Thanks to its famous cuisine, scenic hilltop villages, rolling hills, and rich history, Tuscany makes a pretty compelling case for a vacation destination. It has a sizeable expat community drawn from Europe and North America that helps provide a soft landing for the millions of tourists from across the world visiting each year. Yet, as with anywhere else, the quality of your Tuscany experience will significantly depend on the knowledge you gather about the area before your arrival. The beauty of a vacation is the element of surprise, but that’s only as long as the surprise is a pleasant one. So here’s a look at some of the things you should expect when visiting Tuscany.
1 Accommodation Can Be Expensive
Overall, accommodation in Tuscany is relatively expensive. Nevertheless, Tuscany is quite diverse, and hotel rates will vary across towns and regions. Siena and Florence are pricier than most, whereas eastern Tuscany is ideal for budget travelers. How much you pay will also depend on what type of accommodation you are looking for. If you are going for Luxury Retreats and high-end hotels, you can expect to pay top dollar. But if you don’t mind staying in hostels and similarly backpacker-oriented venues, then you can get by with spending a lot less.
2 Abhor Touristy Crowds? No Problem.
Siena, Pisa, and Florence are gorgeous in the summer. That is good news but also bad news. It’s bad news because you won’t be the only one drawn to these destinations. They are the quintessential tourist traps and attract unbearable crowds in the peak season. Fortunately, Tuscany gives you plenty of opportunities to flee from these famous sights. You can easily find somewhere quieter and cheaper. Numerous villages and towns are virtually untouched by mass tourism, and some may even feel eerily quiet. Of course, getting away from the tourist crowds comes with the risk of feeling isolated as you find yourself as one of the few foreigners in a village. If you don’t mind that, then Tuscany can be a paradise of sorts.
3 Traffic and Pollution
The traffic in Florence is notoriously stifling with parking space incredibly difficult to land on. This is one of the sources of pollution as cars have to circle for a while as they look for available space. But if traffic is a mainstay of city living, what will probably surprise you the most is seeing factories belching out clouds of smoke deep in the otherwise beautiful Tuscany countryside.
4 Perfect Place to Learn Italian
Looking for a crash course in Italian without having to pay for it? There’s arguably no better place to learn the language than Tuscany. Central Tuscany is the official birthplace of what is today referred to as the Italian language. It’s here that Dante Alighieri formalized the local language in writing. Many people come from across the world to enroll in Italian language university courses. Note, however, that the Italian you’ll encounter in the streets may be markedly different from what is taught in classrooms. In everyday conversation, you’ll have to get acquainted with not just Italian but also the local dialect Fiorentino.
5 Your Wine Cup Will Overflow
Few places in the world are as close to being ‘wine heaven’ as Tuscany. If you love your wine, Tuscany will be a dream come true. Whether you prefer the strong drinks or are drawn to a Cortona Syrah or Brunello di Montalcino, you can easily spend years at the various vineyards and wine tastings without ever getting bored. And if you have the time as well as a penchant for adventure, you could even explore the possibility of making your wine.
6 Temperature Extremes
In the summer, it isn’t unusual for temperatures to touch 40 degrees Celsius. And since many visitors come to Tuscany in the summer, they may assume that it’s warm and sunny all year. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you visit during the colder seasons, you can expect plenty of wind, rain, fog, and sometimes snow. That old stone house in the Tuscan countryside that was so perfect in the summer can easily feel like a refrigerator.
It’s hard to develop a list that’s comprehensive enough to capture what you can expect when you visit Tuscany. What’s important, though, is to go with the flow and relax. You’re on vacation, after all.