April is the harbinger of Spring, warm temps, outdoor activities and yes, let’s admit it, the promise of summer is right around the corner. The Italians are coming out of hibernation, and marking their calendars with lots of activities celebrating the sun, the colors, the food and the wine. No matter what corner of Tuscany you are planning on visiting this April, you will find that not only will the historical sites and museums will be opening with new hours but the locals will be active with sports, sagras and festivals. For many places the 1 of April initiates the new summer hours taking advantage of the longer daylight hours, so be sure to check the site for updates on museum openings. Join in the fun, take a hike, ride a bike, run a marathon or taste the flavours...it is all great fun.
April Fool’s day shouldn’t catch you unaware in Tuscany - where the Tuscan’s love a good tease and joke. “Pesce d’Aprile,” a game that is played by sticking a paper fish to some’s back (unawares of course) and watching them go about their day...none the wiser. Sooo, watch your back….. Italy celebrates their liberation on the 25th of April and this is considered a national holiday - so though restaurants and cafes will be open - not all supermarkets will be and some museums many change their hours (at the last minute)...be sure to check carefully before going out.
Everything is coming up flowers in Tuscany
As you tour the countryside, you will notice the varying shades of green in the fields, the budding fruit trees and the bouncing daisies along the roadside as you breeze along with your windows slightly open to let in that fresh spring air.
Lucca opens its doors to Verdemure, which translates into the Green walls of Lucca on the 1,2 & 3 of April. Walk the historic city walls and inhale the perfume of 100’s and 100’s of different types of flowers, fruit trees and green plants. This year’s theme celebrates not only the Camelie but also citrus trees and Hepatica, both of which are flowers that are traditionally found within the private gardens of Lucca.
If you head towards Castelnuovo di Garfagnana on April 9-10 Selvaggia, you can search out the wild herbs that traditionally played a fundamental role in the diet of the poor. There will be workshops and excursions to go hunting for these tasty morsels and the possibility to savor some of these special recipes. Gallicano near Lucca will share some of their coveted recipes on April 23, the end result is special soup with secret ingredients that include up to 30 different wild herbs, plants and flavours that spring into being in this period. Take a hike and hunt for the ingredients before coming back to taste the results.
Closer to Florence, at Borgo San Lorenzo on April 16-17, the square explodes with colors and fragrances with the traditional Fiorinfiera. In Terranuova, between Florence and Arezzo, you will find the National Bird Fair from the 2-3 of April, the sweet little songs of these exotic creatures are another sure sign that spring is warming up.
Food is never far from any event in Tuscany
This period is the sign of several new flavours gracing the menus, starting with the Tartufo Marzuolo at Volterra on the 2 & 3 of April. At Rigomagno, close to Siena you can taste a sweet little dessert shaped like a donut at the Sagra del Cimbellino. The weekend of the 9th & 10th invites you to stroll the picturesque vias of Arezzo and taste test the various types of Streetfood ranging from local specialities to American BBQ - and this year, there will be a vegan surprise!
Heading over to Grosseto and you will find the little town of Magliano holding the annual Sagra Lunghino, a special type of hand rolled pasta made from flour and water (21-29 April). In the lovely Val d’Orcia, San Quirico is celebrating the Orcia Wine Festival for 4 lovely days starting on the 22 of April. Check out the program and reserve your spot on one of the many organized tours exploring the vineyards in the area (bike, walking and bus). If you are close to Chiusi della Verna and Casentino, then you need to stop at the Sagra del Boscaiolo, which is includes a hint of mushrooms, truffles and more tasty delicacies that some from the local forests.
Castiglioncello, will be munching down at the Foodies Festival from the 23rd to the 25th of April - so grab your bathing suit and your appetite! But if you are finding it still a bit chilly for a dip then you can head over to Loro Ciuffenna between Florence and Arezzo, and this time bring your fishing pole for the Sagra della Trota - where you can fish it and eat it on the 25th of April. On the 30th of April Grosseto will celebrate the Sagra di Primavera (of the Spring Festival) showing off not only an array of flavours but also the traditions of the Maremma - including the famous butteri (Italian cowboys).
A Month of Sport & Spring
There many activities this month to help you work off all those extra calories you devoured in the food festivals above. Take advantage of the crisp fresh air and the lovely warm temperatures and venture out to explore Tuscany with a bit of sport. In the spectacular Lunigiana area near Lucca there are three rough and rugged running events which count towards the Corrilunigiana award: Montereggio on the 3rd, Serricciolo on the 10th and Sassalbo on the 25th of April.
However, if you are more into splashing around a bit then Grosseto’s event ViviFiume Ombrone will be the perfect fit, enjoy water sports and more on the 9 & 10th of April. In Chianciano Terme you can explore the unique val d’Orcia hills with their event Vespa a Primavera: tour the back roads on the iconic Vespa and the breeze in your hair (not really because you do have to wear a helmet.) Monteriggioni has organized an event on the 10th of April following the footsteps of Sigerico, whose diary established the now hikable via Francigena.
A totally unique opportunity starts on the 10th of April with the guided tour of Giannutri, a spectacular island (and prison) open to the public. (This will be an ongoing event so check out future dates.) You need to reserve in advance, and the service includes the boat ride and tour guide. A bit inland, but just as enchanting is the visit to the gardens around Villa “La Vagnola” near Cetona, free entrance but you do need to reserve your place for the 16th of April. Collesalvetti is organizing three days(23 April) of trekking on” 6 legs” (you and a mule for company!) while camping in the Riserva Naturale della Tenuta Bellavista Inuese,
Fairs, Festivals and Markets
But no worries, if sweating doesn’t enter into your list of activities, you can still enjoy the many markets, fairs and events all over Tuscany starting with the famous Antique Market in the city of Arezzo on the 2nd and 3rd of April. However, if you are staying closer to Florence you can head to Fiesole for their version of the Antique Fair on the 3rd. The first Sunday of the month means all of the State Museums are open for free - so take advantage to visit some of those more hidden treasures like the Certosa di Calci.
Panzano in Chianti has their annual Mercato Aprilante with household goods, clothing and local products on the 3rd. Explore the exciting Medieval Carnival at San Casciano on the 3rd, where they dress in custom and enjoy parades and local fare. Didn’t make the antiques fair in the beginning of the month? well, Tavernelle gives you a second chance on the 10th with their annual event Tavarenlle si mette in Mostra and closeby in the Chianti area, you can stop at San Casciano with their Festa della Primvera (Spring Festival on the 10th).
On the weekend of the 16th it is all fun and games. Chianciano has their annual Tattoo Kermesse, a festival where you can go and view some of the best in the sector...and maybe get a bit of color for yourself! Empoli has their incredibly fun Ludicomix, a festival of games and activities featuring Lego bricks and more. And for more than 28 hours of fun, Prato will kick of the season with a Notte Bianco; an evening, night and morning filled with music and activities (the 16th at 5pm till the 17th at 9pm).
Grosseto has its annual Fiera del Madonnino on the 22 to the 25th of April, after 38 years this fair has become part of the local color with lots to buy ranging from kitchen goods to tractors and of course a selection of local culinary treats. Last chance for those looking for antiques - both Impruneta near Florence (25 April to May 1) and the enchanting city of Arezzo (special opening only for the 25th) will have a Festa dell Antiquariato. For those looking to clap their hands and join in the music, Pescia will be loud and boisterous at SaràBanda, a festival of street music on the 25th of April.
Closing the month with a typical Tuscan tradition is Canti del Maggio, though the name suggests May, the events will take place on the 29th and 30th of April. Montereggio invites you to come and follow the impromptu singers as they serenade the locals or you can stop at Santa Fiora in the province of Grosseto for this event deeply rooted in the culture that dates back centuries: the musical band “Maggiaioli” will be visiting all the houses while singing traditional songs for the entertainment of all locals.