Best Winter Activities in Tuscany – How to have a GREAT Time!
The beautiful Tuscany landscapes and the everlasting charms of the regions invite you to explore this blessed Italian land year-round. Unlike most tourist areas that attract primarily with summer-related activities, Tuscany can become your home base for numerous winter explorations and adventures as well. With fewer crowds and flashy seasonal colours, Tuscany is the perfect hideout offering an impressive range of things to do. Here is a small list!
Glide down the slopes
Abetone is just a breath away from Florence (around 60-90 minutes by car, near Pistoia town) and provides exceptional opportunities to ski and enjoy the great (snowy) outdoors. Here, you will find slopes for all levels, up-to-date lifts, and lots of shops with ski equipment to rent. Although not as impressive heights as the Swiss Alps, the 50km of ski slopes at Abetone are inviting (and enticing) enough to make the trip. So, simply choose any of the Blue, Red, or Black Diamond runs and slide down nearly 2,000 meters! On top of that, you can opt for cost-effective ski and snowboarding lessons while gazing at the lofty white peaks of the popular ski area.
As for those in the Val d’Orcia area (a bit southern in the Tuscany region), the Monte Amiata is ideal for some great snowshoe hiking and skiing endeavours. With slopes for all levels, you can test your skiing skills on at least 10km of ski runs overall. Although definitely on a smaller scale than Abetone, Monte Amiata still enables visitors to enjoy fun things like trips on snowmobiles, hiking on the snow, and cross-country skiing.
Shop during the January sales
The “Saldi” (winter sales) season begins in January and lasts till March, giving you 60 days full of sliced prices. The Winter Sales is a big thing in Tuscany, so expect lots of people trying to get their hands on their favourite (now hugely discounted) item(s). And, since this is a first-come, first-served kind of sales, you need to come in early. If a product is gone, there is no stock to buy from at the given (Saldi) price. Usually, the winter sales start around January 6th (before the Epiphany) and end the first week of March. During this time, every shopping outlet, mall, and the store will be offering competitively priced merchandise that it would be extremely difficult to look away from.
Give yourself a natural spa-like experience
How about soaking in the Tuscany Hot Springs and indulging in an afternoon of ultimate pampering in the thermal waters? Indeed, this winter option is particularly preferred among both locals and tourists alike, who visit the Hot Springs for a rejuvenating and stress-relieving experience after a day of museum hopping, sals shopping, and skiing.
You may choose any of the numerous thermal centers in Tuscany and enjoy natural baths in waters bearing therapeutic properties for people with respiratory, rheumatic, and vascular diseases, among others. The temps in the springs range between 25oC and 54oC, making them perfect for a refreshing and healing bath.
You will find natural thermal waters in:
- Siena, Val d’Orcia and Grosseto (i.e., the Petriolo, Saturnia, Bagno Vignoni, Bagni san Filipo, and Chianciano Terme at Parco Acqua Santa.
- Between Val di Chiana and Chianti (e.g., Antica Querciolaia and San Giovanni).
- Umbria (San Casciano del Bagni)
- Between Florence, Pisa, and Lucca (Gambassi Terme, San Giuliano Terme, Monsummano Terme), and many more.
Of course, you can always head to a spa center and be treated with top-quality mud baths, massage services, and bubbly spring waters to take tension away from those tired muscles!
Join a winter festival
Truth be told, it is impossible to feel bored at Tuscany as there is always something going on in the roundabouts. Seems that locals find a reason to celebrate life and have fun year-round! So, depending on the time of your arrival, you can enjoy, for instance, the holiday season and the festive Christmas markets in December.
Or, you could consider exploring the Montalcino wineries in February, when they release a new Brunello di Montalcino. If you do, we suggest not missing out on the 2-day Brunello Crossing event. It offers a fantastic winery tour where you can meet wine producers, familiarise yourself with authentic traditions of the land, learn about the winemaking process, experience the aromas of the wine that ages in the cellars, and, of course, take palate-pleasing sips of vintage wines while trying typical local products. This year, the event is hosted between 13-14 February and also includes a marathon that you could also join!
Of course, February is the month of:
- The Italian Carnival (filled with music, festivals, and masked dancing groups of people).
- The antique fairs (every first Sunday of the month in the Arezzo area).
- Organic and artisan markets.
- Celebrations for Fat Thursday.
- The XXX Festival International Chamber Music and so many more.
As for March, don’t be surprised if you see huge bonfires built in the cities and villages you go by. These pagan ritual flames welcome the arrival of Primavera (the time of sowing). The Capodanno Pisano (a second celebration of the New Year) is another event worth watching from up close.
Truffle hunting is a popular pastime in the winter months that appeals to many locals and visitors alike. There are six zones throughout Tuscany where truffled are found:
- Mugello (the Barberino di Mugello Festival will give you the chance to taste truffles of the area – takes place in mid-September and the last weekend of October).
- Maremma Grossetana
- Hills of San Miniato (aka the City of Truffles) – Truffle-related fairs and festivals are held in the last three weekends of November and March.
- Casentino Valley
- Val Tiberina – You can join special events from mid-October through mid-November in Badia Tedalda town.
- The Crete Senesi
It should be noted that most of these events are accompanied by a lot of food and local delicacies, such as the fritelle (fried balls of rice stuffed with pine nuts and raisins, or dough)!
Whenever in the winter months you decide to visit Tuscany, you not only enjoy less crowded streets and short lines but also get to find concerts and theatrical shows in English with world-renowned conductors, opera singers, and musicians. This gives you more than ample space to experience the genuine Tuscany lifestyle and a more laid-back pace than in the summertime.
So, take your time to enjoy your morning cup of coffee in a historic caffè or from the comfort of your luxury mansion in Tuscany while overlooking cascading hills, lush valleys, and the most majestic sunrises ever seen by human eyes.