A day trip to Montepulciano

While in Pienza, set aside a few hours to visit Montepulciano, just eleven kilometres away nestled between the Val D'Orcia and Val di Chiana. Montepulciano is a quintessential Tuscan medieval village, boasting a green landscape of rolling hills, castle walls and ramparts, thermal springs and fine wine... perfection personified!
Around Montepulciano [Photo Credits: Giampaolo Macorig]
Around Montepulciano [Photo Credits: Giampaolo Macorig]
Montepulciano is situated in southern Tuscany, in the province of Siena and stands on a limestone hill, 605 metres above sea level. It is famous worldwide for its Vino Nobile, an Italian product par excellence. Besides the wine and other excellences of this town related to food, such as pici pasta, pork, lentils and so on, there are many things worth visiting here. The town is known as a "jewel of the 1500s" thanks to its splendid Renaissance art and architecture: let's go and see the main sights together. What to see in Montepulciano
  • The castle of Montepulciano was first mentioned as a fortified centre in a document of 715. The castle’s history is connected to the alternated alliances with Siena and Florence. Siena was initially victorious over Florence, but the course of the conflict soon turned against them and they were forced to pay the amount needed to rebuild Montepulciano. Then Montepulciano reinforced the municipal institutions, but was also divided internally by the struggles between the districts and power groups. In 1390, Montepulciano passed once again under the sovereignty of Florence, which restored the walls and built a new fortress.
  • Piazza Grande, situated at the highest point of the town, is the centre of Montepulciano and is dominated by the great tower and the Gothic façade of the Palazzo Comunale. From the top of the tower you can see as far as Radicofani, the Val d'Orcia and the Lake Trasimeno. The square is lined with some grand buildings like the Cathedral and the Town Hall. There are also restaurants and cafes.
  • The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta dates back to 1619 and contains masterpieces from the Sienese School. Montepulciano’s cathedral is situated on the southern side of Piazza Grande. Its façade is unfinished but inside there is a very impressive altarpiece created in 1401, painted on wood and decorated with gold. Entry is free.
  • The Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) is situated in Piazza Grande and you can climb to the top of the tower to enjoy a fantastic view. It was designed by Michelozzo following the model of Palazzo della Signoria in Florence.
  • The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (late 16th century) has a simple Mannerist façade with a three-arcade portico. The interior has a single nave and houses a precious terracotta altar by Andrea della Robbia.
  • The church of the Madonna di San Biagio dates back to the 16th century and stands out in the distance welcoming anyone who chooses to spend a day here. 
    San Biagio church [Photo Credits: Dorli Photography]
    San Biagio church [Photo Credits: Dorli Photography]
  • The church of Sant'Agostino built by Michelozzo has a lovely white stone façade. Before you go inside, look up and check out the Madonna & Child, with St Augustine & John the Baptist, above the door. There are also great pieces of art inside.
  • The Torre di Pulcinella is situated opposite to the church of Sant'Agostino. This is a medieval clock tower topped with the figure of Pulcinella, who strikes the hours on his bell. 
    Sant'Agostino church and Torre di Pulcinella [Photo Credits: SantiMB]
    Sant'Agostino church and Torre di Pulcinella [Photo Credits: SantiMB]
  • The thermal springs in Montepulciano Terme: Montepulciano’s thermal water is mainly sulphurous and used to treat respiratory and skin diseases.
Curiosities
  • New Moon, the film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight book series, was filmed here and the town’s historic centre became the hub of the movie set during filming.
  • Montepulciano is car-free: cars are not allowed inside the historical old centre unless you have a permit, so you must park at the edge of the town. In summer it will be crowded.
  • The main street of Montepulciano stretches for 1.5 kilometres from Porta al Prato to Piazza Grande at the top of the hill.
[Photo Credits: SantiMB]
[Photo Credits: SantiMB]
How to reach Montepulciano By car: Montepulciano is a few miles from the A1 Autostrada motorway as well as the more scenic SS2 from Rome to Florence. By bus: Montepulciano is connected with many other Tuscan cities: Siena (75 minutes), Pienza (30 minutes), Montalcino (1 hour) and Chiusi (hourly). Buses depart from Piazza Pietro Nenni, reached from the town centre along a pedestrian shortcut with both a lift and stairs. By train: the nearest railway is in Chiusi, a half hour away, from where there are frequent trains to Florence and Rome.