Whether you or I (the sun loving Australian) like to admit it or not, we still have almost two full months of winter left in the Tuscan Maremma.
A lot of people would shudder at the idea of visiting anywhere in Europe during the wintertime, but the chilly season in my home region is actually really mild.
As I write this in Manciano, the sun is literally pouring through my office window. It looks incredibly inviting, and I am inclined to whip out my shorts and run outside. Not that that’s a good idea. The temperature is still in the mid-teens, 14°C (57°F) I think, and unless things get really glacial, it will remain in the mid-teens until the end of winter with minimal rainfall. Not bad huh?
Aside from the weather, there are other perks to visiting the Tuscan Maremma in winter, and here are a few of them:
1. Less tourists = cheap accommodation and plenty of space at the Saturnia hot springs
Most tourists travel to the Tuscan Maremma to escape the other millions of tourists who flock to Florence, Siena and Rome, but in winter, this idyllic corner of Southern Tuscany has even less tourists than usual.
Accommodation is seriously cheap in January and February and you might even be lucky enough to be the only person staying in your chosen agriturismo, which means lovingly homemade breakfasts just for you!
Sure no lines to get into Massa Marittima’s cathedral is good, but not having to elbow people for space in Saturnia’s hot springs is even better!
Saturnia is one of Europe’s most sought after hot springs destinations. In the summer months, you have to share the springs with hundreds of tourists.
But from December onward, most are too chicken to strip down in the cold air. Their loss! With the suggestive steam rising above your head and almost no one to disturb you, the Cascate del Mulino in winter are paradisaical.
Saturnia’s luxurious Terme di Saturnia Spa Complex is closed from January 16-February 1, but you can enjoy the Cascate del Mulino for free all year round.
2. Affordable skiing on Monte Amiata
Sure you could go to northern Italy to ski, but if you’re a novice, like me, or someone just looking to enjoy an afternoon on the slopes, then there’s no place better than Monte Amiata.
A full day ski pass on Monte Amiata costs €19, which is an absolute steal!
You can whiz your way around more than 10,000km of spacious slopes of varying degrees of difficulty and not have to wait in the long lines you get up north.
The skiers are more family friendly on Monte Amiata too, so you don’t have to worry about getting bowled over by some nut doing 100km/h down the slopes!
If you don’t ski, Monte Amiata is still the place to be in winter.
Rent some Nordic skis and try out the slopes for €3, take the kids snow boarding at the snow park or just enjoy an infinitely pleasurable walk or hike through the snow-flecked six nature parks that sit at the mountain’s feet.
3. Enjoy lagoon life in Orbetello
In Orbetello, there is no such thing as winter. Day in day out throughout December, January and February, the city never has a day below 20°C (68°F) and it never ever rains. I guess you could call it the tropics of the Maremma!
You can thank the lagoon that surrounds the city on either side. It keeps Orbetello blissfully warm, carefree and always well stocked with incredible fish dishes, like bottarga, a local salt cured delicacy that is held in the same esteem as caviar.
Maybe it’s the weather or the local’s love for partying, but Orbetello really comes alive in winter. There are festivals, events and sagre held around the lagoon almost on a weekly basis, as well as late night shopping and some great bars and night spots.
You’re probably thinking, ‘So why don’t I visit in summer?’ Let’s just say, what’s warm in winter is sometimes unbearably hot in summer. Orbetello is definitely at its best and most tolerable in winter.
4. Appreciate the culture with the locals in Pitigliano
When the last of the summer tourists have gone, the Maremma breathes a sign of relief and the locals reclaim their cities. It’s a beautiful time to be in the region, especially if you want to really soak up the local atmosphere.
Winter traditions are alive and well across the Tuscan Maremma, but if I had to take a pick, I’d go to Pitigliano.
The Pitiglianese have the most beautiful culture. It’s heavily influenced by their agrarian roots, or in the local dialect Giubbonai, but it also has a unique hint of Jewish.
In the 16th century, the city welcomed a large Jewish community, which continues to influence the festivals the modern city celebrates, the stories its locals tell their children and the dishes they serve on their dinner table a night.
Take advantage of the winter deals and book an apartment in or around Pitigliano. That way you can really feel like a local and savour the enviable life of the Maremman countryside, and maybe try a bit of Goym cooking – Jewish/Italian fusion!