Over the next few months, we’ll be building a list of the most compelling places to go in the world and the right time to visit them, starting with Tuscany in July.

Il Palio Takes Off in Siena

It is among Europe’s greatest annual spectacles: Il Palio, the biannual bareback horse race through Siena’s Piazza del Campo. Originating in medieval times, the race pits 10 of the 17 contrade (or neighborhoods) of Siena against one another in a fight to the finish. Colorful jockeys, the roaring crowd and the incredible sight of the packed piazza (called Italy’s greatest by many travel writers) make this event a photographer’s dream.

The race is preceded by the Corteo Storico, a brilliantly elaborate parade featuring silver trumpets and flag-throwers. Reserve tickets in advance. Held on July 2 (and again on August 16).


Photo Credit: Kevin Day

Bike Touring Through Val d’Orcia

With its roads winding around farms and over rolling green and amber hills, Val d’Orcia is a cyclist’s dream. One of the best routes links the picturesque hill towns of Pienza, Monticchiello, and Montepulciano via backroads. The cypress-lined, twisting lane just outside Monticchiello (which adorns postcards the region over) is especially fun to ride. Stop at an inviting trattoria or osteria for lunch, and you’ll have a whole new definition of what a “bike tour” ought to be. Your Destination Concierge can arrange a bike rental as well as a guide.

Cooking Class with Seasonal Ingredients

Tuscan cuisine is highly seasonal, and in July, you’ll have more ingredients to choose from than any other time of year. Apricots, pears, figs, and tomatoes are all in peak season, making a hands-on cooking class in your Inspirato residence a perfect fit for the whole family.

Agriturismo tours can also be arranged (complete with adorable sheep and idyllic landscapes) so that your family can get back to the simple life over summer vacation.

Museo NOVACENTO, Florence

July in Florence generally means enormous crowds at its most famous art emporiums: the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia. While both must be experienced once in a lifetime, a newcomer on the scene is beginning to redefine what the art experience of Florence can be. The recently opened Museo NOVACENTO shines a light on the often-overlooked modern art movements of Italy. After touring the museum’s stunning collections, head outside to Piazza di Santa Maria Novella and contemplate the strangely “modern” 15th-century geometric facade of the square’s Basilica di Santa Maria Novella over raspberry-flavored gelato.

The Weather

July is the hottest time of year in Tuscany, with relatively high humidity and temperatures into the 80s. Nights in the countryside can be cool and pleasant, perfect for a glass of Brunello di Montalcino by your villa’s pool.

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