Winter Trip to Tuscany

Dec 8th, 2010, 10:32 AM
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Winter Trip to Tuscany

My husband and I are thinking about visiting Tuscany from Dec. 29, 2010- Jan. 8, 2011. Does anyone have any recommendations of what to do and go during the winter? We were thinking going to some wineries but not sure what else we would do. We have been to Italy before but wanted to return because of the great food, scenary, and people. The cheapest flight I have found is landing in Florence, so I think this will be our starting point but are open to small towns and villages. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! I have not done any research yet but plan on starting tonight.
karabearcb is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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You should know that Tuscany is rather cold and bleak that time of year. I doubt is any wineries will be available. Consider spending your time in Florence and Siena and let the weather dictate your other feasible options.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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I agree with Bob - if you're going for the scenery, it's the wrong time of year to really enjoy rural Tuscany. Stick with the cities, where you have plenty of opportunity to come in from the cold - museums, shopping, cafes, etc.
hazel1 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 11:12 AM
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More than 9 months ago, I read an article in the NY Times specifically about spending time in Tuscany in the was a great article & really highlighted the positive aspects of visiting at that time...think warm cozy fireplaces, hearty Tuscan food, wonderful wine, no tourists! I never forgot the article & just googled it...Its called "Tuscany Without the Crowds"...something like that & you should be able find it. (I'm too computer illiterate to cut & paste the website address--wish I knew how to do that!) Specifically, it mentions visiting the Val D'Orcia in December. Refers to that time of year as "the Real Tuscany".

spungecake is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 11:38 AM
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Here's the NY Times article:
Marija is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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You certainly can visit wineries in January!

In fact, that is when many winemakers and buyers choose to visit the region. The harvest is long over and the winemakers have time to devote to other things, including welcoming visitors. We were in Florence and southern Tuscany a few years ago. We often travel in January for just the reasons mentioned in that article. The main drawback will be that some restaurants and hotels will close for a vacation during that period. But plenty will be open.

I will be happy to share tips with you so come back with more questions. You should consider renting a car, if you have not done so. Also, if you are bothered by the cold, you might want to stay away from the hill towns with the highest altitude...
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 12:29 PM
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One more thing that I forgot to mention is that hotel rates in most of the region are at their lowest during the winter months, and the lack of tourist crowds allows you to see a face of the region that may not be visible during the high season.

I have to chuckle at the comment about wineries being closed because we could not take a step in the area, or so it seemed, without running into people from the wine industry....
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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I really appreciate everyone's quick feedback. I will do some digging tonight and will have some follow-up questions later. The article from the New York Times sounded wonderful, but I am a little worried about the cold. I will discuss with my husband tonight. Thank you again!
karabearcb is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 01:47 PM
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Ok..let us know what you decide!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 04:07 PM
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I haven't travelled in the exact time period you have outlined but last December 3-17, we had a wonderful trip starting in Florence and flying out of Rome. It was not particularly cold and we only had a couple of days with precipitation. Of course, there are no guarantees of weather but as for scenery, it was splendid with a mixture of Fall colors and winter wheat (?) sprouting like a green lawn all over the Val D'Orcia. The prices for hotels and an apartment in Montepulciano were the lowest in a dozen trips, the restaurants were open and the food seemed more appropriate for the weather--hearty.

As for wineries, apart from the holiday closings, I would expect them to be open--they were while we were there. It may take a phone call to be certain and possibly an appointment. Be careful of the New Year closings and hours.

macanimals is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 04:21 PM
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Don't worry too much about the cold. Silk long johns will take care of that. I want to go.

Have a great time!
cafegoddess is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 12:17 PM
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Unfortunately we have been reviewing the weather forecasts and we have decided to hold off on this trip until it gets warmer. We really appreciate all your tips but the weather in Europe this winter is exceptionally cold. Hopefully we will travel here sometime in 2011.
karabearcb is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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I am certainly hoping the winter eases up a little because I am planning to spend some time in Tuscany at the end of January.
dcatkinson is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 03:48 PM
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Good idea !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 12th, 2010, 02:28 AM
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Italy is NOT cold right now like the rest of Europe. It was EIGHTY TWO DEGREES yesterday where I live in Italy. (Near Genoa.) So the fact that there has been record-breaking cold in the rest of Europe doesn't mean anything.

That said, there is no predicting what the weather will be in January or February in Italy based on the first two weeks in December. People's reactions to cold are subjective, so I'm not encouraging the OP to back to her original plan. Just letting others know.

Also, I am surprised to read that the Tuscan countryside is "bleak" in February. What years were bobthenavigator and hazel1 in the Tuscan countryside in February? (I thought bob always traveled in May and September?) Most of the time it is quite green over the winter in Tuscany.

Here is a blog written by someone who visited wineries in February. You can see from her picture of Sant'Antimo how green it is.

Florence is one of the coldest places I've been in Italy in winter. And I'd much prefer to be in a warm car doing scenic driving than waiting for trains or buses in Florence or Siena in February.

I've encountered snow in November in the Tuscan hills and I wouldn't rule it out for any time in late fall or winter. You can't be locked into plans that means you need to travel on roads that require snow chains. But that leaves a lot of Tuscany to explore.
zeppole is offline  
Dec 12th, 2010, 02:33 AM
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Sorry -- I forgot the link to the blog about being in the val d'Orcia is February:

zeppole is offline  
Dec 12th, 2010, 02:38 AM
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Here's an even better link to the blogger's pictures from her trip to Tuscan wineries in February. Most people would not call this landscape bleak once they'd seen it.
zeppole is offline  

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