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The magic of foliage: autumn in the forests of Tuscany

The best places to admire falling leaves, from Casentino to the Garfagnana

Foliage is one of the most beautiful aspects of autumn in Tuscany: strolling through the region’s colorful forests is an incredible experience, made even better if you top off your excursion with a hearty lunch. Two of the best ingredients? Porcini mushrooms and chestnuts, two of Tuscany’s most delicious “forest fruits,” around which many regional specialties are based, like Castagnaccio or pappardelle pasta with mushrooms.  

We begin in the National Nature Reserve of the Casentinesi Forests, home to Italy’s most colorful forests: from electric yellows to violet reds, from forest greens to bright oranges, the shades lighting up these forests are simply amazing.

Santuario la Verna
Santuario la Verna

Among the most captivating spots to visit is the peak of Mount Penna above the Lama Forest. You reach it via the same road that takes you to both the Hermitage at Camaldoli and the Campigna Forest, along with the beech, maple and fir tree forest encircling the Sanctuary of La Verna

Autumn is spectacular in the Garfagnana mountains, too: see an incredible panoramic view at the medieval Verrucole Fortress in the municipality of San Romano, but don’t miss the leaves falling at the Hermitage at Calomini, which is perched on a sheer rock face. In autumn, even the towns themselves are also a sight to see: there are numerous festivals dedicated to chestnut flour, used to make delicious desserts. Don’t miss Isola Santa, Trassilico and Barga.

Autumn in Isola Santa
Autumn in Isola Santa - Credit: Cristiano Antonini

To finish, you must make a stop at Monte Amiata: that great “mother mountain,” an ancient inactive volcano. It’s beautiful throughout autumn and the area regularly hosts festivals dedicated to woodland foods. Visit Abbadia San Salvatore, a beautiful medieval village filled with traces of history, like its Abbey. There’s also the unique gem of Santa Fiora, which has a great fish market; then to top off your trip, kick back and relax in Saturnia, enjoying a day at the spa or dipping into the natural open-air springs.

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