Tuscany is one of those places that have a special feel in Autumn. Fall foliage viewing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tuscany, but I assure you, if you know where to look, the colours of Autumn make this region quite spectacular, adding some extra charm to its picturesque towns and landscapes.
Here we go in search of the best places in Tuscany for Fall Colours viewing, from magnificent forests, nature reserves and ravishing countryside views.
Where to enjoy Autumn Colours in Tuscany
Let’s start from the much-talked-about Chianti region. Popular with wine enthusiasts, dotted with Medieval hamlets and blessed with unbeatable scenic views, the Chianti is one of Tuscany’s best places to be when Fall arrives. As Autumn paints the rolling hills in warm shades, the vineyards turn orange and yellow, with nuances of burned red. At this time of year, Tuscany’s famous wine region becomes a true paradise for photographers, artists and romantic souls.
For wine lovers, the vino novello (new wine) might be another reason to visit the Chianti in Autumn => check out 10 Unmissable Experiences in Tuscany for wine enthusiasts, including top Wine tasting and festivals.
Foreste Casentinesi National Park
One of Italy’s top spots for foliage viewing is the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, in the Casentino area. This forested area is in north-eastern Tuscany, on the Apennines near the border with Emilia Romagna. This is a magical place for nature lovers, who come here to enjoy the peace and unspoilt beauty of these ancient forests. In Autumn the vast beech woods are alive with fiery reds and gold, making the visit even more special.
Where to go for the most colourful woods? One of the most scenic points is the Lama Forest – at the base of the Mount Penna. You can combine some foliage viewing with a visit to the Camaldoli Hermitage, a place of spirituality and quiet recollection. Or explore the monumental wood of beech, maple and fir trees that surrounds La Verna, the Franciscan Sanctuary that is one of the most suggestive sacred places in Tuscany.
=> See the Best of Casentino Itinerary
Garfagnana, between the Apennines and the Apuan Alps
More colourful woods and peaks in the Garfagnana area, in northern Tuscany. In this mountainous region – that lies between the main ridge of the Northern Apennines and the Apuan Alps – the traveller finds stone hamlets, caves, hermitages on rocky outcrops, remains of ancient fortresses. And beautiful woods and forests that embrace it all, where autumn shows off/brings its charming palette.
Some scenic spots for foliage viewing in the Garfagnana: Isola Santa, a tiny fairy-tale hamlet on the shore of a little lake, the Orecchiella Park (perfect for easy trekking, also for families) and the Bosco del Fatonero, a great beech tree wood (at 1400 mt. altitude, on the Mount Fiocca) where many legends originated. Easy to see how the elf baffardello (one of the local legendary creatures) can find its home here and play tricks to anyone who doesn’t respect these magnificent trees.
Vallombrosa Nature Reserve
Half an hour by car from Florence, you find a beautiful spot for foliage viewing and a day out in the woods. It’s the Vallombrosa Nature Reserve that surrounds the Benedictine Abbey of the same name. Vallombrosa is a popular destination for families that come here from Florence to look for cool air during Summertime and to see the beautiful woods come Autumn.
Firs and beech trees grow in the highest altitudes, and then chestnut, oak and maple trees populate the nature reserve, whose name Vallombrosa means “shaded valley“. Towering over the area is Mount Secchieta. A great place for hiking with trails for different levels.
=> A curiosity: in these woods you find Italy’s tallest tree. Vallombrosa is home to a biogenetic reserve with species from different countries, like Douglas Firs from north America. To see these giants, follow the “Anello dei Giganti” (Giants’ Ring) trail – it’s an easy hike, length: 3,7 kms.
Alto Mugello Woods for more Fall Foliage viewing
The vast beech woods in the Upper Mugello put on a good show during the Autumn months. This area has a great net of hiking trails for all levels, with beautiful chestnut, oak and beech trees.
Highlights include the small town of Palazzuolo sul Senio, with its picturesque stone houses, the Giogo-Casaglia Park around Firenzuola (where you can see the ancient seccatoi, stone edifices/cabins where chestnuts are kept to dry), and Marradi, the hot spot for Tuscany’s high-quality chestnut production.
Lucca, a Walk on the City Wall – Urban Foliage viewing
The town of Lucca is a great place to be at any time of year. With its charming squares, welcoming atmosphere, historic sights like the Medieval Cathedral and Guinigi Tower, it’s a town that conquers all hearts.
But in Autumn there’s another reason to visit Lucca: a stroll on its walls offers a unique spectacle, with the Linden and Plane trees that frame the town in shades of warm orange and burned yellow. Lucca’s walls, once an impressive structure to defend the city from invaders, have in fact been converted into a 4 km-long park around the city for unique scenic views => see our Photographic journey through Lucca’s many charms.
=> Top 8 Things to do in Lucca during your visit
When to see Autumn Colours in Tuscany
When is the time for Fall Foliage in Tuscany? The foliage season runs from mid-October to mid-November. Depending on the year, it might start a bit later. The peak usually falls in late October/early November, when visitors can see the whole palette of colours.
=> Check out some amazing Picturesque Villages in Tuscany