Every respectable New Year should have a wish list featuring plenty of new places to visit in Tuscany! Let's start with somewhere typical, Montalcino. We look forward to receiving your suggestions for another year of interesting and useful posts! The hill town of Montalcino, completely encircled by fortified walls, is situated in the Val d’Orcia, a few kilometres from Pienza and the Crete Senesi and not far from Mount Amiata. Renowned for its world-famous Brunello di Montalcino, it is also a fairy-tale place to spend a day immersed in Tuscany’s history and countryside. Climbing to the top of the hill you have stunning views over the valleys all around, characterized by vineyards, olive trees, fields and other little villages. Montalcino has remained practically unchanged over the centuries, with its 13th-century defensive walls and its historical centre dominated by the 14th-century fortress. But there are many other main places to visit, so let’s put together a list of must-see sights. Fortress: The fortress of Montalcino stands at the highest point of the town and it has remained almost the same since the Middle Ages. It is free to enter the fortress grounds, but costs 3.50 euro to climb up to the ramparts. It often becomes a special setting for festivals, concerts and events. For example, in July there is the Jazz & Wine Festival, where you can combine international jazz music with fine wine. Climb to the top of the tower and see the fabulous views over the town and surrounding valleys. Today, it hosts one of the town’s many “enoteca” (wine bars). Duomo: The neoclassical-style cathedral dedicated to San Salvatore was constructed in the 14th century and built on the site of an age-old parish church, believed to have been built around the year 1000. Some remains are still preserved in the baptistery. The bell tower dates to the 18th century. Here you can find notable paintings. Piazza del Popolo: This is Montalcino's main square, located downhill from the fortress. The square is fairly small and hosts a few cafes, bar and restaurants. The main building on piazza del Popolo is the town hall, which was originally the Palazzo dei Priori, and the clock tower. Close to the town hall there is La Loggia, a building built in the 14th and 15th centuries that consists of six rounded arches. Piazza Garibaldi: Here you can find the tourist information center with remarkable ceramic tiles. Museo Civico e Diocesano di Arte Sacra (Civic and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art): It is situated in the ex-convent, next to the church of Sant’Agostino. It is a small collection of important works by Sienese masters from the 14th and 15th centuries. Museo della Comunità di Montalcino e del Brunello: The Museum of the Community and Brunello di Montalcino comes from the need not to forget the great richness and variety of the heritage of history and tradition from which the great wine of Montalcino comes, not by chance. Sant’Antimo Abbey: 9 km from Montalcino, in the province of Siena, there is the stunning Sant’Antimo Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery. The name of the abbey may refer to Saint Anthimus of Rome, whose relics were supposedly moved here during the late 8th century. There is a legend connected to the abbey founded by Charlemagne in 781. The king and his army actually stopped here on their way back from Rome because the soldiers were afflicted by an unknown pestilence. The legend says that an angel appeared to Charlemagne, telling him to make his men drink a local herb infusion, which worked so the army was saved and the King decided to build the church in gratitude. Getting there From Siena: Montalcino is situated 42 kilometres from Siena From Florence: Montalcino is situated 110 kilometres from Florence Montalcino is a 45-minute drive from Siena on the SS2 road. The best way to get there is by car or motorbike. There’s no train station; the nearest one is Buonconvento, and then you have to take a bus. The service is provided by TRAIN spa. From the north, take a turnoff from the SS2 south of Buonconvento. Take the road up to the Traversa di Monti. From Grosseto turn off at Paganico and then follow the signs. You will pass by Sant'Angelo in Scalo on your way. From San Quirico d’Orcia head towards Torrenieri and then take the Traversa di Monte up the hill to Montalcino. In the town there’s no free parking, so we suggest you to park outside the city walls.
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