July in Tuscany
04 May 2016
The summer months in Italy, particularly July, bring the agriculturally rich region of Tuscany to life.
The iconic sunflowers illuminate expansive and rolling hills in a spectacular yellow hue. Stone fruits, berries, melons and vegetables dangle from vines and trees and fields of lavender are in full bloom; all ready for the harvest. Tuscany is aesthetically stunning during this time of year, the scenery is comprised of contrasting colours of fruits and flowers in full bloom, and one can enjoy seasonal Tuscan fruits and vegetables in their freshly picked glory!
Though temperatures tend to be hottest at this time of year, hovering between 18 and 30 degrees; the warmer weather makes a trip to the beautiful Tuscan coast or the Island of Elba all the more tempting! The prized coast of Maremma is 160 km of pristine Tuscan shoreline, which has been awarded multiple Blue Flags, an award recognising the cleanliness of the sandy beaches, and pristine quality of the water. Pine forests and rock enclaves dot the coast, as well as quaint coastal towns such as Castiglione della Pescaia and Punt’Ala.
Numerous nature reserves run parallel with the coast also, such as the Parco dell’Uccellina. Also known as the Nature Park of the Maremma, it has well maintained hiking trails for those eager to lose themselves amongst the beautiful pine forests and tracks for mountain biking and horseback riding.
The prize of the Archipelago Toscano National Park, which is a collection of islands off the coast of Tuscany, is the Island of Elba. Throughout history it was a fiercely contested for piece of land. A testament perhaps to is quintessential Mediterranean beauty. A short 10 kilometre ferry ride from the coastal town Piombino, Elba during the summer months is bathed in sunlight and offers ample swimming space for those looking to cool off in the beautiful turquoise water. The island is also known for its cycling, boasting several on-road routes through the hilly terrain, and multiple off road mountain bike trails also.
History well and truly comes to life in Tuscany during July.
Monteriggioni is a medieval walled hamlet, constructed in the 13th century on top of a hill by the Sienese (The Republic of Siena) as a front line for their wars against Florence. The town encircled by its strategically high walls, is referenced by famed Italian poet Dante Alighieri in many of his works, and is known for its renaissance style architecture. Every July the town hosts a medieval festival, celebrating and re-creating the middle ages in Tuscany. Events include falconry, pipe bands and battle recreations.
The famed Palio di Siena is also held in early July and mid-August in the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Siena. The event is perhaps most commonly known and recognised from the start of the Quantum of Solace Bond film. The exciting event is a bareback horse race held in the middle of the medieval hamlet. Every year jockeys compete in brightly coloured silks, representing the 17 Contrade or city wards. It isn’t uncommon for horses to cross the finish line without a jockey, and the colourful adrenaline inciting affair only lasts for 90 seconds.