Informative if a bit precious article in the NY Times today about visiting the Val d'Orcia in winter. This paragraph is certainly true:
"Forget the magazine covers that promise “The Undiscovered Tuscany!” “The Hidden Tuscany!” “The Secret Tuscany!” When a place has been attracting admirers for more than a thousand years, no square inch is undiscovered. The real Tuscany, as locals have been telling me over the years, is found in the dead of winter, when the crowds are thinner and the rooms, flights and restaurants are pleasantly cheaper."
Even here in Florence, about two weeks ago things suddenly changed as far as the amount of people around and the level of activity, but in the countryside the change is much more dramatic.