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 prospective 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 July?
Usually very hot. July is the hottest month of the year, with several days with temperatures ranging between 28-35°C (82.4-95°F) during the day and 22-27°C (71.6-80.6°F) at night. There are some exceptional years like 2011, when the second half of the month was remarkably cool, but that is not the norm. And there are heat waves like we are experiencing these days where temperatures reach 40°C (104°F).
If all you want is sunny hot days to spend by the pool, July is your month, because rain is a really exceptional event.
If you are getting ready to visit Tuscany in July, all you will need to pack are short-sleeved shirts, light cotton pants, shorts and light dresses or skirts. And of course sandals, flip flops, sun cream and a bathing suit. Remember to bring something to cover your shoulders with if you plan on visiting churches: many churches do not allow visitors in if their shoulders and knees are bare, and this is equally true for both men and women.
If you plan on heading to a rural area, expect large fields of sun flowers, sun drenched yellow fields dotted with hay bales, and orchards full of colorful peaches, plums and apricots hanging from the trees.
(Photo by micheleluconi)
The only bright green you will see is in the vineyards.
July is also the month of lavender: it is in full bloom and gets harvested.
If you plan on visiting the cities, you will find that most of the people in the streets are tourists. Schools are closed for the summer holidays and most families start to move to their second homes on the coast, in the mountains or in the villages their family was originally from, with the result that cities are empty and villages like ours are bustling.
The liveliest and most crowded areas will be the islands of the Tuscan archipelago and the coast. The most popular beaches are in the Maremma, on the Etruscan coast south of Livorno and in Versilia, north of Pisa.
What is in season in July?
If you have an orchard or vegetable garden, this is the time of the year when what you get usually exceeds by far what you can eat.
Apricots, peaches, pears and plums are delicious. Strawberries too.
Melons and watermelons are usually ready by the end of the month.
Tomatoes, green peppers, lettuce, and zucchini are ready too. This is the best month to enjoy delicious fruits and vegetables.
Sagre, medieval reenactments and music festivals
July is the month of village festivals, convivial dinners al fresco, medieval festivals and music festivals.
Many villages have their yearly sagra either in July or August and most village associations organize theme dinners every weekend dedicated to various seasonal ingredients so as to raise funds for the local football team or for other projects. In our village, Civitella Marittima, these dinners are usually organized from mid June to early August and they often involve good food prepared by the local women, a lot of wine and live music. A neat way to experience the local lifestyle.
July is also the month of some more remarkable festivals such as the amazing medieval festival in Monteriggioni, a tiny hamlet north of Siena enclosed by a circle of perfectly preserved defensive walls. The festival really brings visitors back in time.
If you like music, this is the month when some of the major events take place. If you like opera, you should not miss the Puccini Festival held in Torre del Lago, near Lucca, the Opera Festival during which some of the most popular operas are staged in extraordinary settings such as the Boboli Garden in Florence or the Abbey of San Galgano south of Siena. And of course July is usually the month of Andrea Bocelli’s concert at Teatro del Silenzio (the “theatre of the silence”), a really unique experience.
(Photo by ho visto nina volare)
(Photo by Around Tuscany)
If you prefer pop music, then you should keep an eye on the Lucca Summer Festival program. Every year major artists come play in the heart of this beautiful city.
Another interesting event is the festival of ancient music in the Pisa and Lucca area.
Palio di Siena
July is also the month of the first Palio di Siena of the year, Palio di Provenzano, which takes place on July 2. If you are not afraid of the heat and the crowds, you should consider attending the race.
(Photo by icedsoul)
If you prefer quieter events, maybe you might want to go to the trials on the days which preceede the actual race.
Tutti al mare
As soon as the first warm days arrive, Italians flock to the nearest beach they can find. It is a “mass exodus”. Going to the beach is a must in this country, so expect crowded coastal resorts at the weekend and empty cities.
(Photo by Around Tuscany)
Here is a post I published 3 years ago (wow… time flies!) which talks about ideas for a day at the beach in Tuscany.
Living (and travelling) slow
July is the perfect month for slow living (and travelling). The heat, the colors of the countryside and its rhythms, the days on the beach, they all demand a slower pace. Which is also the best way to enjoy Tuscany.
Here are some photos I took two years ago on a hot day in July while leisurely driving though the countryside surrounding our village: Off-the-beaten-path Tuscany: A Slow Drive in Tuscany.