessens to a much more manageable flow and visiting a city, its beautiful landmarks and museums becomes a pleasant experience once again. Escape the cold weather by seeking out the culture Florence and Tuscany are so proud of.
Buy Italian Fashion during the Winter Sales
If you are a fan of Italian fashion and plan to dedicate part of your holiday to shopping, why not time your visit to Tuscany for the beginning of the Winter sales? At the end of the first week of January, shops start providing discounted deals. Enjoy exploring Tuscan towns and cities as you hunt down the best bargains. Tuscany also has two big outlets that showcase some of the most high-end and fashionable Italian brands and offer added discounts during the sales.
A Quick Word of Warning
During the low season, many highly touristic areas (particularly seaside towns and small villages) slow down or come to a complete standstill. Even big towns like Florence or Siena change their timetables to accommodate the shorter days. A general rule of thumb is to spend weekdays in bigger places and weekends in smaller towns where restaurants and other services might only be open to cater to Italians during their days off. To avoid any unexpected surprises, planning ahead of time, and checking opening times is essential. If you would like to enjoy a great trip to Tuscany in Winter, but would rather not spend hours organizing it, why not rely on the services of a tour guide?