By Rick Steves and Gene Openshaw
Tuscany's best travel months (also its busiest and most expensive) are April, May, June, September, and October. These months combine the convenience of peak season with pleasant weather.
June is especially festive in the area, with parades, dances, and games in Florence for the feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24 each year). The week before (on June 16 and 17), Pisa is lit up for Feast of St. Ranieri, with fireworks, candles on the river, and a regatta.
The most grueling thing about travel in Tuscany is the summer heat in July and August, when temperatures hit the high 80s and 90s. Most midrange hotels come with air-conditioning — a worthwhile splurge in the summer — but it's often available only from June through September. August is vacation time for Italians, with cities emptying out for a week before and two weeks after the August 15 Ferragosto holiday (marking the Assumption of Mary). City hotels consider this period low season.
In April and October, you'll generally need a sweater or light jacket in the evening. In winter the temperatures can drop to the 40s or 50s. Off-season has none of the sweat and stress of the tourist season, but sights may have shorter hours, lunchtime breaks, and fewer activities. Confirm your sightseeing plans online and/or locally, especially when traveling off-season.
Gene Openshaw is the co-author of the Rick Steves Florence & Tuscany guidebook.