October 29, 2014, 05:17 PM
Winter 2014 in Tuscany
I am going to Florence on 24 Dec and staying there until 8th January. I have been to Florence before and already covered a few sights - Uffizi Gallery, The Academy etc... I already had a day trip to Sienna too.
I would like other great alternatives to do during this winter:
1. Christmas: Any interesting activities for Christmas (24 and 25 Dec)? Like special/atmospheric church service in a beautiful/iconic cathedral or quirky church, nice choir etc?
2. New Years Evening: what are the options for new years evening celebration? I would like something authentic, outdoors with a good vibe. Not really a commercial restaurant party. Happy to go somewhere outside Florence.
3. Short trips outside Florence: I love the arts and was planning to visit the Tarot Gardens, but I think it's closed over winter! What other special places we can visit outside Florence during the winter?
I have free accommodation during all my stay in Florence, so I rather have one days trips, to save on hotels... but happy to stay in a hotel for 2-3 nights if worth visiting distant places.
I'm 33, travelling with a friend, we love the arts, nature, little hidden gems that only locals know about it, good food and wine. We can drive and willing to hire a car for a few days too.
October 30, 2014, 05:22 PM
Sounds like you will have a lovely time with your friend, especially revisiting places you've already seen in one way or another already.
Day trips: Lucca, Pisa, San Gimignano... another day in Siena to see places you might have missed (see this suggested itinerary http://www.discovertuscany.com/itine...-in-siena.html
), a day in Arezzo. Since it is the holiday season, you will get a chance to experience the whole region in a different season that you might have occasion for earlier. There are markets, many with Christmas items only available at this time of year. For specific dates and times, you'll have to check back on our blog closer to the dates you'll be traveling as we generally post that sort of "time-specific" info on there.
Other outdoor parks with sculpture as the tarot garden but closer to Florence - look into the Chianti Sculpture Park
as well as the Fattoria di Celle right outside Pistoia:
(this second one requires special requests to visit, so look into it if it looks interesting for you).
December 24th - most things remain open, with maybe closings a little earlier...
December 25th - almost all museums are closed, there are some exceptions.
All churches will be having services, likely the nicest one will be in the cathedral... but more interesting might be the one at San Miniato, where they also have mass in Gregorian chant (the services at 10am and 5:30pm). Expect a quiet day, with most of your time walking around and enjoying sights from outside.
December 31st - the larger towns in Tuscany, such as Florence and Siena, plan outdoor concerts in the evening and lasting until at least 1 or 2am. These are held in the main squares of the towns. Fireworks included, people take their bottle of bubbly along and plastic cups to ring in the new year on the street.
Some restaurants also organize closed number of dinner+party until after midnight, but not all. These include even the small trattoria, so not "super commercial" as many are family-owned, small places. The smaller ones will provide a more authentic experience, but not all have "outdoors" included. What you have to find first is really the restaurant you like... reservations for these have to be made ahead of time. How to know which ones? This is hard as they are not publicized. Most you just end up seeing flyers on their windows the week or two before the end of the year with the proposed menu and cost, so once you're in Florence, take note as you walk around. And ask at where you're staying, as the local neighborhood might have something going on.
If we find out about special openings or special events, we'll post about them on our blog and our events calendar (for Florence here and for Tuscany here), so keep those two pages bookmarked and come back closer to the dates to check up... also follow us on Facebook to keep updated ;-)