Starting from the premise that a holiday in Tuscany is always a good idea, you may have reasonable doubts about Tuscany in winter considering the period of low season. After spending a long weekend of January around my loved region few days ago, I made this simple, and hopefully helpful, list of pros and cons of traveling in Tuscany in winter.
Pienza in January
Travel in Tuscany in winter: Pros
- Cheaper rates for accommodation and transportation. During low season you can save a lot of money taking advantage of special offers for hotels and apartments. All European low-cost airlines offer great deals and you could fly to Tuscany with only few Euros.
- No crowd. Being out of the peak season, Tuscany in winter has no crowd. Both little villages and the cities as Florence and Siena, Pisa, or Lucca, are not packed with tourists as in spring and summer. So it will be more enjoyable visiting the main museums and attractions or find a seat at the restaurant. In some small hamlets, as happened to us in Val d’Orcia, you can be the only people walking in the street with the few locals living there.
Florence reflections in December
- Hot springs. You can enjoy a bath into the warm and relaxing hot springs while it’s cold outside, surrounded by wonderful scenery of Val d’Orcia or Maremma. Tuscany is the Italian region with the biggest number of wild hot springs, thermal baths, and luxury wellness centers and resorts.
- Skiing. If you love skiing or snowboarding, you can think about spending a couple of days in one of the ski resort of the Tosco-Emiliano Apennines. Of course, they are not The Dolomites, but they have enough slopes to have fun and are easy to reach from every part of the region.
- Carnival. If you like music, colored floats, and masks, from the end of January until the end of February, visitors can enjoy Carnival festivals in many towns of Tuscany and taste delicious cakes as rice doughnuts or Cenci pastries. The main event and the most famous is the Carnival of Viareggio in Versilia. For five days, the biggest Carnival floats of Europe parade along the seaside promenade, surrounded by thousands of happy locals and tourists dressed up with funny costumes dancing to the rhythm of the music.
Love truck float at the Carnival of Viareggio
Travel in Tuscany in winter: Cons
- The weather. It may be cold or rainy and have some snow up on the hills. Anyway, wearing a warm coat, scarf, gloves, and a hat you can go wherever you want. To have an idea on how is the weather in Tuscany, click here.
- Some museums are closed on Mondays. No matter what if you are in Florence or in a small town, Monday is the day off for important museums. For instance, in Florence Uffizi and the Galleria dell’Accademia are closed. In Cortona, on Monday morning both the Museum of Etruscan Academy (MAEC) and the Diocesan Museum are closed.
- Some attractions may be closed. For example in Pienza, the famous Palazzo Piccolomini this year is closed until March. In Montepulciano it is not allowed, until March, to climb the tower of the Palazzo del Comune that I am sure worth for the view on the town and Val d’Orcia. Still, in Montepulciano, the wonderful Renaissance temple of San Biagio is open only during the weekend for security reasons.
The village of Isola Santa in Garfagnana under the snow
- Churches may be closed. Being places of worship in my opinion they should always be open for visitors and pilgrims. Unfortunately, many times they are not. On a Monday morning in Cortona, it happened we could not visit both the Duomo and other two churches because they were closed. It seems that the wish of Pope Francis of keeping churches open all day long has not been enough to convince priests to change this unpleasant situation. Thinking of visiting churches, my suggestion is to do it during the afternoon at the time of the Mess.
- Smaller choice of Restaurants, bars, and shops. Traveling in the countryside or exploring little hamlets, it could be difficult to find a place where eating, especially at lunch. In fact, many activities are closed for holiday, especially after Christmas time, or they are open only during the weekend.
- Smaller choice of accommodations. Especially in the countryside, some Agriturismo or rustic bed & breakfast may be closed during the low season.
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio in Cortona
What about you? If you have got more pros and cons of traveling in Tuscany in winter, leave a comment down here.