23 Sep 2010

My favourite time of the year, perfect for discovering the best products of Tuscany.

5 things to do in Tuscany in the fall

Autumn is my favourite season of the year. Sure the spring in Tuscany is beautiful, with the flowers, and the warm sun and the bright green fields, but autumn in Tuscany is magic. The haze, the smells, the soft noises of countryside work, the cool breeze, the good food, the colours… Life slowly goes back to normal after the summer excitement. New clothes are in the stores, kids are back in school and teachers are sadly back to work!

The fall in Tuscany is generally quite different from the Northern European and North American fall. The colours of the countryside are not as bold or dramatic: the local woods cover in shades of dark green, yellow and brown but no reds, with very minor exceptions.

If you plan an early fall visit to Tuscany, you should keep in mind that at the end of September and in early October the temperatures during the daytime are still quite high and they drop in the evening, so you will need summer clothing and a light jacket for the mornings and evenings. Then, from mid October on, the weather becomes a bit more unstable and it get cooler and cooler, but generally never cold, until mid November and early December.

Here are some ideas of things to do if you plan on visiting our part of Tuscany in the autumn.

1. Visit a winery and its vineyards when they are in full swing

September is the month of the grape harvest in Tuscany, the vendemmia. Both small and large producers will be working full time to produce their wine, so this is the perfect time to go on a wine tour in Tuscany if you want to know everything about how wine is made in the area… well, not everything… as they won’t give away all their secrets! We went on a wine tour in the Maremma last month and loved it, and I guess now it would be even more interesting!

2. Visit an olive grove and an olive press when they are in full swing

If you are going to be in Tuscany in November, this is something you should definitely do. My family traditionally starts the olive harvest on November 1st or 2nd, after the celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. First at the mass or at the cemetery for the memorial service and then everybody in the fields! The olive harvest takes some time, so you will have a chance to see people picking olives all through the month of November and the beginning of December. Most olive presses in our area are happy to open their doors to visitors with a bit of advance notice. If you would like to join in an olive oil tasting tour, we can help you plan one. We know plenty of olive oil producers in the Maremma area, and we produce our own olive oil too. Of course the best way to enjoy the new olive oil is on a traditional bruschetta, also known as fettunta in some parts of Tuscany. Traditional bruschetta is made with toasted bread (better if done in the fireplace), garlic, salt and olive oil. Tomatoes and other toppings are a new thing around here.

Come stay at Casina di Rosa in November, and we will be very happy to provide you with a large basket of firewood and our freshly pressed olive oil for a full and authentic Tuscan olive oil experience!

3. Mushroom and truffle hunting

Depending on the weather, the mushroom season can be richer or poorer, but porcini mushrooms are still the king of the autumn table. To go mushroom hunting you need special permits and it is quite important to be experienced and to know your mushrooms well, as it can be tricky. Some wild mushrooms are extremely poisonous.

If you don’t want to go look for mushrooms but just enjoy them, then you should take advantage of the many village festivals in Tuscany dedicated to mushrooms. There is one just 10 minutes away from our village, in the hamlet of Casale di Pari, that is very popular. And the food is delicious!

Most restaurants will start including mushrooms in their menus. I actually had delicious mushroom lasagne at the Locanda nel Cassero yesterday!

Truffles are harder to find, and of course you need a trained dog. Some associations in the Crete Senesi area offer truffle hunting experiences to visitors. It might not be as authentic as a real hunt, but it is certainly very interesting and rewarding!

3. Discover the delicious chestnuts of this area of Tuscany

When one thinks of Tuscany, the first products that come to mind are wine and olive oil. Chestnuts, though, are one of the most amazing flavours on the Tuscan table. Chestnuts are produced on high hills or mountains, and they are therefore more typically found on Monte Amiata, on the high hills of the Alta Maremma, in Casentino and in Garfagnana.

In our area, Monte Amiata and the metalliferous hills are the places to visit if you love chestnuts. Most of the chestnut groves are private property but they are very beautiful. There are, however, several festivals during which local associations organize day trips to the woods to pick chestnuts and holiday farms that allow visitors to pick some of their chestnuts.

On Monte Amiata there is a chestnut beer brewery too and their beer is delicious!

A chestnut-themed daytrip to Monte Amiata is the perfect way to discover a beautiful part of Tuscany.

4. Try fresh game meat

Game meat, especially wild boar meat, is very popular among the locals. Most restaurants include wild boar and other game in their menus. The hunting season goes from September to the end of January (wild boar is hunted in November, December and January), so autumn is the season when you have the best chance to taste fresh game meat, including hare, pheasant and roe deer meat.

5. All of the above from an unusual angle

A way to enjoy all the traditional flavours of the season is to go to the many dedicated village festivals and fairs. A different way to do that is to go on one of the tours organized by the Ferrovie Turistiche, an association which owns and preserves old steam engine locomotives and which organizes thematic tours along the old Siena-Grosseto-Monte Amiata railway line.

It’s a fun way to go to the main festivals, especially if you are traveling with kids.

  • October 3rd, 2010: train ride to Festa dell’Uva in Asciano (wine festival)
  • October 10th, 2010: train ride to Monticello Amiata for the Chestnut Festival
  • October 17th, 2010: Treno del Fungo Porcino, train ride to the woods around Vivo d’Orcia.
  • October 24th, 2010: train ride to Chiusi for the Chestnut Festival
  • October 31st, 2010: train ride to Piancastagnaio for the festival dedicated to the local variety of chestnuts, Festa del Crastatone.
  • November 14th, 2010: train ride to the white truffle festival in San Giovanni d’Asso, in the Crete area.
  • November 21st, 2010: train ride to the white truffle festival in San Giovanni d’Asso.
  • December 5th, 2010: train ride to the olive oil festival in Montelaterone.
  • December 8th, 2010: train ride to San Quirico d’Orcia for the olive oil festival.


  1. Hi Gloria,

    Great list. We also like to bike in Tuscany!



  2. Gloria- I saw the steam trained advertised and wondered if it was worth it. Oct 3rd is the day after we get to your place. Any ideas if it would be worth taking a day to do? It’s the full day, so I wasn’t sure. It looks like we’d need to buy tickets online.

  3. Ciao Cindy!! Almost time!!! I went once to the olive oil festival in San Quirico and I thought it was a nice day out.

    The train ride is through a stretch of very pretty countryside. The line is very slow but the train for that event is a steam engine train. Neat!

    The train will leave Siena at 9:45, get to Monte Antico at 11:15 (you could in principle get on there, but then you would be stuck in Siena as it does a loop) and it will make a stop there because they have to turn around. People will be left free to get off and take pictures. At 11:40 the train leaves again and reaches Asciano at 1pm cutting through the beautiful Val d’Orcia and Crete Senesi.

    There is a lunch, for which you need to book (26 euros per person) and then you are free for the afternoon until 7pm when you get back on the train to go back to Siena.

    The ticket for the train ride is 29 euros per person.
    Here is the detailed program, but it’s in Italian:

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  5. Most wine producers will not thank you for suggesting you visit them now as they really are flat out and don’t have much time for visitors.

  6. Actually that’s not true. Most producers are very happy to show how they work and how unique their process are. Provided you let them know you will visit, most people will be enthusiastic about that. At least around here: most wineries are small family businesses and not large industrial productions. The pride of showing people how things are done is prominent! My dad is always happy when people ask to see and learn! Besides, if you see for yourself how things are done, you are more likely to leave with a few bottles! :o)

  7. Anna

    Hello Gloria,

    I came across your “5 things to do in Tuscany” and thanks for sharing all this information. I was wondering if you know any places that can help or arrange porcine hunting tour? Or may be there certain guided tours that you herd about? We planning to go to Southern Tuscany in sep 2011.
    Thank you so much.


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