While in Pienza, set aside a few hours to visit Montepulciano, just 11 kilometers away from town, nestled between the Val D'Orcia and Val di Chiana. Montepulciano is a quintessential Tuscan medieval village vaunting green landscapes marked by rolling hills, castle walls and ramparts, thermal springs and fine wine... it's perfection personified!
Montepulciano is located in southern Tuscany in the province of Siena. Situated on a limestone hill 605 m above sea level, it's famous worldwide for its Vino Nobile, an Italian product par excellence. Besides wine and food-related treasures (such as pici pasta, pork, lentils and more), there are many gems worth visiting in the area. The town is known as a "16th-century jewel" thanks to its splendid Renaissance art and architecture. When it comes to the main sights, here's what to see in Montepulciano.
Piazza Grande, situated at the highest point in town, is Montepulciano's center, dominated by the imposing tower and Gothic façade of the Palazzo Comunale. From the tower's peak you'll see as far as Radicofani, the Val d'Orcia and Lake Trasimeno. The square is lined with grand buildings, including the cathedral and town hall, not to mention a lovely mix of restaurants and cafes.
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (dating to the late 16th century) boasts a simple Mannerist façade with a three-arched portico. The interior is composed of a single nave and houses a prized terracotta altar by Andrea della Robbia.
Head to the Church of the Madonna di San Biagio, an impressive structure dating to the 16th century that juts out against the sky. Visible from a distance, the church welcomes the city's visitors from afar.
New Moon: The film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight book series was filmed here, transforming the town’s historic center into a movie set during filming.
Montepulciano is car-free: Cars are not permitted inside the historical center without a permit, so you'll have to park outside of town, but try and get there early, as summer crowds fill parking lots fast!
Long walks: Montepulciano's main street spans 1.5 km, from Porta al Prato to piazza Grande at the top of the hill.
By car, Montepulciano is only a few miles from the A1 motorway and the more scenic SS2 stretching from Rome to Florence.
By bus, Montepulciano is connected to many other Tuscan cities, including Siena (75 minutes), Pienza (30 minutes), Montalcino (1 hour) and Chiusi (hourly). Buses depart from piazza Pietro Nenni, which visitors can reach from the town center by following a pedestrian shortcut equipped with both an elevator and stairs.
If you're coming by train, the nearest train station is Chiusi (30 minutes away), where you'll find frequent trains to Florence and Rome.