Tuscany in February

I will be visiting my daughter who just started a semester abroad in Florence in February. We are planning on being there for 7 days. Anyone have any thoughts on whether it is worth it to spend a day or two in the Tuscan countryside that time of year and if so have any suggestions on what town or towns to go to or places that maybe open that time of year

Hi Alan
Sorry, no experience of Tuscany at that time of year. All the towns/villages will clearly be open, and it’s not uncommon for January to be listed as closing month for restaurants (across Italy), so I reckon February will be slightly better for restaurant availability. As for tourist sites, I’d check each individually. I know that the Montepulciano wine tasting tours are very much ‘summer’ season, but maybe the cellar door shops in town remain open.

Normally at that time of year I’d be looking towns or cities only, just because it’s easy to stroll around them of an evening with the lights on, whereas one great draw of the countryside is seeing it colourful (and in daylight!). The limited hours of daylight will reduce the benefits of this option.

I reckon there are 3 obvious options:

  1. Stay the week in countryside near to Florence, so it’s easy to get in by car or perhaps bus/taxi/train, but by being outside it makes it much easier for you to practically use a car. You can venture out on some day trips.
  2. Stay solely in Florence or a combo of Florence plus a Siena or Lucca or similar, and don’t bother with a car
  3. Stay 3-4 days in Florence, then hire a car to spend 2-3 days out in the countryside. As well as places listed in the local tourist office, also well worth a look at agriturismo.it for farmstays, especially the ones providing evening meals. The joy of this is you can venture out during the daylight, have a light lunch once the lunchtime closing kicks in, then go for a scenic drive, or stroll round a normally touristy location such as San Gimignano and enjoy it when quieter.

One key thought, is do you mind driving in the dark in an unfamiliar setting, with unfamiliar road signs / layout etc? We’re not so comfortable, so aim to head back to the accommodation before it gets dark, but this does rather restrict what we see/do because of the lunchtime closing (~ 1-4pm). I often ends up as just a morning really, and this can require a bit of discipline to get up early enough to make that worthwhile.

If staying in the countryside, I’d definitely look at ‘trading up’ to somewhere I wouldn’t mind ‘hanging around’ be that with interesting walking nearby, lovely room/suite/apartment or with something else there that appeals e.g. sauna etc.

I hope this helps - not very specific I’m afraid.


Thanks Ian this was very helpful. I’ll probably go with approach #2 stay mostly in Florence and maybe venture for a day to one of the closer places


Hi. We spent the week between Christmas and New Years in Florence. The hotel arranged for a driver/guide for two day trips in Tuscany. He was quite knowledgeable and personally knew many of the wine makers. We visited four wineries. At the last winery, which was also a cooking school, we were their last tour of 2016. After New Years they were heading to Tunisia. They made the best lasagna I have ever had. No tomato sauce or mozzarella – just bolognaises sauce and béchamel. The driver’s contact information is: Alessandro Demi – +39 338 3154347 – demi.Alessandria@alice.it . I was surprised all the wineries had warehouses in the US and shipping wine was not a problem. Sienna and Lucca are each fairly close and each are worth a day trip.

Siena and Lucca are each less than 90 minutes by municipal bus from Florence. I’ve driven in/out of and parked in Florence, Siena, and Lucca numerous times and all three are a pain in the ass to drive into (especially with ZTLs) and park.

…and do give serious consideration to the buses. Unlike the trains they go ‘centre’ to ‘centre’ with sometimes convenient other stops. There are good services across Tuscany.

My first bit of advice it to dress warmly. It can be chilly and windy in the winter there. I spent some very cold days there once in late October, and I’ve made some very cold visits to Venice, Piemonte and Provence in the winter. It would be easy to picture sunny, balmy Tuscany from the other three seasons and think it’s that way in February.

Good point. Florence is a city and, with the central pedestrian zone and one-way streets, it’s not always easy to get in and out. Lucca has its earthen wall, and you generally have to park outside that, which is a bit of a hike. A bus between Lucca and Florence makes a lot of sense. And I would highly recommend Lucca.

Siena is easier, in my experience. I’ve stayed their twice with cars. There are municipal parking lots not that far from the center. And if you want to visit the wine areas (Chianti and Montalcino and Montepulciano), you’ll need a car and Siena is a good base for that.