Tuscany in Winter – 11 Things To Do That Will Make You Glad You Came

It’s true, you probably don’t think of winter when you imagine the ideal time to visit Tuscany and its vineyards, rolling hills, and Renaissance cities. You’ve probably chosen spring, summer, or autumn in your head as the perfect season to visit.

Tuscany’s actually worth a visit in all seasons, for different reasons. While you won’t be able to lounge on Tuscany beaches or cycling in Chianti in short sleeves, there are an incredible amount of activities on offer in the chilly winter months.

Yes, the temperatures are quite cold, and you’ll probably see some rain, but there are less crowds than other seasons and you’ll find lower prices on hotels, flights, and rental cars.

Let’s take a look at the 11 activities I recommend doing during a visit to Tuscany in the winter. Andiamo!

Taste The Recent Press of Tuscan Olive Oil

Man in olive grove is adjusting the nets used to catch the olives on the ground during the harvest.  There are large green nets set up in the olive grove.  The net closest to the camera is full of olives and olive leaves.

We call our olive oil liquid gold, and if you’re in Tuscany in the winter, you’ll have a chance to taste freshly-pressed olive oil.

We usually harvest and press the olives in November. If you’re in Tuscany during the olive oil harvest, you should try to participate or go with someone to watch the olives being pressed at the community frantoio.

It’s a beautiful process to see and sampling the first drops of the oil on crusty Tuscan bread is one of life’s greatest pleasures!

Good To Know: We try the new olive oil on crusty pane toscano (Tuscan bread). This simple but delicious bread and oil combo is called fettunta – a combination of the Italian words fetta (slice) and unta (oily).

Be sure to bring some freshly-pressed oil home, and remember to use it! Olive oil is best when it’s first pressed. It’s not like a fine wine – it doesn’t get better with age.

Visit Museums In Florence Without The Crowds

A full-body photo of Michelangelo's David statue inside the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.

This is your chance to have a heart-to-heart with Michelangelo’s David statue and other precious works of art in Tuscany.

Visit Florence’s Accademia Gallery, the Uffizi Gallery, and more without hordes of other visitors.

If it’s rainy or cold and windy, escape into a museum! If you’re not interested in the traditional art museums, check out:

Or, follow the trail of the Medici family in Florence.

Go Skiing In Abetone

A sunny day with clear skies in Val di Luce ski resort in Abetone, Italy.  You can see ski run with a few skiers on the left and the chairlift in the middle of the photo.  There are a few people in the lower right of the photo near the entrance of the chairlift.  There are trees on the hillsides of both sides of the photo that don't have snow.

You can ski in almost every region in Italy and Tuscany’s best slopes are in Abetone a 1 hour 40 minute drive from Florence. We always head to a part of the area called Val di Luce – about 15 minutes past Abetone.

If you want to spend the night, stay in the Val di Luce Spa Resort. It’s comfortable, has a spa(!), and it’s across the street from the slopes.

We usually make it an easy day trip: Drive up in the morning, play in the snow, have lunch, play a little more, and drive back in the afternoon before evening traffic.

You can ski, snowboard, sled, and hike in the snow. Gear rental is inexpensive and plentiful. Dining options are simple but perfect for filling your belly after a morning in the snow.

Good To Know: You’ll need your own car. After you leave Pistoia, you’re on a winding mountain road.

Soak in One of Tuscany’s Many Hot Springs or Thermal Baths

Saturnia hot springs in winter.  Cascading hot springs surrounded by brown tall grasses and a few treese without leaves.  There is a graphic of a woman in the spring surrounded by stones.

Tuscany has hot springs throughout the region, so wherever you’re staying, there’s bound to be one nearby. There are both free thermal baths and paid thermal spring centers. It’s worth experiencing both if you have a chance. Our favorites are, in order of preference:

  1. Bagno Vignoni – free hot springs and a charming village with spa hotels
  2. Saturnia – free hot springs and an upscale spa resort
  3. San Casciano dei Bagni
  4. Chianciano Terme – 70’s style resort area
  5. Bagno San Filippo – free hot springs immersed in nature

If you are staying in Florence, you can check out the nearby Asmana Wellness Center.

Check Out The Holiday Lights And Christmas Celebrations

Rainbow holiday lights cover the entire Rinascente department store in Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, Italy.

Italians don’t decorate their homes with lights like many other countries do, so if you come expecting to see the region lit up, you’ll be disappointed.

Good To Know: Christmas lights are expensive here! It’s not that Italians aren’t festive – it’s just that it would cost a fortune to decorate your home and yard here.

However, you will find that all cities and even most small towns and villages decorate for the holidays. More and more stores are decorating their windows with holiday displays.

Tuscany also has Christmas markets and villages pop up, although they don’t have quite the same charm as the Christmas markets in Northern Italy.

Some of our favorites include:

  • Florence’s holiday decorations in Piazza della Repubblica and Via Tornabuoni; the F-light displays on famous monuments
  • Montepulciano’s Christmas market
  • Arezzo’s Christmas market and Santa’s Village

Study Italian

Being the home of the ‘true’ Italian language, Tuscany (and especially Florence) is the perfect place to base yourself for a course in the Italian Language. The region is full of language schools that cater to all levels (and ages!) and you can choose to stay in a hotel or even live with an Italian family.

Choosing a winter language course means you’ll be surrounding yourself with more locals than in the other seasons, and you’ll have more opportunities to practice your new skill. Buy your groceries at the fruit and vegetable markets, order coffee at your neighborhood bar, and immerse yourself in the language and culture.

Climb a Tuscan Tower

View of the dome of the Duomo and the city center in Florence, Italy from the top of Giotto's bell tower.

Climbing a tower is always worthwhile for the excellent views and getting a new perspective on the area you’re visiting. In the winter, climbing the stairs will help warm you up! It’s also nice to climb towers without the heat and crowds of the summer. When you get to the top, you may even have the viewing platform to yourself!

Some of the classic towers to climb in Tuscany are:

  • Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, aka the Duomo (Florence)
  • Giotto’s Bell Tower (Florence)
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa)
  • Torre Grossa (San Gimignano)

Not up for climbing a tower? How about a short walk up to stroll along the town walls of Lucca or Monteriggioni?

Taste Tuscan Wines

Red grapes on the vine in a vineyard in Northern Tuscany.  The leaves are bright green and you can see the dry soil on the ground.

Tuscany has some of Italy’s most prestigious wines. Find a table in a cozy wine bar, sample wines during your dinner, or venture out to the wineries themselves. While some wineries are closed up for the winter, others are open for walk-ins or by appointment. Make sure you call ahead to confirm opening days and hours during the quiet winter months.

Tuscan wineries to check out:

WineryTownWine To Taste
Antinori Chianti ClassicoBarginoChianti Classico
Ciacci Piccolomini d’AragonaMontalcinoBrunello di Montalcino
Fattoria Sant’AppianoSant’AppianoVin Santo
Fattoria Poggio AlloroSan GimignanoVernaccia di San Gimignano
Cantine InnocentiMontefollonicoVino Nobile di Montepulciano
Tenuta di CapezzanaCarmignanoCarmignano
Tenuta Campo al MareCastagneto CarducciBolgheri Vermentino

Enoteche (wine bars) worth a visit:

EnotecaTown
Enoteca Pitti Gola e CantinaFlorence
Le Volpi e L’UvaFlorence
Enoteca TognoniCastagneto Carducci
Enoteca La FortezzaMontalcino

See A Concert

Closeup of person playing violin.  You can only see violin and hands and arms.  The person is wearing all black.  There are graphic white music notes coming from the violin on the left.

Winter months are the perfect time to watch an indoor concert. During the holidays, there are small string concerts in many churches in larger cities like Florence, Lucca and Siena. New Year’s Concerts take place throughout the region, even in smaller towns and villages.

International singers and bands usually visit Italy during the summer months, but well-known Italian performers make their way around the peninsula during the winter. Check TicketOne to see who’s playing, when, and where.

Explore The Tuscan Culinary Scene

The dining room at San Gimignano's Michelin-starred LINFA restaurant
San Gimignano’s Michelin-starred LINFA restaurant

Tuscan Food in Winter

Winter months bring hearty Tuscan cooking and belly-warming classics like:

  • ribollita
  • pappa al pomodoro
  • bistecca Fiorentina
  • peposo
  • papardelle al sugo di cinghiale

Cooking Classes and Food Tours

It’s also a perfect time of the year to join a cooking class or food tour and learn more about Tuscan seasonal ingredients and recipes:

Fine Dining Scene in Tuscany

Did you know that Tuscany has 41 Michelin-starred restaurants? The region is home to over 10% of Italy’s Michelin-starred restaurants.

Check out the list of Michelin-starred restaurants in Tuscany.

Go Shopping in Tuscany in the Winter

Scene from I Gigli shopping mall near Florence, Italy.  The view is from the balcony of the upper floor of the mall.  You can see the stores on the upper floor and the escalators and lower level stores.  There are only a few shoppers walking around.  There are large music note decorations hanging from the ceiling.
I Gigli Centro Commerciale (shopping mall)

If you happen to be in Tuscany in January (and part of February), you’re in luck. It’s saldi (sales) time and stores are selling off their fall and winter stock to make way for spring and summer clothing and goods. You’ll want to check out the stores in big cities like Florence and make your way to some of Tuscany’s outlet malls for bigger discounts.

Good To Know – The prices usually go down as the sales period progresses. But, often the best gets sold first. So, if you see something you like, don’t wait – buy it!

Our Favorite Outlets in Tuscany:

Hopefully this list of winter activities in Tuscany has given you a few ideas for your trip to our region in the winter months. Happy planning!

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