04 Jul 2012

If you love hot sunny days spent on the beach or driving through the fields of sunflowers in the sun drenched countryside, you should consider visiting Tuscany in July.

Tuscany in July

Tuscany in July

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).

Tuscany in July

Tuscany in July

If all you want is sunny hot days to spend by the pool, July is your month, because rain is a really exceptional event.

Tuscany in July

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.

Tuscany in July

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.

Tuscany in July

tuscany in july

(Photo by micheleluconi)

Tuscany in July

Tuscany in July

The only bright green you will see is in the vineyards.

Tuscany in July

Tuscany in July

July is also the month of lavender: it is in full bloom and gets harvested.

Tuscany in July

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.

Tuscany in July

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.

Tuscany in July

Tuscany in July

Apricots, peaches, pears and plums are delicious. Strawberries too.

Tuscany in July

Melons and watermelons are usually ready by the end of the month.

Tuscany in July

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.

Tuscany in July

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.

Tuscany in July

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.

palio di siena

(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.

Comments

  1. Superb write up and photos of Tuscany in July my friend! Wow…those sunflowers are stunning!! Actually, all the pics are simply gorgeous. Thanks for this inspiring post!

  2. Holly Plaviak

    Gloria,

    I very much enjoyed you posting on Tuscany in July. I was an art student thirty years ago in Cortona. I would very much like to visit it again and travel other towns throughout Tuscany as well. I was wondering if you would mind answering a question about the agriculture and environment there. I have extreme sensitivities to pesticides. Do you know if pesticide use for agriculture is the norm in Italy?

    Thank you for any assistance,
    Holly

    • Some pesticides will be used, but you can find organic in every supermarket.

  3. Juliet

    Hi. I love your post. I’m looking to spend some time in a foreign land and Tuscany is one of the places that interest me. Any recommendations if I plan to stay for 3 months? I will want to rent a small place in a picturesque setting. No car, just bike around, enjoy the peace and quiet, simple food, and like Italians say ‘Dolce Farnieninte’! Appreciate your thoughts! Cheers, Juliet

    • To bike in Tuscany you need to be well trained becuase it is very hilly and the distances between towns and villages are remarkable. You might also look into choosing a larger town rather than a small village or a place in the countryside because without a car it is going to be fun for a couple of days only… especially in the heat of the Italian summer. You might want to look into staying in a place which has enough for you to do even without a car and good public transportation. Maybe a city like Pisa or Lucca, or a town like Certaldo. Not sure… I am a big fan of having a car in Tuscany because I grew up in my tiny village (yet super well connected by public transportation to both Siena and Grosseto), and I know how convenient it is not having to bother with bus schedules.

  4. Mariana Brink

    Hi
    My family (2 adults and 2 kids) will be touring through Tuscany. We are considering renting a motor home and staying over at camp sites or renting a car and staying in affordable accomodation. Can you recommend campsites? Do you know of places eg farms where we will be allowed to stay over in the campervan. Or do you know of nice affordable accomodation in Tuscany. If we only have 6 days in Tuscany, which towns are best to stay in? I was thinking staying in one place for 2 nights at a time and then sight seeing from there for the 2 days and then move on to e next place. Apart from the 6 nights we will also sleep in Florence one night. I am really keen to hear from you. Thank you!!

  5. Hello Gloria, thank you for this helpful post. My husband and I are thinking of taking our 9-month-old baby to Tuscany (Vinci) in the second half of June – do you think the heat will be a problem for a baby? Thanks!

    • Well, you need to be careful. You should not be out in the sun during the hottest hours of the day (between 11 and 4 it might be very hot) and make sure you cover him up in sunscreen. Hat and water are a must. It is not impossible, but you will have to slow down. At least this is my experience with our son.

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