01 Oct 2011

October is the month when the fall starts to set in. The weather is usually still very pleasant, but some rain should be expected. However, normally, October is a great month to visit Tuscany. Don’t expect the spectacular north American foliage though! Unfortunately, we don’t get the spectacular shades of red… but we get porcini mushrooms and chestnuts!

Tuscany in October

01

I have always wanted to write a post about what Tuscany is like at different times of the year. I get the question a lot from possible guests of our vacation rentals. So, I have decided this is my new “pet project” for the next 12 months, 1 month in Tuscany at a time! With a word of caution: every year things are slightly different and vary across Tuscany (no need to remind you that Tuscany is a big place, right? If so… please check my post about the various regions of Tuscany, thanks!). See all the posts in this series.

What is Tuscany like in October?

October is the month when the fall really starts to set in. The first half of the month is usually still quite warm with temperatures that range between 20 and 25°C (68-77°F) during the central hours of the day, then drop in the evenings and are much lower in the mornings (between 10 and 15°C/50-59°F). This year, the beginning of October promises to be warmer than average, just like September was. By mid October, temperatures will range between 10°C (50°F) and 20°C (68°F).

October in Tuscany

Some rain should be expected. The beginning of the month usually sees occasional bad weather which never lasts too long, while at the end of the month, the bad weather can be more persistent. Windy days are quite common in October.

Normally, it will still be nice enough to eat outdoors at lunch time, although by the end of the month, you might be more comfortable indoors. In the evenings, especially if windy, it is preferable to sit inside. By the last week of October, you might enjoy the first fire of the season and find sitting in front of the fireplace quite pleasant. In Tuscany, it is usually too cold (well… at least for Italians!) to go to the beach or use a swimming pool. As a matter of fact, most swimming pools will be closed at the end of September.

October in Tuscany

(Photo by Francesco Sgroi)

If you visit Tuscany in October remember to pack both short-sleeve and long-sleeve shirts, and a light jacket. I love wool cardigans which you can either use under your jacket in case of an usually cold October or as a jacket. In any case, you will need to dress in layers. Most people stop wearing open shoes even if it’s still warm: if you want to blend in, it’s time to move to closed footwear! (See my post about the fact that Italians dress for the season rather than for the weather).

October in Tuscany

Colors start to change in the countryside. Don’t expect the spectacular north American foliage: we almost totally lack the shades of red. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get any fall colors. During the second half of the month, vines start to turn yellow and in fact, the only place where you might see shades of red is in some vineyards. Leaves on trees also start to turn yellow and brown. The foliage in Lucca is beautiful at the end of October.

October in Tuscany

If October is rainy, green grass will make its appearance after the summer dryness and will cover the fields with a thin coat of green. Olives start to turn purple on the olive trees and pomegranates assume their beautiful magenta color. Persimmons turn yellow and wild bushes are covered in red berries.

October in Tuscany

If you have a chance to take a walk in the woods, you will notice many hot pink wild cyclamens: so pretty!

October in Tuscany

What is in season in October?

October is a relatively “poor” month in terms of seasonal products. Pears and apples are in season but Tuscany is not a major producer. Grapes are still available and you might be able to get the last egg plants of the seasn. By the end of the month the first persimmons, pomegranates and chestnuts might be ready, although they are more likely to be ready in November.

October in Tuscany

If you like cabbage, October is your month! Broccoli, cowliflower, cabbage and sprouts are in season and so are fennel, leeks and pumpkins.

The most appreciated of the ingredients on the October table are porcini mushrooms, especially if sunny and rainy days alternate and the temperatures are mild. This year seems to be promising.

Game meat is available, because the hunting season is open. If you go for a walk in the woods, make sure to wear something in bright colours.

October in Tuscany

Sagre or Village Festivals

October is a popular month for village festivals, so if you want to experience joining in the celebrations this is a good month. They are usually festivals dedicated to seasonal products.

Some festivals in our area are:

  • Sagra del Fungo Porcino (dedicated to porcini mushrooms) in Casale di Pari, first weekend of October.
  • Sagra del Fungo Amiatino (dedicated to mushrooms of the Mount Amiata) in Bagnolo di Santa Fiori, beginning of October

October in Tuscany

Other popular festivals and fairs which might be worth being incorporated into your travel plans are:

  • Festa della Vendemmia (dedicated to the grape harvest) in Asciano, beginning of October
  • Sagra del Galletto (dedicated to rooster meat) in Montalcino, first weekend in October
  • Sagra del Tordo (dedicated to thursh meat) in Montalcino, last weekend in October
  • Sagra della Castagna (dedicated to chestnuts) in Cortona, beginning of October
  • Dolcemente Pisa (fair dedicated to desserts) in Pisa, beginning of October
  • La Festa d’Autunno (dedicated to chestnuts and mushrooms) in Abbadia San Salvatore, mid October
  • Sagra della Castagna (dedicated to chestnuts) in Montieri, mid October
  • Castagna in festa (dedicated to chestnuts) in Arcidosso and Castel del Piano, mid October
  • Sagra del Primo Olio (dedicated to olive oil) in San Giovanni d’Asso, early October
  • Zucche in Festa (dedicated to pumpkins) in Castell’Azzara, early October

October in Tuscany

Steam engine trains

An attraction that few people know of is the old railway system. An association called “Ferrovie Turistiche” has revived the old railway line that, from Siena, cuts through the Val d’Orcia and reaches the villages of Mount Amiata. The line is not used anymore for the most part, except on special occasions when it is reopened to steam engine trains which take people to various events in the area.

The rides are usually organized in the spring and in the fall. In October, you can go from Siena to Asciano for the Grape Harvest Festival (October 2), or from Siena to Arcidosso and Castel del Piano on Mount Amiata for the Chestnut Festival (October 23). If you happen to be in Florence, on October 16, you can reach Marradi for the Chestnut Festival.

The website of the Ferrovie Turistiche is in English too.

Comments

  1. Gina Schmitz

    Gloria – I read your blog religiously & appreciate all the fall blog posts! My husband & I were just in Tuscany in May & plan on visiting sometime Sept/October 2013 – your rental is on the top of our rental property choices too! Thanks for taking the time to inform the uninformed! :) Gina

    • Thank you Gina! I am honoured!

  2. Jennifer

    Dear Gloria, I love your blog, which I found searching for “October in Tuscany.” I just decided to treat myself to my first trip to Italy for my 40th birthday in early October, because I have always dreamed of going. I much prefer “slow” vacations, where I spend more time in fewer areas, so I appreciate how you encourage that — even though there are so many wonderful places to visit in Italy. Right now, I am thinking of spending a week at one agriturismo, and then maybe a few days in Florence. For my week agriturismo stay, I am having a hard time choosing between the northern mountains near Barga, and the beautiful hills of Southern Tuscany. Do you know of any reason why I should choose one or the other for a visit to a farm in early October?
    Also, if you happen to have any recommendations for particular agriturismos that would be nice to visit in early October, I would be grateful for any advice!
    Many thanks!

    • Well, early October should be pretty in both places. The hills will probably still be quite “brown” after the summer. To tell you the truth except the occasional daytrip, I am not an expert in the Garfagnana area. It’s very pretty. I suspect it might be slightly cooler or rainier in October, but it’s just a hypothesis. In terms of accommodation, I guess the number of farms in southern Tuscany geatly exceeds the number of agriturismi in Noirthern Tuscany.

  3. Sandy Sullivan

    Hi and thanks for good info. We had started to plan a trip to Tuscany the last few days in Aug. first 10days of Sept this year. Today my friend threw a wet blanket on that idea. She visited and took cooking classes in the month of Jan. and said summer, even late summer is too crowded and also if its harvest time in Sept that would be crowded too. What say you ? Thank you in advance for your good counsel. Sandy

  4. kamlesh bhasin

    I am going to be ib your lovely country thanks to my children who have invited me and my husband for celeberating our daughters 50th birthday. we are senior citizens but I would love to see as much of your countrysite as posiblle. We will be there from 22nd to 27th October. We are coming from I ndia and I out of the whole lot am a vegetatrian.
    Will love to hear from you about any thing that will make our stay there memorable.
    Already having dreams of your beautiful countrysite.
    with regards
    kamlesh

    • What a nice present! You cold take an olive oil tour, or visit the wineries. You need to drive around to truly enjoy the countryside. Southern Tuscany is where you want to be. Being a vegetarian is not a problem: you will find plenty of options.

  5. Dina

    This is terrific insight into the region not just seasonally but monthly– really great. My husband & I, along with my 4 yr old daughter are spending 10 days in Tuscany this October, and reading this just warmed my heart. Folliage, harvest, comfortable during the day, and a possible fire at night. I will be there with bells on!
    Warm regards,
    Dina

    • Thank you Dina! Every year it can be a bit different, but the second half of October is usually cool. Considering the never ending summer we are having, October will hopefully be a real fall month!

      • Mary

        A friend and I will be visiting Tuscany for the first time starting in the first week of October. We can hardly wait! We’re staying in a converted farmhouse in le Piastre. Your post has inspired me to look at the possibilities of catching one of the festivals ..especially if porcini mushrooms are involved!

        • I am very glad to hear! Enjoy!

  6. alicia

    I n early october m going on cooking trip to tuscany. Dont want to pack too much
    Are a pair of jeans some shirts and jacket enough? Do i need a dress or skirt or buy it there? What kind of shoes?

    • You might want to pack some long sleeved shirts too. Early October is usually still very pleasant during the central hours of the day, but it is chilly in the mornings and evenings.

  7. cara Gloria! mille grazie, fantastic blog and such beautiful images…I will be visiting Tuscany end of October to celebrate my b-day there…do you have places to stay you could recommend? I wanted to stay in the area of Chianti; I was looking for organic wines; is Chianti area also where olive oil is being made or I need to go somewhere else to see the fresh olive oil?

    • Hi Jana, we have two rentals so I should recommend my own properties (Casina di Rosa and Behind the Tower) I guess! LOL Just kidding! We are all booked up for October 2012! Maybe next year! LOL I don’t know of any property personally, but the Chianti area is so popular that there is certainly no shortage of accommodation! Olive oil is made a bit everywhere in the region. The Maremma area is probably more popular for olive oil but you will find nice olive oil producers in Chianti too.

  8. Margaret elmore

    Hi Gloria
    We will be visiting Tuscany the first 2 weeks in Oct. we will be staying in Ulignano for 6 nights then 6 nights in Lucca and last 2 nights in Florence. We are two women trying to figure out what we need to pack and be wearing in your beautiful country. We are renting a car and will be traveling day trips. Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you and best regards. Margie

    • Hi Margie, the first two weeks of October are usually nice. You need layers. The central part of the day is usually warm enough that a long sleeved shirt is enough, but in the morning and evenings it gets chilly and you need something warmer. Bring something for rainy days too. Have fun!

  9. Annie Patricia

    Damn Good Gloria beautiful i love your blogs nowadays i’m going mad in reading this article no words to express.

  10. Kiki

    Hi Gloria, wow, so glad i found your website. My sister and i will be visiting tuscany from oct 11th to oct 21. would like to know what to pack. we both like to travel light if possible. we will fly into rome, than will be visiting sienna, assisi, florence, and will be based in montecatini. thanks!

    • You should find recommendations in the post. I have to say we are still in short sleeves at the moment as the temperatures are still quite warm for the season. The forecasts say that we will get some rain, but the temperatures should remain between 14 and 25°C so, as I mentioned in the post, layers.

  11. Jean

    HI GLoria, I just found your blog when I googled “October weather in Tuscany” My husband and I are traveling to Rome from the New England region of the US in early October and then taking the Train to Florence to visit our daughter. She is spending a semester at FUA. We will be spending a week in Firenze. Glad to hear that the weather will be cool and comfortable. I have MS and extreme heat makes getting around difficult. Cool weather I can walk for hours! I’m looking forward to all the wonderful fresh produce. I am gluten intolerant and pizza, pasta, and breads and pastry are not an option. I’m hoping polenta and risotto are popular starch options for dinner. Fruit is always a good option for breakfast and salads for lunch. I do feel bad I’ll be missing out on real Italian pizza though!

    • Most pizzerie and restaurants are starting to include options to accommodate gluten intolerant guests, so you will be fine!

  12. Taylor

    Hi Gloria,

    My fiancé and I are planning our honeymoon for mid to end of October in Tuscany and the Almalfi Coast. Any tips for us? I am a little worried about the weather, but it is a difficult time of year to travel to Europe in general.

    Ciao!
    Taylor

    • Hi Taylor, contratulations on your upcoming wedding! The weather has become very unpredictable even in July, so it is hard to tell… The end of October can be really nice or really rainy. All I can say is that it is usually a nice time of the year, before the more rainy days in November. In any case, you will have a fabulous time, because the countryside is really beautiful in late October.

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