1. Witness Italian folklore and the Celebration of La Befana
(5th and 6th January)
On the twelfth night of Christmas on the eve of the Epiphany (5th of January) when the Christmas tree and decorations are officially taken down and packed away, Italians get ready to celebrate the arrival of a friendly old witch known as La Befana.
Steeped in folklore with similarities to that of the story of Santa Claus, La Befana flies through the night sky on her broomstick and enters down the chimney pots into the homes of children to leave them a present or a lump of coal.
Many towns celebrate the coming of La Befana where they host spectacular displays of artistry and fun. This is a night when you will witness La Befana flying through the night skies on her broomstick to the delight of the kids below. The adults also get involved by dressing up as the friendly old witch to hand out sweet treats to the children.
A crazy tradition takes place at Marina di Pisa known as the ‘Tuffo di Befana’. Tuffo translates as a ‘dip in the water’ and in this case the water is the Mediterranean Sea! This celebration is mainly an adult affair which kicks off with the arrival of the La Befana (an adult dressed up as the old witch) just before midday on January 6th. Participants are usually residents from the seaside town of Marina di Pisa and the nearby port city of Livorno who come together as friends for this event due to their mutual love of the sea. However, for the rest of the year they are great rivals when it involves any other event such as football!
Anyone can join in the event and is invited to strip down to their Speedos or bikini and join in the fun!
Free entrance for those who want to dip!
2. Enjoy the snow or a day on the slopes!
In just under 2 hours, you can reach the Tuscan ski resort of Abetone on the Italian Apennines, the perfect destination for nature and winter sports lovers. The ski resort has 50 km of ski slopes which offer every participant whatever their level a chance to enjoy a day of skiing. Snowboarders and cross country skiers can also take advantage of the facilities and trails. For those who don’t fancy getting active but are looking to experience a different side of Tuscany, head for one of the picturesque Appinine villages such as Cutigliano to witness a charming Medieval village surrounded by snow covered hills making it the perfect spot for a traditional Appinine lunch or a warming punch!
3. Shop til you drop! Outlet shopping and the January sales
(early January to end of February)
For fashion conscious and label loving shopaholics, Italy is the best place to shop. And what better time to do so than during the winter sales. Afterall, who wants to search out bargains in the stifling heat during the summer! The winter sales period starts at the beginning of January and lasts through mid-February.
In addition to the regular high street shops, Tuscany has many outlets offering an array of designer clothes and accessories from Gucci to Prada and Armani . There are big famous outlets dotted around Tuscany such as the ones at Barberino di Mugello and the Mall at Reggello but you can also find smaller outlets in some small towns. In addition to pointing you in the right direction we can also put you in touch with professional shoppers who can help you negotiate around the outlets.
4. It’s carnival time! Enjoy Fantastic floats at Viareggio
(dates vary but usually between the end of January through to end of February)
The seaside town of Viareggio in the Province of Lucca (not too far from all of our properties) holds one of Italy’s biggest carnivals which dates back to 1873. The event draws thousands of visitors of all ages, who come to see both the spectacular floats and parades which take place over a series of weekends.
The big draw is the giant papier mâché figures which adorn the floats many of which are mechanized and dance above the crowds. The carnival is both an adult and children’s affair which runs throughout the afternoon and into the night with parties and festivities up to the early hours. Dressing up in costume is not obligatory but you may feel more at home if you wear a festive carnival mask, neon coloured wig or a silly hat all of which can be bought at one of the many carnival stalls.
The preparations for the event take place throughout the whole year and is very much part of the culture of the town. People travel from all over Tuscany and Italy to witness this colourful and fun event.
In addition to Viareggio Carnival, many small towns and villages celebrate carnival time over the weekends during the period of Lent. Many of the events are aimed at children where it is almost obligatory for children to dress up in costume, ride the merry go rounds, indulge in lots of sticky sweets and throw Coriandolo (which is similar to what we call Confetti).
5. Visit the sites without the queues!
Visit the museums, galleries and monuments without the crowds and queues.
The perfect time to visit the cities of art and culture is from November through to February when the streets are crowd free and the summer heat has gone. All the major sites will be open at this time of year such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia in Florence, in addition to much more. No need to book your tickets in advance or stand in queues which go on for hours to enjoy these amazing sites almost all to yourself!
6. Pamper and relax at natural hot springs
(all year round)
Tuscany is a land of Terme meaning a land of natural thermal springs. There are at least two to three Terme within a 30 minute drive from almost all of our properties.
You don’t have to be rich to go to the ‘spa’, in fact here in Tuscany most people visit the spa in winter time and you can even get a spa visit prescribed by your doctor!
The Terme or spas vary between luxury 5 star resorts with a plethora of pampering treatments to village centre spas with public open air pools with soothing massage jets. If you are prepared to travel (between two and a half to three hours) you could experience the thermal cascading waterfalls at Saturnia in the Province of Grossetto or south of Siena at Bagni San Filippo at the Fosso Bianco. Here are the closest Terme and spas to our properties:
7. Indulge in wine tours and gastronomic experiences
Take a hike through the stunning Tuscan countryside with an experienced truffle hunter and his dog in search of the prestige truffle! Upon return after your hunt you will enjoy a truffle tasting lunch of 4 courses with regional wine.
Truffle hunting is available all year round but if you are looking to hunt the precious white truffle you need to visit between September and December. The rest of the year you will be able to hunt the black truffle
Wine tours (all year round)
Wine tasting tours are a firm favourite and are available all year round, however during the winter season the wine producers are a little less busy and able to spend more time showing you around the vineyards and cellars in addition to offering tasting sessions.
Wine tasting tours are available all year round but during the winter the wine producers are a little less busy and able to spend more time showing you around the vineyards and cellars in addition to offering tasting sessions.
Extra virgin olive oil experience (all year round)
A much loved favourite experience of many of our guests which can be enjoyed all year round and includes a visit around the olive groves and mill, followed by a tasting session. However, if you really want to witness the whole process of the production of extra virgin olive oil you must visit between October to December to see the harvest in full swing and the olive press in action!
Cooking Classes (all year round)
8. Take a Romantic break for Valentines Day
Being not too far from Pisa Airport means that many of our properties are perfectly situated for weekend or midweek breaks. In most cases you will be out of the airport and into your property in less than an hour. Tuscany is the perfect location for couples looking to escape the winter blues. Here’s some ideas!
- Stay in one of our romantic apartments perfect for two
- Hire an iconic Fiat Cinquecento to explore the dreamy countryside
- Visit the cities of Pisa, Florence and Lucca
- Sip Chianti wine from where the grape is grown
- Dine on Truffles, enjoy oysters and sip Prosecco by the sea
- Experience a gastronomic or wine tour with private driver
- Cook a Tuscan meal for two with a local chef