The rolling hills of Tuscany, adorned with its trademark cypress trees, stunning sunflower fields, vineyards and timeless architecture, is a marvellous travel destination, no matter the season.
Towards the end of August, temperatures are dropping, travellers are heading home, the annual tourist circuit seems to be expired, which may be true for the rest of Italy although Tuscany in September is abuzz with cultural events, culinary delights and perfectly temperate weather.
At the height of summer, the Tuscan sun can be scorching. Though during September, the daily average is a comfortable 26 degrees Celsius, making sightseeing and strolling down cobbled streets a pleasantry. At night the air becomes cool, though nothing an extra layer can’t contend with.
The change in weather and waning summer days are indicative of Tuscany’s most exciting and important time of year, grape harvest! A time worn tradition that is a cornerstone of Italian economy, society and culture. The harvesting of the famous Tuscan Sangiovese grape, among others, yields locally prized and internationally acclaimed wines, such as the Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino.
The labour of grape harvesting has not changed a great deal since Viticulture was conceived by the Etruscans in the 8th century BC. Grapes are picked by hand, and delivered to local artisan winemakers whom ply their delicate trade to produce the prized Vino Rosso.
Visitors to Tuscany can experience a harvest firsthand; working on an Agriturismo farm, picking grapes and learning about the process of turning the grapes into wine.
Though if you prefer consumption over hard work, the prized wines are sampled and celebrated at a number of festivals throughout Tuscany during and after the harvest season. Such as the Rassegna del Chianti Classico, where a glass is purchased at the beginning of the day and the rest of the afternoon is spent sampling locally produced wines.
Tuscany during the harvest season is truly a special time, anticipated by locals, wine makers and admirers of culture.
On the first Sunday of September, the annual Cacio al Fuso festival is held in the town of Pienza, celebrating their famous Pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese, which is among the best in Italy. The Pienza people claim their cheese derives its taste from the precarious and unrivalled blend of grass and wild herbs, which the sheep graze on freely. A wide range of cheese can be sampled and purchased and the hallmark of the festival is a cheese rolling competition.
The September festivities in Tuscany go beyond culinary appreciation; Tuscany’s rich heritage is celebrated and relived at festivals throughout the region.
The medieval town of Arezzo dates back to the 5th century BC and was recognized by the ancient Roman historian, Titus Livius, as being one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities.
Arezzo’s rich history is celebrated on the first Sunday of September, at the Giostra del Saracino festival. In the 16th and 17th centuries a jousting tournament was held regularly in Arezzo as a military training exercise; though it declined throughout the centuries until the tradition disappeared completely. It was revived in the early 20th century as a celebration of Arezzo’s history, and is now the hallmark event of the annual festival. The joust is proceeded by a display of banners, horns, brightly coloured costumes and a blessing of the men at arms on the steps of the town’s Duomo, by the Bishop of Arezzo.