Montepulciano sits on a hill in Southern Tuscany, fairly close to Siena and Florence. It's a walled town of Etruscan origins and one of the most charming in Tuscany. Montepulciano means natural beauties, medieval and Renaissance stunning architectures and, of course, its famous wine - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Indeed, a wine tasting in Montepulciano is in order - but there are so many other local delicacies and experiences to discover!
What to see in Montepulciano
Stunning views, Renaissance architectures with some Baroque touches, a temple immersed in nature...
Here are some highlights to give you some inspiration.
The view from the top
First of all, since Montepulciano features quite up-hill streets we suggest that you wear sensible walking shoes. Strolling along alleys and picturesque winding roads might be a little tiring, but hey… Take your time.
Is the climb worth it?
It sure is. Montepulciano boasts wonderful panoramas over the Val d’Orcia and the Val di Chiana, with endless green hills and golden fields. Here's the view on the surrounding countryside:
Piazza Grande is Montepulciano’s main square, the place where people meet and events take place, such as the yearly Christmas market.
Here you’ll find the Palazzo Comunale (town-hall), an austere building that dates back to the 15th century. It features a magnificent tower that you can climb. Its façade was designed by Michelozzo and is reminiscent of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio.
There are other important buildings, such as Palazzo Contucci, by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, and Palazzo Tarugi with an open loggia on the ground floor.
Take a look at the Griffins and Lions Well, which is attributed to Andrea da Sangallo the Elder. The griffins represent Montepulciano while the lions, supporting the Medici coat-of-arms, represent Florence.
San Biagio temple
This impressive church surrounded by trees is perched high on a hill right outside the old city walls of Montepulciano. It was designed on a Greek cross plan by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder in the 16th century. It’s considered one of the finest buildings of the Renaissance.
The interiors are charmingly decorated with frescoes by Zuccari.
Visit it at sunset, when the rays of sunlight gently touch the travertine façade and give the place a warm and golden atmosphere.
What to do in Montepulciano
Vino Nobile Wine tasting
Among the distinctive characteristic of the town, you’ll find that there are many underground cellars. Montepulciano is home to the famous ruby red Sangiovese (min. 70%) wine - Vino Nobile, which is usually aged for two years in oak barrels.
17th-century poet, physician and biologist Francesco Redi referred to Vino Nobile as “the king of all wines” in its poem Bacchus in Tuscany. Vino Nobile is an ancient and noble wine whose first historical reference dates back to 789. Throughout the centuries it was a favorite bottle of Kings and Popes, and the first Italian wine to get the DOCG status, in 1980.
It goes without saying that you should definitely indulge in a delicious wine tasting experience while you’re in Montepulciano.
The folkloristic Bravio delle botti
Every year, on the last Sunday of August, couples of contestants from the 8 districts (contrade) of Montepulciano compete for about a kilometer along the uphill streets of the town by pushing huge and heavy wooden wine barrels (botti).
The winner gets the bravio, a cloth painted by an artist according to a chosen theme.
Quite a peculiar competition, isn’t it? On the occasion, Montepulciano is even more charming, with the districts' flags adorning the streets and colorful Medieval costumes parades that will take you back in time!