Beyond beaches and bathing suits
By the time summer in Tuscany rolls around, most residents and visitors make a beeline for the coastline, seeking refuge from big crowds and blazing temperatures. Truth be told, though, you'll find both of those things beachside, too. Beyond this conundrum, there are plenty of exciting reasons to stay put in the landlocked cities (or take part in something in a beach town that doesn't require putting on a swimsuit). Summer is a vibrant season in the region with food festivals, folkloric rituals, historical re-enactments and much more. Here are some highlights to look forward to, year after year.
The Palio di Siena
iconic Tuscan event, not exactly for the faint of heart! a horse race featured in numerous films; its venue is the cinematic Piazza del Campo which adds a heightened level of drama to the proceedings. Taking place every year on July 2 and August 16, the Palio's roots go back as far as the 11th century, when the race was first launched to celebrate Saint Mary of the Assumption as protectress of the city in their conflicts with the Florentines. Racers (besides the horses themselves) represent the various contrade, or historic neighborhoods of the city. Siena in summertime is still worth a visit; you'll be able to enjoy related events and plenty of Palio-centered pomp and circumstance even if you can't watch the race itself. Info: ilpalio.org/
Lucca Summer festival
Musical greats past and present take the stage at this top-of-the-line concert series. Most concerts of Lucca Summer Festival take place in the tree-lined piazza Napoleone, one of the charming city's main squares and a hub of activity and social life year-round.
Food and arts in Carrara
A rich programme of initiatives and events “for all tastes in marble” in the name of art, culture and “Made in Carrara” food and wine. Music, visual art, sculptural installations and quality gourmet food and drinks come together to create a lively show.
Montepulciano: Bravio delle Botti
is a 1.8km barrel race like nothing you've ever seen. Competitively speaking, just consider it Montepulciano's take on the Palio. Athletes representing the town's historic neighborhoods train for months in advance to push heavy barrels up twisting cobblestone streets, ultimately ending up in piazza Grande.
Calici di stele
In Tuscany, you never run out of excuses to raise your glass. Calici di Stelle is an annual, Italy-wide wine event that coincides with the peak of the Perseids meteor shower, typically marked on the Night of San Lorenzo on 11.August .For the occasion, wineries all over Tuscany open up for tastings.
Cortona on the Move
A photography festival for the ages, Cortona on the Move has considerable international clout, having hosted top-tier artists from around the world for many summers now. Temporary exhibitions by both established and emerging photographers run throughout the summer (July and August, with some extending into the fall), and are set up not just in the festival's main venues but in various side streets and corners of the city.
Festambiente in the Maremma
Green-focused and family-friendly, the Festambiente is where sustainability takes center stage. An initiative of the Italian environmental advocacy organization Legambiente
it highlights the joy found in protecting and loving our planet through a range of activities and events appropriate for all ages. Organic markets, concerts, nature excursions and more ensure that you get the most you can out of the wild Maremma region while you're there – this event typically takes place against the stunning setting of the Natural Park of the Maremma.