Best things to do in Tuscany in the summer
The summertime is fantastic in nearly all Mediterranean countries. However, Italy is a tad more inviting as it combines the perfect warm (beach-perfect) weather with an impressive range of things to do, see, explore, experience, and enjoy. Plus, imposing architecture, rich history, mythology-drenched lands, and gorgeous landscapes, especially in the countryside. One of the most beautiful Italian regions is, of course, Tuscany that brings good old-fashioned fun and lots of folklore besides crystalline waters, cascading hills, green valleys, and a wealth of outdoor activities. Here is an illustrative list of fascinating things that deserve a place on your to-do list! And, no, we won’t list the obvious – sunbathing in any of the pristine beaches of the Tyrrhenian Sea!
Attend a summer concert
The summer months are full of music-related events, including the spectacular San Galgano concerts that take place north of Siena, at the roofless Abbey of San Galgano. Other than that, you can head to the open-air Estate Fiesolana, a Roman theatre in Fiesole, or the Massa Marittima Lirica in Piazza. Other picturesque locations that host concerts in Tuscany are the lake-side area of Torre del Lago Puccini (Puccini Opera Festival), and Lucca (Lucca Summer Festival) that features rock and pop music events in one of its scenic squares.
Welcome to the Summer Solstice
Friday the 21st of June is when the summer solstice starts and is celebrated in various ways across Tuscany. You may visit Observatory Arcerti or the Chianti Observatory for a good look at the enchanting celestial sky or even consider the Stia Planetarium and enjoy shows and interesting talks.
Now, if you are into events related to the starry sky, then do head to the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte or the Duomo in Florence and watch a beam of the sun hitting the zodiac sign that signifies the start of the Summer Solstice.
And, don’t miss the San Lorenzo Night (August 10). According to locals, the tears St. Lawrence sheds on his death anniversary are transformed into stars and fall onto the Earth! A spectacle that dazzles just the same is the Perseid meteor shower that takes place in mid-July and until late-August.
Join a SUP board endeavour
SUP lovers will find this one particularly appealing as the Italian region provides ample options to enjoy stand-up paddleboarding. The most popular place for SUP board adventures is Garfagnana, not far from Lucca. As for those not familiar with the specific sport, this is a fab opportunity to expand their water-sports skills! At Garfagnana, you will find instructors to teach you the basics and also guide you down the Serchio River. Along the way, you will also go by the Devil’s Bridge, a Medieval gravity-defying bridge. According to legend, its builder made a deal with Lucifer to get it done (hence, the name)! Further down the waters of the river lies the Canyon of Cocciniglia, a place that will amaze you with its crystalline waters. Or you can take a different route and explore the equally fascinating Wind Cave.
Hop between 6 islands
The Tuscany coast is adorned with seven charming islands worth visiting in the summer months – each with its own captivating beauty and exotic allure. Once filled with pirates’ treasures, the islands of Gigli, Giannutri, Pianosa, Capraia, and Elba offer sandy shores, cobalt waters, a stunning landscape, and lots of opportunities to savour water-sports and sunbathe.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to stop by the Montecristo island as it is now a Natural Reserve and accessible only by researchers with authorization. You may, however, visit Isola Gorgona island and lay eyes on the only island prison in Europe.
Participate in the Medieval Games
This is a competition that has become an ordinance in Tuscany. Expect cheering crowds, competing “contradas”, flag throwers, buglers, drummers, pageantry, and many more. If you want to join this one, you will need to act fast as tickets are sold like crazy. The event is even televised for local networks, so you can only imagine how popular it really is! The competition features a series of medieval sports, such as horse races, where riders are dressed in medieval garb and race in the following places:
- Around the la Piaza del Campo (the Palio of Siena event)
- Pistoia (the Giostra dell’Orso event)
- Arezzo (the Giostra challenge)
That aside, the Calcio Storico is definitely a must-see event. You will have the chance to see the residents of the entire city of Florence choosing colours and fighting until the late-June!
Treat your palate with local (summer) flavours
You have probably already heard of the delicious popular Italian alternative to ice cream, the gelato! This tasty sweet is the central theme of several walking tours in Florence and other Tuscany cities that enable participants to pamper themselves with different gelato tastes from artisanal gelaterias while viewing scenic spots around the city.
Another signature summer dish of Tuscany is Panzanella, a cold plate that is made with bread, cucumber, basil, onion, olive oils, tomato, and lots of vinegar. A burst of Mediterranean flavours into your mouth! To top this experience, you can opt for a tour that includes sampling Panzanella from a Tuscan farm kitchen!
Or, you could take a cooking class, instead, and learn the basics of Italian cuisine and some signature Italian dishes (i.e., Tuscan roast pork, bruschetta, and pasta). Also, how to find the best ingredients in historic Italian open-air markets. Then, you can return to your exclusive Tuscany villa and prepare a delicious meal for you and your loved ones, practicing what you have been taught! Don’t forget to end such a rewarding day full of excitement with a glass of Tuscan wine.
Other summer activities worth noting:
- Food festivals (aka Sagras)
- The Tuscan nightlife (i.e., have a cocktail at a lively rooftop terrace bar – open till late at night).
- Tour Tuscany with a vintage Fiat 500 (guided tour).
- Wine tasting
- Grape harvest festivities (in September)
- Wine festivals