17 Aug 2012

August is symbolic of summer. It is the month of Ferragosto, San Lorenzo, Palio dell’Assunta, and many village festivals.

Tuscany in August

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 August?

August is symbolic of summer. It used to be the hottest month of the season (not anymore – July usually is, even though this year we had three full months of crazy hot weather and no rain), at least until the second half of the month, when the weather normally changes and the days start to get that distinctive “end-of-summer feel” until the “aria settembrina“, September air, finally sets in.

Temperatures are usually high, ranging between 28 and 35C (82.40-95F) during the day and 18-24C at night (64.40-75.20F). The first half of the month is usually dry, while typically, some summer storms are to be expected during the second half of the month. By the end of the month, you are likely to get some cooler days, when the weather starts to change.

Tuscany in August

(Photo by stefanedberg)

The countryside is dry, featuring the typical range of colors of the Italian summer: bright yellow, brown, blue, and dark green. Do not expect to see much greenery in the fields, and even vineyards will start to look a bit dry, even though they will be covered in red and green grapes. Some of the largest wine estates usually start the grape harvest before the end of the month, unless the summer has been very dry like this year, when they necessarily have to wait for some rain to fall.

This is the perfect time of the year to go to the beach, hang by the pool and dine “al fresco”. Most restaurants and bars will have outdoor tables. By the end of the month you might need a light scarf to cover your shoulders if you have dinner outdoors.

Beach in Tuscany

Beaches will be crowded, at least over the weekend and around Ferragosto (August 15), and renting chairs and an umbrella from one of the bars on the beach is usually more expensive than during the other summer months but you might want to experience the most typical of the locals’ pastimes: baking on the beach.

Will everything be closed in August?

No, it will not. August is the month during which the country literally stops for the summer holidays. This, however, does not mean that, like many are led to believe, restaurants and attractions will be closed. In fact, August is super high season for tourism and tourism-related businesses, so only the people who normally work exclusively with the locals might choose to take a couple of weeks off (eg. bars near the universities, or near office buildings and which cater to students and workers only, shops in residential areas, etc.).

Truth be told, cities will be much quieter than usual, as residents will have flocked to the coast or back to their second homes elsewhere (usually in the villages and cities where the family was originally from). The popular destinations such as Rome, Florence or Venice will be bustling with visitors though, and with events to entertain them.

I should, however, add that over the past couple of years, because of the economic crisis, more and more people choose to spend the summer at home, and most cities have a rich calendar of events even for locals, which makes being in the city in August definitely more pleasant than it used to be.

Will everything be more expensive?

Probably. It shouldn’t but it usually is. Gas prices tend to go up, and of course prices for accommodation are also higher (not at our rentals though! We have just one price for the summer season… Check out our Casina di Rosa and Behind the Tower websites… Just saying! LOL)

Sagre, dinners “under the stars”, festivals

Being the month of the summer holidays par exellence, August usually boasts a rich calendar of events. Many villages and towns will have their yearly Sagra in August. In our village, Civitella Marittima, the Sagra dell’Alta Maremma has traditionally been held the last weekend of August, even though this year it was on the third weekend of the month for some reason, so they might have started a new tradition! Anyway, if you happen to be in Tuscany in August, you should definitely try to go to at least one village festival and mix and mingle with the locals!

Vineyards in August

(Photo by WonderingtheWorld)

One of the most interesting events in the Maremma area is Festambiente, a festival dedicated to the environment and featuring great concerts.

And of course, August 16th is the day of Palio dell’Assunta in Siena.

The night of San Lorenzo

The night of San Lorenzo (August 10th) is a big deal here in Italy even though it is relatively unknown outside of this country. August 10th (and surrounding days) is apparently the best time to see shooting stars (stelle cadenti in Italian, literally “falling stars”).

If you can overlook the dramatic story of the martyrdom of San Lorenzo, who was burnt alive by the Romans, this is a magical night! First of all it falls right at the heart of the summer, and I believe there is not a single Italian who does not have a fond memory of one such night (you can read about mine here).

Moon over Tuscany

(Photo by steveinleighton)

When the weather is nice, it’s the perfect time of the year to lie on a quiet beach or in a harvested field in the countryside and watch the sky, waiting for the next shooting star to cross it. When you see one, your instinct is to scream “Oh, did you see that!?” (I’m taking for granted that shooting star spotting is not a solo activity here…). But you are not supposed to do that, because you are supposed to keep quiet, make a wish and hope that it will come true!

Calici di Stelle is a wine festival held on August 10th in most towns which have a wine-making tradition.


Ferragosto (August 15th), is a very popular holiday in Italy. Even though most people consider it just a day off on which you have to do something special, Ferragosto is in fact a religious holiday. The Catholic Church commemorates the “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary“, that is the real physical elevation of her body into Heaven.

The  most typical way to celebrate Ferragosto is to go on a so-called “gita fuori porta“, literally a “day trip to some place outside the city gates”. Most people go to the beach, or have a picnic in the woods on the nearest mountain or in the countryside.

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  1. Thanks Gloria! I’ll be there in mid-November and can’t wait to hear about the truffle festivals and what to expect.

  2. Anita

    Thanks for a lovely description! Looking forward to Calici di Stelle!!

    My family is visiting Montalcino for a week in August. The oldest person is 70 and the youngest will be 10 months. Any special suggestions for what to do or see?

    • Hi, well, Montalcino itself is a gem. The whole area is gorgeous: The Abbey of St. Antimo, Pienza, Montepulciano and the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore are all well worth a visit. Siena too of course! Have fun!

      • Hi Gloria, would you advise against visiting Pienza in August? Is early June better in terms of scenery. It’s my first visit to Tuscany and want to experience it at its best.

        • Hi, not at all. Usually in early June the landscape is already very summery (brown fields). It is very pretty nonetheless: actually Tuscany is like that most of the time. The green fields last only a few weeks (April and early May). By late May, the countryside is usually brown (or golden if there is wheat in the fields) and it stays like that until November. So June or August is the same. The only difference might be the heat (August is usually hotter than early June, but not necessarily of late June).
          So in terms of views, I think both the “spring” and the “summer versions” are equally “iconic” if you see what I mean. I hope this helps.

          • Thank you very much for your quick reply! I will go in late August of this year and hopefully in April next year, to do a comparison.

  3. Sophie


    We are coming to Italy for a month, driving around various places and cannot wait! We will be in Tuscany in August and would like to know the BEST places to visit for the famous cypress landscapes/sunflowers/rolling hills/vineyards etc. We are staying in Locanda la Piazze and only have 3 nights – apart from visiting Sienna, where else do you recommend for the prettiest landscapes?
    Thank you

    • Val d’Orcia and le Crete are where you want to be.

    • Sunflowers are not in bloom anymore in August.

  4. melissa

    HI Gloria,
    Very much enjoy and appreciate your blog!
    We are coming to Rome, then in Tuscany (Vinci) a week , then to Venice for a few days . Any recommendations that you can add would be appreciated. Will have a car and open for all.
    Thanks again!

    • I don’t know the area of Vinci very well. I am sorry! But you will have a fabulous time, I am sure. Take it slow!

  5. Heather Chenery

    Hello Gloria, Thank you for the beautiful read. We are coming to San Donato Aug 22 – traveling with three children 8-11 and my parents 75 years old. We have three days to explore neighboring villages and my thought was it would be great to have a local take us around. Do you recommend that or know if is readily available or is a car rental better? Also if you had top 5 places near San Donato to visit, where would you go? 🙂 Last question, my husband and I wanted to renew our wedding vows with our family. It will be simple but it would be fantastic to be in a beautiful local catholic church. Any insight on how to arrange this in advance? Thank you so very much and my apologies for so many questions!

    • Several San Donato in Tuscany, which one are you going to stay at? Happy to answer once I know where you will be.

  6. Cat

    Hi Gloria,

    Thanks for the info!

    We are planning a wedding in a villa just 10km outside of Tuscany mid August (23rd). Some of our guests have young children and I’m wondering will the heat be a problem for them as the villa (and most others) do not seem to have air con. Would love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks in advance!

  7. we have rented a house near Montopoli for 2 weeks in August. Our family is coming to celebarte our 35th anniversary. I did not want to move around and i now think it is a bad idea. i wanted to mix both beach and towns and villages visits but beach seems to be far away or very crowded. any suggestion?

    • Beach is quite far, and it will be crowded in August but probably not on week days if you go down to the Maremma.

  8. John Breglio

    Your big is really great. I am taking my whole family including two grandchildren (ages 4 and 7) to Tuscany this coming August. We’re staying at one of the villas at Il Borro. I got concerned recently when I heard that Tuscany “shuts down” in August especially at the end of the month (when we’re going)!! Is that true? We want to visit the neighboring towns such as Pisa, Arezzo etc. and very local shops and cafes. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Not in the most visited places. And not at the end of the month. You will be fine. Some places, like those where students go to, will be on holiday because of course they prefer taking some time off when the students are still not back at work. But you will be fine.

  9. Hi Gloria, I enjoy reading your blog.
    A family vacation is planned in Tuscany in third week of August.
    Noted that it will rather hot then but will it be humid too?

    • it depends on where you go. However, over the past few years it is getting more and more humid.

  10. Hi Gloria!
    I have enjoyed reading your blog. We are attending the Andre Botchelli concert on August 3rd. Arriving in Rome July 27 and driving to Amalfi and then to the Tuscany area. My question is dress attire and evening temperatures for the concert as well as local towns that are not tourist oriented. Thank you for your knowledge of your beautiful area.

    • Hi Sherie,
      at the moment it is very hot and temperatures never go below 25C even at night. You can pretty much expect that. Teatro del Silenzio is perched on a hilltop so there might be some breeze. Dess attire for the concert is formal. Anywhere else, you can wear whatever is comfortable for you provided shoulders and knees are covered if you plan on visiting churches. Where will you be based? The least touristy oriented area is Southern Tuscany towards the coast (the Maremma area).

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