Autumn in Tuscany is a kaleidoscope of colours, flavours and emotions. Besides being the harvest season - just think about the olive and grape harvest, mushrooms, truffle and chestnuts – it is also the ideal season for those who love beautiful landscapes. Whether you are fans of photography or simply want to enjoy a walk in nature, here are 5 places in Tuscany that give the best of themselves in the autumn.
1. Vineyards and grape harvest in Chianti
Between late summer and early autumn the harvest season begins: it is the most-awaited moment in all the vineyards of Tuscany. One of the areas of wine production par excellence is the Chianti, and participating in the grape harvest in these areas is like a dream come true.
La vendemmia, the grape harvest, is a well-rooted cultural tradition that follows a ritual: people picking grapes meet in the vineyard early in the morning and start harvesting by hand, filling small containers and putting them onto large wagons pulled by tractors that will deliver the grapes to the cellars. In the biggest vineyards the work is more automated, but it remains a tradition that follows very specific rituals.
Tourists often want to partake in an actual grape harvest on a working farm and ask us if it’s possible. It is, and you just have to look for private tour operators arranging this experience. This is like a game, not a job, and you can ask private accommodations directly if they do this for their guests. Instead, if you want to join the grape harvest as a worker, address the farmers' associations of the area or contact the local employment centres and look for “lavoro stagionale”.
If you do not want to participate in the harvest but instead prefer to enjoy the fruits of it, take part in an event connected to the grape harvest! In the days of the harvest there is a series of festivals, fairs and events related to grapes: have a look at Tuscanycious post, as well as the Chianti map (because not all of Chianti is the same!).
The vineyards are very intriguing both before and after harvest: if you are fond of photography, do not miss these shots!
2. Fall Foliage in Casentino
One of the more magical aspects of Tuscany in autumn are the colours. They change incredibly over the months: while in September and October the countryside is still dry and with all the shades of yellow, in October and November temperatures drop, the rain begins to fall more often and the landscapes turn red and orange. In December, the last month of autumn, many trees as well as vineyards lose all the leaves and the dominant colour is green again.
The Casentino National Park offers one of the finest natural spectacles in autumn: for a few weeks, the colours of the forest light up in infinite shades of yellow, red, green and orange. The best time to admire the colours of the forest is during the last two weeks of October and the first two of November. In this period there are many organised tours for you to discover and admire the colours of the forest.
Every year there are hiking trails, walking tours, exhibitions, photography workshops, festivals, tastings and many special events to experience the magic of autumn leaves in the forests. This is a special occasion to savour local recipes based on local products of the season, like mushrooms, chestnuts, pumpkin, honey and cheese.
3. Relax in a Spa in Val d’Orcia
The picturesque Val d'Orcia stretches mostly in the area of Siena and partly in the province of Grosseto, and is famous for the beauty of its enchanting landscapes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. It is also well known for its numerous spas as well as fascinating villages such as Pienza and Montalcino.
In the early cold days of the autumn, the vapours of warm thermal waters are a perfect way to relax and make everything magical and enchanting. You can follow our two-day itinerary in Val d’Orcia or visit just a couple of these places: http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/aroundtuscany/two-days-in-tuscany-a-car-ride-in-val-dorcia/
Each place is special in the Val d’Orcia. Chianciano Terme is well known for its thermal baths; Montepulciano for its Renaissance art and architecture; Monticchiello for its scenic cypress-lined roads; Pienza is considered to be the incarnation of a Renaissance utopia and an ideal city; San Quirico for its narrow streets and its Church of the Madonna di Vitaleta; Bagno Vignoni for its hot springs and the central Square of Sources with a 16th century tank containing thermal waters.
In autumn the hills and vineyards of the Val d’Orcia turn brown with shades of ochre and yellow. The villages emerge from a light cloud of fog and welcome visitors with tastings of local seasonal products: new wine, new oil, chestnuts and mushrooms. Not to be missed!
4. Walk in a deserted beach
A summer holiday in Tuscany has sun, sea and nature, and combines beautiful seaside villages with unspoiled landscapes. But what about autumn?
When everybody has gone, when only locals populate the seaside resorts and many restaurants close for vacation after the summer boom, it is the perfect moment to breathe the romance of the sea. In sunny autumn days you can walk on the deserted beaches and look at the solitary fishermen listening to the sound of the waves. Alternatively, you can dedicate the day to sports: you can run, surf, skate and more.
The beach in autumn is the favourite destination for those with a strong meditative mood and if you do not know which beach to choose here is the full list of Tuscan beaches from north to south: http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/aroundtuscany/coastal-areas-of-tuscany/
5. Mushrooms and chestnuts in Mugello
Autumn is a warm moment in Mugello, not because of the temperatures, but for the many events not to be missed. In addition to the amazing forests and the enchanting towns, the Mugello in autumn is a feast of flavours with festivals of all kinds, with the chance to taste the typical delicacies of the area.
The king of the autumn is for sure the “marrone del Mugello IGP” (Mugello chestnut) and there are many events dedicated to it, for example in Marradi and Palazzuolo sul Senio. Here you can find a comprehensive guide to the events in Mugello: http://www.mugellotoscana.it/en/events-and-festivals-in-mugello
Read more about this area of Tuscany: http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/aroundtuscany/mugello-tuscany/
Some tips about visiting Tuscany in autumn
Italians have an expression when speaking about the weather in autumn, which means something like “there are no midseasons anymore” (“non ci sono più le mezze stagioni”). We say this because it’s always hard to put on a jacket and warmer clothes after a hot, long summer, but the truth is that autumn is a midseason and you must know in advance what to pack. Be prepared for both sunny days and sudden downpours: I suggest you bring jeans or heavy cotton clothes, a light jacket, a cotton scarf, and something for the rain. If you visit Tuscany in November or December, bring something heavier as well (I already use wool in those months because I’m sensitive to the cold).
Another aspect of visiting Tuscany in autumn is that there isn’t the surge of summer tourists, so the places are more livable and it’s easier to shoot photographs without a multitude of people!