Summer is traditionally the most popular time to visit Italy, but we’re here to make an argument in favor of autumn in Tuscany. Autumn means harvest time when many of the country’s most popular food and drinks are produced for the rest of the year. If you plan your trip right, you could be in Italy to witness the harvest process and taste the year’s fresh bounty firsthand. You can enjoy the harvest even while staying in Florence by taking great day trips to rural Tuscany. Read on for our tips about how to make the most of the harvest time in Tuscany during your next trip!
When is harvest time in Tuscany?
It’s not possible to state an exact date for the vendemmia, the harvest; it depends on what the weather has been for the previous year. But, generally, the grape harvest in Tuscany takes place between late September to mid October.
Normally, olives are harvested in November. However in Tuscany, the olive harvest often begins toward the end of September. This earlier harvest time means that the olive hasn’t ripened as much, which means less oil and the special peppery taste of Tuscan olive oils – something that is unique to the region and that Tuscans are very proud of.
What is harvested in Tuscany?
You’ll find many of Italy’s most popular foods during harvest time in Tuscany: truffles, porcini, chestnuts, pumpkins, olives, and, of course, grapes for new wine.
During the harvest season, restaurants will offer specialties that highlight the newly harvested foods. A few famous plates we’d recommend: porcini risotto, pumpkin ravioli, pasta al tartufo and dishes with wild boar.
Try some roasted chestnuts– street vendors sell them in convenient little paper cones for easy snacking as you stroll around!
Are there harvest celebrations?
Yes! We suggest visiting a harvest festival to celebrate the season with the locals.
We recommend the annual wine festival in the city of Greve, in the heart of the Chianti region. This four-day festival usually takes place early in September. You’ll purchase a wine glass for about 10 euros that gives you access to taste up to eight wines from all of the options that are offered at the festa.
One of the most popular annual fairs in the region is the International Market and Fair of the White Truffle in Alba, in the Piedmont region of Italy. The fair lasts for eight weeks and takes place in October and November. In addition to truffles, there are also tastings and vendors selling other harvested delicacies like wine, pasta, cheese, mushrooms and chestnuts.
In November, head to Montemurlo (Prato), just 30 kilometers outside of Florence, to celebrate the olive harvest. This is great for anyone who wants to bring back olive oil as a souvenir; you can taste different types of oil before deciding which one (or which dozen) to bring home.
Where to stay to see the harvest?
We have great options for basing yourself near the harvest activities.
There are several Italy Perfect villas on the La Foce estate, the renowned property in the Val d’Orcia. Here the olive harvest is done the traditional way — by hand. The estate offers special tasting dinners featuring their olive oil varieties all year round when you stay in these renovated farmhouse accommodations including Ronda, Tiglio and Vespa. It is also near to Montepulciano, famous for its Vino Nobile. The town hosts exciting and unique events like the Bravio delle Botti (wine barrel race). The Val d’Orcia a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the heart of the Chianti region, there are some beautiful properties to choose from: Villa Amata, a sweeping property that sleeps up to 16 people and is just a 15-minute drive from Florence. Torretta and Canonica are two of the farmhouses surrounding the Castello Niccolo, a thousand year-old castle. The estate has a large pool and its own wine label! If you are planning ahead, reserve at Castello Niccolo now for 2020 at the 2019 price.
Florence celebrates the harvest, too, and is an excellent base for day trips into the countryside and, of course, savoring all the bounty in its excellent restaurants. See our excellent accommodations in Florence.
As always, we’re happy to help you find the perfect place to stay during the harvest time in Tuscany. Contact us at [email protected] or 1-888-308-6123 to book your trip!