On the ridge that divides the Val D'Orcia from the Val di Chiana, Montepulciano stands on a chalky hilltop. This beautiful Renaissance hilltown, which still adheres to its medieval plan, is embedded in a picture-postcard landscape: every way you turn, you are confronted with the iconic image of the Tuscan countryside, where waves of hills and golden fields, dotted with cypresses, roll and roll together.
Thanks to its superb vineyards, the Montepulciano area is considered one of the finest winemaking regions in the world, which makes it without a doubt one of the most frequented and beloved tourist destinations in Tuscany.
The best way to discover the elegant historic centre is to walk it. Enter by Porta al Prato, in the lower part of the town, and walk uphill until you reach the summit and Piazza Grande, which hosts a great many cultural events of international significance. You will meet Renaissance palazzo after Renaissance palazzo, a slew of artisan workshops and beautifully façaded churches that are even more astonishing and interesting inside.
You must also see the wonderful tower and gothic-style façade of the Palazzo Comunale. Opposite this, the town hall, stands the Cathedral, which dates back to the sixteenth century.
Immediately below the circuit of walls you can admire the Temple to the Madonna di San Biagio, the work of Renaissance artist Antonio da Sangallo the elder. This church is considered an architectural triumph, so much so that Michelangelo cribbed from it when he was sketching the first drafts of what would become St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
But in spite of its indisputable beauty, Montepulciano is known throughout the world for its Vino Nobile: one of Tuscany's most globally valued wines, this red is made from grapes grown in the vineyards that surround the town. Don't miss a visit to at least one of the monumental wineries. Many of these are so interesting as pieces of architecture in their own right that they draw aesthetes as well as wine lovers.
Torrita di Siena, on the other hand, is most suitable for lovers of art and folklore. In March the town celebrates San Giuseppe with its traditional donkey race, the Palio dei Somari. Chiusi, meanwhile, considered one of the most important Etruscan cities, always delights visitors with its famous Labyrinth of Porsenna, through which you enter the cathedral museum. The labyrinth, which unfolds under the square and the roads next to the cathedral, is an ancient aqueduct from Etruscan times.
Every year in August, the eight districts of Montepulciano compete in the Bravìo delle Botti, a race through the town's oldest streets, spiced up with flag-wavers and historic dress. The theatrical show Bruscello Poliziano comes to town around the same time, while the International Art Workshop welcomes tourists and the curious with the finest musical and artistic exhibitions. The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Previews take place in February: an unmissable date for all wine lovers.
Typical Dishes and Produce
A stroll through the beauty of Montepulciano has to finish with a dinner made from the finest local produce, such as the Cinta Senese sausage or pappardelle pasta in wild boar sauce: all washed down, of course, with a glass of Vino Nobile. If you love fresh pasta, sit down in front of a plate of pici all'aglione (a thick pasta in garlic sauce), a condiment typical of the Val di Chiana. And finally, don't miss the chance to see a Chianina steak grilled on the table.