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Montepulciano

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Montepulciano is a city in Tuscany famous for its wines, especially the classic red wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The town has gained notability from being used as a location for the Twilight films.

Understand

Montepulciano is one of many Medieval towns dotting the Tuscan countryside in the southeast of the Italian province of Siena. It sits on a limestone ridge surrounded by the rolling hills of the Val D'Orcia and of the Val Chiana regions characteristic of towns in the area.

Montepulciano is known especially for its red wine made from Sangiovese grapes, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Its local wine is traditionally considered one of Italy's best red wines and was lauded by the poet Francesco Redi as "the king of all wines!" (Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, on the other hand, is a varietal wine that is not made here, but in Abruzzo.)

Montepulciano is also known for food such as pici pasta and pecorino cheese.

It is said to have been settled first by the Etruscans. The town was fought over by Sienese and Florentines during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Finally in the 1500s, it came firmly under Florentine rule. Today, the town is known as an epicurean destination and many visit to sample the local wine and cuisine.

  • 1 Tourist Information, Minzoni G. (Piazza) (The office is on Piazza don Minzoni), ☏ +39 0578-757-341. M-Sa 09:30-13:00 & 15:00-19:00, Su 09:00-13:00. Information about the town and surrounding area.

Get in

By road

Montepulciano is a few kilometres from the A1 Autostrada and from the more scenic SS2 from Rome to Florence. Cars are not allowed inside the old town as it is a ZTL-controlled area (except with a permit, available from hotels) so park in one of the numerous lots at the edge of the town. The lots fill up quickly in late summer, the height of the tourist season.

By bus

Buses, departing from Piazza Pietro Nenni, connect Montepulciano with many other Tuscan cities: Siena (75 minutes, 4/day none on Sunday), Pienza (30 minutes, 8/day), Montalcino (1 hour, 10/day, change in Torrenien) and Chiusi (hourly). Route #146 into Montepulciano is quite scenic. See Tuscany#Get_around for tips.

If you are walking into town from the bus station (autostazione in Italian), there is a pedestrian short-cut with an elevator and stairs to the top of the cliff. The entrance is through a portal on Via delle Lettere at the corner of Piazzale dello Sterro, about 50 m from the bus station.

By rail

The nearest railhead is a half-hour away at Chiusi from where there are frequent trains to Florence and Rome.

Get around

The only way to get around within the historic centre is to walk along the steep pathways. Driving within the historical old town is not permitted without fines unless you are a local with a permit. Outside the historic old town, a car is recommended to drive around the countryside and outer town. Road biking is also possible, although be wary of cars on the narrow, curving, and rolling roads.

See

  • 2 Piazza Grande. Pleasant piazza surrounded by great architecture, like the medieval Palazzo Comunale, Contucci Palace, & Palazzo de' Nobili-Tarugi
  • 3 Civic Museum, Via Ricci, 10, ☏ +39 0578-717-300. Tu-Sa 10:00-13:00, 15:00-18:00; Su 10:00-18:00. This small museum's highlight is the della Robbia ceramic alterpieces & Etruscan artifacts. €4.10.
  • 4 San Biagio Church. Daily 09:00-13:00, 15:00-19:00. A wonderful Renaissance church with soaring nave & dome, with a challenging walk from the church to the town centre.
  • 5 Palazzo Comunale, Piazza Grande, 1. The clock tower of the Palazzo Comunale can be climbed for a great town view (€1.60 open daily 10:00-18:00)
  • 6 Cantina wine cellars, Streets surrounding Piazza Grande. Ask to visit the cellars of the various cantinas (e.g. Contucci, Talosa). Free tours are available or you can wander them yourself. See wine aging in gigantic oak barrels as well as vintage wines in the cool caverns within the hillside of the old town. Free.

Do

  • 1 Wine Tasting.Tastings can be done in the Cantinas along Via Ricci & Via di Gracciano nel Corso, but the most fun one is in the basement of the Contucci Palace, on Piazza Grande. Free tasting, no food, open daily 08:30-12:30 & 14:30-18:30. Groups welcome with a reservation. Telephone: +39 0578-757-006
  • 2 La Foce, Strada della Vittoria, 61, 53042 Chianciano Terme SI, ☏ +39 0578 69101. The house and property of La Foce is a short drive away. The 15th-century villa was built as an inn for pilgrims and merchants traveling on the ancient road to Rome, Via Francigena. Restored as a private home by Iris and Antonio Origo, the house and the gardens make for a pleasant two-hour visit from Montepulciano. The villa and property (as also are Montepulciano and Chiusi) are the centrepiece of the very readable book War in the Val D'Orcia by Iris Origo. Summertime music concerts are also featured. All tours are guided, so call ahead.

Buy

  • 1 Weekly Market, Piazza Pietro Nenni (By bus station). Thursday Mornings. Weekly local market on Thursday mornings of produce and other goods
  • 2 Enrico Crociani men's clothing, Via Dell'Opio nel Corso, 6, ☏ +39 0578 758823, ✉ crociani@bccmp.com. Daily 10:30-13:00, 15:00-19:30. Handicrafted local-made men's clothing
  • 3 Bottega del Rame (Rinomata Rameria Mazzetti), Via dell'Opio nel corso, 64, ☏ +39 0578 758 753, ✉ bottegadelrame@rameria.com. 9:30-18:00. Copper cookware, fine copper pieces for kitchen and whole house.
  • 4 Cantina Contucci, Via del Teatro, 1, ☏ +39 0578 757006. M-Sun 10:30-12:30, 14:30-18:00. One of the oldest historic wineries in the region.
  • 5 De' Ricci Cantina, Via Ricci, 11, ☏ +39 0578 757166. Daily 10:30-19:00. A historic winery within a palazzo.
  • 6 Cantina Crociani, Via del Poliziano, 15, ☏ +39 0578 757919. Daily 10:00-13:00, 14:30-18:30. A winery within the historic old town.
  • 7 Cantina Fattoria della Talosa, Via Talosa, 8, ☏ +39 0578 757929. Daily 11:00-18:30. One of the relatively newer wineries within the historic centre.
  • 8 Cantina Gattavecchi, Via di Collazzi, 74, ☏ +39 0578 757110. Daily 11:00-18:00, Wed closed. A winery lying underneath a church with a restaurant on the main floor.

Eat

  • 1 Ai Quattro Venti, Piazza Grande, 2 (Next to city hall on Piazza Grande), ☏ +39 0578-717-231. F-W 12:30-14:00 & 19:30-22:30. Fresh, flavourful, & fun, on Piazza Grande with indoor & outdoor seating. €7 pastas.
  • 2 Osteria dell'Acquacheta, Via del Teatro, 22, ☏ +39 0578-717-086. W-M 12:30-15:00 & 19:30-22:30. Known for its Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Steaks are priced per 100g. Busy restaurant, plan on making reservations. €5 pastas & salads, €8 pasta,.
  • 3 Osteria del Conte, Via di S. Donato, 19 (By southern entrance to the historical old town.), ☏ +39 0578 756062. Tu-Su 12:30-14:30, 19:30-22:00, losed M. Traditional Tuscan dishes. Try the local Pici, a thick hand-rolled pasta similar to a thicker spaghetti. Other local dishes include pasta with wild boar ragu. Has indoor and outdoor seating. €7.50 pasta dish, €14 meat dish.
  • 4 Caffè Poliziano, Via di Voltaia Nel Corso, 27/29, ☏ +39 0578 758615. Daily 07:00-21:00. Established in 1868 with Art Nouveau design. Split between a cafe and a restaurant both overlooking the surrounding countryside. The cafe portion has a counter of gelato, desserts, and baked goods. The restaurant serves traditional Tuscan dishes. Go for the cafe and the views. €12 pasta dish, €15 meat dish.

Drink

Montepulciano is the centre of an ancient wine-growing region, so go ahead and sample some. Three varieties of wine are available (all are mostly from the sangiovese grape): Rosso di Montepulciano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Reserva, in increasing order of subtlety and price. The wines tend to be full-bodied, the kind that goes well with a picture of generations of Tuscan peasants, sitting in the fields, eating cinghiale (boar) while swigging the good stuff!

1 Fortezza di Montepulciano (Fortezza Medicea), Via di S. Donato. Daily 10:00-20:00. Check out the cafe and wine bar within the Fortezza Di Montepulciano, which is the headquarters of the local winery consortium. There is a glass floor over archaeological excavations of the fortress within the bar. You can sample glasses of wine from dozens of local producers as well as others nearby such as Brunello di Montalcino wines for on average €3-6/glass through a wine dispenser controlled by a key card system. Ask for a card from the cashier of the bar.

Sleep

  • Mueble il Riccio, ☏ +39 0578-757-713, fax: +39 0578-757-151, ✉ info@ilriccio.net. 6 medieval elegant rooms, an awesome rooftop terrace, & friendly owners. Breakfast €8, air-conditioning, a block below main square at Via Talosa. Gio & Ivana speak English, Gio or his son give country tours in one of their classic cars for €25/hour. Single w/bathroom €80, double w/bathroom from €100.
  • Camere Bellavista has 10 rooms, some with better views than others. Room 6 has a terrace worth reserving. Double w/bathroom €55, nicer double w/bathroom €65, breakfast €2.50, cash only, no elevator, on Via Ricci 25, little English spoken, Mobile phone: 347-823-2314
  • Via della Stella. 15 km from Montepulciano and Cortona. Complex comprises 2 buildings each equipped with own outdoor areas and finished and furnished with Tuscan pieces, with wrought-iron beds. 9x18 m pool, whirlpool (extra), ping-pong, playground for children, bowl-court and barbecue. Parking by the farmhouse.
  • Borgo Tre Rose (Borgo Tre Rose), Via dei Palazzi, 5, ☏ +39 0578 724231. 3-star hotel with swimming pool, located in the Tuscan hills not far from Montepulciano historical centre. Room rates from €110 to €180.
  • Agriturismo B&B Casa di Bacco, Via della Fornace Valiano 16, ☏ +39 3388054069. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 10:00. Farm home hotel with seven rooms (four with a shower and three with a Jacuzzi) and one apartment (with fireplace and Jacuzzi). Each room has an LCD TV, satellite decoder, minibar and air conditioning. Private parking, barbecue and gazebo available. A swimming pool is open all day and at night. A continental buffet breakfast is included. €100-150.
  • 1 Fonte Martino Guest House & Estate, Via di Valardegna 8 (5-minute drive from the centre), ☏ +39 3291567491, ✉ info@fontemartino.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. A new (as of 2019) bed and breakfast with panoramic views of town and the Valdichiana. Each suite includes a private terrace. A homemade seasonal breakfast is included each morning. €289.

Go next

  • Chiusi
  • Chianciano Terme
  • Pienza
  • Radicofani
  • Siena

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