If you are headed to Tuscany in October, you’re in for a treat. Temperatures are mild, truffles and mushrooms make an appearance on the menu, and the vineyards and woods are alive with rich reds, burnt oranges and yellows.
October is a delicious month in Tuscany. And because all table-related things are taken very seriously around here, all the October fruits – like chestnuts, mushrooms and truffles – are celebrated in style. It’s hunting season now, so sauces with wild boar and hare are on the menu. And while the new wine is fermenting in barrels, people are celebrating the start of the autumn season before the olive harvest in early November.
Here we take a look at a few of our favourite October destinations and the best festivals & events around the region. From local sagre to a ‘cheese race’ and a great Tuscany-inspired Halloween party.
Tuscany in October – Where to go
If cities and towns like Florence, Siena or Pisa are year-round destinations, in October you have the benefit of enjoying all the attractions & museums with fewer people around. But it’s Lucca in particular that offers a great spectacle in October, when the trees surrounding the town’s centre turn a beautiful shade of orangey yellow. ⇒ See our Lucca photographic journey.
Woods are wonderful in October, full of the colours of autumn and its earthy scents. Head to the north of the region to find the best examples, in the verdant mountainous areas of Garfagnana and Lunigiana, or drive around the Mugello north of Florence.
But it’s Casentino in Eastern Tuscany that steals the autumn show. The National Park Foreste Casentinesi in the Apennines, is the best place for fall foliage viewing. In the park they organise walking tours to the most spectacular spots. The end of October and beginning of November are the best times. (for more info see the official site).
If you like your walks, October is a good month to get out into nature. Follow the Via Francigena in Tuscany and you’ll be rewarded with great countryside views and ancient small hamlets to discover, in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims. ⇒ See the Tuscan stretches on the Via Francigena.
On this Taste of Chianti Tour from Florence you’ll explore the scenic Chianti wine region with a local guide, and savour some of Tuscany’s finest wine, cheese, meat and more! You’ll be touring the countryside, visit an historic villa, and a Chianti Classico winery. Plus Lunch in a traditional restaurant.
October Tuscany Events
If you love your food, then you’ll love October in Tuscany. You need to try the seasonal specialities to really get into the spirit of autumn. Luckily you’ll find many sagre, or food festivals, around the region.
FOLLOWING THE CHESTNUTS’ SCENT
Would you like to get in on the chestnut mania? Your choices are endless. Head to the Chestnut Fair in Marradi and Palazzuolo sul Senio (every week end in October) in the Mugello area. Or choose the Arezzo province: in the small hamlet of Caprese Michelangelo (usually the last two weekend of October, 19th-20th and 26th-27th October 2019), where Michelangelo Buonarroti was born.
In the province of Siena, in the Mount Amiata area, the area is devoted to the ‘marroni’, a local variety of chestnut. Campiglia d’Orcia every year organises the Festa del Marrone on the last Sunday of October, where the village dresses up in festive colours and you can taste typical dishes and treats of all sorts.
On the slopes of Mount Amiata, Abbadia San Salvadore has a great Festa d’Autunno (on the 2nd and 3rd Sunday) celebrating not only chestnuts but also mushrooms and local products with plenty of food stands for every taste. Piancastagnaio boasts the most ancient of chestnut festivals, the “Crastatone” (31st October – 1st November 2019).
=> Discover all the Chestnut Festivals in Tuscany
OCTOBER EVENTS IN THE CHIANTI
Every year the small town of Impruneta celebrates the beloved Fiera di San Luca (12th-20th October 2019). This fair has been coming to Impruneta since the Middle Ages, when merchants and shepherds would meet to buy and sell livestock and related products such as cheese and wool. Throughout the centuries the fair grew in importance and size. Personalities including the Medici family would join the party. Today it offers visitors a lively week full of events, traditional games and a big market where you find everything from clothes to typical local specialities.
If you’re the active type, you might want to have a look at L’Eroica in Gaiole in Chianti. This is a non-competitive vintage bike race along the strade bianche (or unpaved country roads) of the Chianti. See the official site for information about the routes.
The Ecomaratona del Chianti (18-20 October 2019) is another great way to get fit while exploring the scenic rolling hills of the Chianti, with three trails (42k, 21k, 13k) – Check the official site
“BOCCACESCA” Food Festival in Certaldo
The Medieval hilltop town of Certaldo hosts the traditional Boccaccesca Food & Wine Festival (21st edition, from 4th to 6th October 2019): this year food and music will go hand in hand with cooking shows, live music, and tasting experiences at the food stalls. (Official site for full program)
“PALIO DEI CACI” in Volterra
On the last Sunday of October 2019 Volterra plays a traditional and tasty game, the Palio dei Caci or ‘cheese wheel rolling competition’. The locally produced cheese becomes the main attraction of this entertaining ‘race’, where participants from the different districts of the town, all decked out in historic costumes, chase the cheeses down Volterra’s narrow streets, trying to get around the hay bales and finish the race first.
Truffle Festival in Barberino di Mugello
On the last weekend of October the town of Barberino di Mugello (north of Florence) hosts the Truffle Festival (Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco e Nero del Mugello), showcasing the excellent local truffle varieties. (this year on 26th and 27th October 2019).
Halloween in Borgo a Mozzano
For Halloween in Tuscany, Borgo a Mozzano is the place to be. What better location for a ghostly festival than a bridge built by the devil himself: the Ponte della Maddalena or Devil’s Bridge? This village near Lucca hosts a popular Halloween festival every year, where hundreds of people get dressed up like zombies and all sorts of creatures of the dark. Vampire-themed games, ghost experiment and a horror tunnel. Pretty serious stuff. (official site)
⇒ Halloween is the perfect time to explore the Dark Side of Tuscany.
Weather & Temperatures in October
The weather in Tuscany in October is still quite mild, with plenty of sunny days and an average of 9 days of rain. Temperatures range from a max of 21° C (69° F) during the day to a minimum of 9° C (48° F) at night. Sun rises at 6:30am and sunset 5:30pm.
During the day if it’s sunny you can wear a light jacket, while in the evening you might need to add a light jumper. If you’re planning a visit to mountainous areas or if you’re staying in the countryside, consider that in the evening it gets a bit colder than in the towns, so you might need a heavier jumper or coat. Temperatures go down towards the end of the month. Layers are the key.
⇒ Discover the best Autumn destinations in Italy!
Fiera San Luca, Impruneta – photo credit: gazzettinodelchianti.com