Traveling to Italy at any time of the year is a wonderful experience, but travel to Italy during the spring is even more wonderful than the rest of the year. Those who are not familiar with the country, or who have not traveled extensively throughout it tend to think that summer would be more ideal. There are a bevy of reasons as to why it is a fantastic time to be in Tuscany.
Italian Holidays to be Aware of
Italian holidays are revered by local populations and it is always good to be aware if holidays here prior to traveling. While hotels and restaurants which cater specifically to tourists are generally open even on widely celebrated holidays, a number of attractions may likely not be. Additionally, travel on these days within Italy itself can be very difficult. Trains and buses run limited schedules on most holidays and traffic on the highways can reach epic proportions. Add in the current issue with Icelandic volcanic eruptions and your travel could be severely impeded.
In the spring the major holidays which can put a cramp in your traveling style are Easter, the Monday after Easter, the 25th of April, the 1st of May, the 2nd of June and, specific to Florence, the 24th of June. You will always be able to find a place to eat, but it will be decidely more difficult. Stocking your hotel room the day before a holiday with some wonderful snacks makes a lot of sense, as does planning museum visits for other days.
What Weather Can Visitors Expect in Spring in Italy?
Tuscan weather in the spring is generally idyllic. Rain occurs throughout the year so do not be surprised by the occasional flurry of showers. Packing a very small umbrella is always a good idea. Usually entrepreneurial young men are out selling them in every piazza the minute it starts to sprinkle, but having your own can come in handy.
The temperatures will generally be warm throughout the day with slightly cooler nights so packing clothes which layer well will make your trip much more comfortable. Beach weather generally begins at Easter if if falls in the later part of April, traditionally a trip to the beach that weekend is the start of the tanning season for Italians and also marks the beginning of the tourist season.
From personal experience, the author can tell you that anything from lazing in the sun to the last snowfall of the year in the Tuscan hills will occur in April, while May and June give you days which range from warm to downright hot. Pack accordingly, and take a look at meteo.it for weather forecasts, the site is very accurate and lays out the weather for the whole country at a glance.
Italian Cuisine in the Spring
Most restaurants which cater to locals tend to have very seasonal ingredients and spring is peak season for a huge variety of fruits, vegetables and local artisanal cheeses. Take a trip off the beaten path and head to local markets, restaurants outside of the tour guides and tap in to the local cuisine.
Remember that the Slow Food movement was born here, so if fresh, local and flavorful are words that start you salivating then spring in Tuscany is a season to explore. Many of the agritourism and cooking school oriented accommodations are in their prime at this time of year.
Specific Seasonal Attractions
There are few things that are must-sees in the Tuscan Spring. Of course, those coming to Florence do not want to miss the Uffizi and other museums the city boasts, but a few day trips offer fantistic options outside of the city.
A trip to Siena at the end of June offers the opportunity to see the twice annual Palio and witness a tradition which combines bareback horseriding, centuries old rivalries and ample amounts of celebration. The dates vary annually, but there is one riding of the Palio at the end of Junish and one in the middle August.
The third week of June also offers another sporting attraction in Florence, the supposed birthplace of soccer. The final of “Calcio Storico” is played on the 24th of June and shows the roots of the sport in tempestous matches played in front of Santa Croce, with the famed statue of Dante gazing on.
Throughout the spring food festivals abound in Tuscany and for all those who appreciate arts and crafts the Fortezza di Basso holds an annual fair of handcrafting, Mostra Mercato Artigianato at the end of April through the beginning of May. Everything from handmade jewelry on is on display from artists from all over Europe.
The entire region is in its full glory during springtime, with rolling green hills bursting with flowers and a trip to Tuscany in the spring is an absolutely unforgettable experience which everyone should have at least once.