Why Tuscany is even more magical in winter

Tuscany is a perfect off-season destination. Not for winter sun, clearly – though balmy days are possible – but for its choice of indoor and outdoor options and the chance to see some of Europe’s otherwise busiest cultural attractions at their quietest.

Florence is the key destination, a city that is hot and crowded – with queues for pretty much everything – in high season. In January, by contrast, you can walk straight into the great churches of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella and probably only wait a few minutes, if that, to see Michelangelo’s David and the major galleries of the Uffizi, Bargello and Palazzo Pitti. 

The same goes for Tuscany’s other peerless cities of art, notably Siena, Pisa, Lucca and Arezzo, where quieter streets and attractions are matched by restaurants that may have cleared their outdoor tables but will have fires lit inside and menus filled with porcini, warming soups and other seasonal specialities.

Beyond the towns and cities, the beauty of Tuscany’s countryside is undiminished by winter’s chill. It may be damper and mistier, certainly, but that is all to the good if you are settled into a cosy rural hideaway in Chianti or elsewhere, with the options of walks, cooking classes, truffle hunts, wine tasting and more in a glorious setting. 

Average Florence temperatures in January are 2C-10C and average winter rainfall is a touch more than that of London: around three inches. 

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