The Montepulciano area must be visited at least once in a lifetime.
You can do it for the enchanting hills, to taste wines, to visit the splendid courtyard or simply for all these reasons together. Set among Siena, Arezzo, Perugia and Terni, straddling Chiana Valley and Orcia Valley, this area of Tuscany will amaze you for its beauty. In addition, the Montepulciano area offers indescribable colours in autumn, silence in the winter months, smells and flavours during spring and an unmistakable landscape during the summer.
Perched on the top of a hill, south of Tuscany and not far from Siena, Montepulciano is a medieval town of rare beauty that certainly deserves to be visited. A unique town with elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches and splendid squares. Moreover, from Montepulciano, you can enjoy a fabulous and boundless panorama over Orcia Valley and Chiana Valley. The strategic position of Montepulciano makes it the ideal place to set out to discover this beautiful corner of Tuscany.
The beautiful palaces and sumptuous residences that can be admired walking through the streets of the historic center of Montepulciano, still testify to the great power of noble families during the XIV and XV centuries. However, it was only during the XVI century that Montepulciano really reached its peak, under the dominion of the powerful Medici family.
Sumptuous stately palaces follow one after the other until you arrive in front of the Church of Sant Agostino, designed by Michelozzo. The church preserves a Crucifix attributed to Donatello.
Piazza Grande (Great Square) is the heart of Montepulciano and the stage for the main events of the town. Here there is the Cathedral, the Town Hall, Tarugi Palace and Contucci Palace; the latter houses cellars and you can do wine tastings. Montepulciano has rightly been called the “pearl of the XVI century” as palaces, churches and decorations reflect the Renaissance and follow one another in a sort of open-air museum.
The walk continues towards the Fortress and the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi: from here you can admire another typical attraction of Montepulciano, the beautiful Sanctuary of San Biagio. You can reach the church by walking along the downhill path for about 10 minutes; entering inside you can appreciate its particular shape. This imposing travertine church, which stands isolated in the middle of the Tuscan countryside, is one of the best examples of Renaissance art.
The Sanctuary of San Biagio was built by Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio between 1518 and 1545 and represents a sixteenth-century Tuscan masterpiece. The church is located in the center of a flat lawn and its position, outside the town, in the midst of an extraordinary landscape, highlights its grandeur. The church, with a Greek cross plan, central dome and semicircular apse, is flanked by two bell towers, of which only the one on the left is completed, and is all in travertine. Inside is the fresco depicting the Madonna and Child with St. Francis, the protagonist of the miracle that led to the construction of the Sanctuary.
Walking through the streets of Montepulciano is the best way to discover this medieval town and its attractions and at the same time to admire the incredible view of the surrounding countryside all covered by the fabulous vineyards that produce the famous Nobile wine. Finally, the town offers tasty traditional local dishes and many typical specialities, which are absolutely worth trying in one of the many restaurants or taverns in the historic centre.
The best time to visit Montepulciano is in summer, to enjoy the countryside at its maximum splendour, the spas and the liveliness of the town. On the last Sunday of August, the most important party of the summer is held, the “Bravio delle Botti”, a historic competition among participants who challenge each other to push an 80 kg barrel.
Tuscany is world-famous for its food. This is why it has created specific itineraries called Roads of Wine, Oil & Flavors: to offer high-quality products for those looking for an exclusive experience in Tuscany. These roads include not only wine but also extra virgin olive oils, honey, saffron, chestnuts and also precious recipes of sweets, cheeses, pasta and other traditional dishes.
Of course, during your stay in Montepulciano, you can taste the typical specialities of the area that include as an appetizer the “Panzanella”, a salad dressed with abundant oil and enriched with aromas, or the “crostini” (bread) of spleen and livers or the “Pansanto”, a slice of bread topped with boiled cauliflower, vinegar and oil; these are dishes prepared with simple ingredients as they belong to the peasant tradition. The wine to pair with these appetizers can be a dry white wine such as Vernaccia di San Gimignano, or, in the case of Panzanella, with Montecarlo Bianco (white wine).
Moving on to the first courses, “pici” is the typical pasta of the Sienese province, made with flour, water, a little egg, oil and salt, to be seasoned with meat sauce or garlic sauce or with crumbs of bread stir-fry. The recommended pairing for pici is Rosso di Montepulciano (red wine).
Finally, as regards the main courses, you can taste the Chianina meat, exclusive to this area, with which the famous “Tagliata Toscana” (beefsteak) is cooked, or dishes based on chicken, duck or lamb. With game and roasts, the perfect match is the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.