Montepulciano town on the hilltops Away from the crowds that throng better-known rivals, Montepulciano is a delight to explore, Montepulciano is a dignified and interesting hilltop town (14,300 inhab.) commanding the southeast part of Tuscany near the Umbrian border. It is particularly well preserved and has many handsome 16C palaces, including some by Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio who also built the Tempio di San Biagio here.
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The area is noted for its red wines, the most famous being the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
After changing hands several times between Siena and Florence, Montepulciano came under permanent Florentine rule in 1511, and its fortifications, including the Porta di Gracciano, were rebuilt by Cosimo I. It was the birthplace of Angelo Ambrogini (1454-94), the great Classical scholar, who adopted the town's late Latin name Poliziano.
Tuscany is at its best in its small historic hilltowns. And of all the region's small historic hilltowns, Montepulciano has to be one of the most compelling.
Others are better known like San Gimignano, a village-turned-city-state that bristles with defensive towers. But San Gimignano is a victim of its own picturesqueness, too small to cope with the sheer volume of visitors that descend on it every summer. Or there's pretty Cortona – once a cultured off-the-beaten-track destination in Tuscany's south-eastern corner, now a mainstream coach-tour magnet, thanks to its association with the book (and later the film) Under the Tuscan Sun, whose author, Frances Mayes, has a house nearby.
Montepulciano is not exactly undiscovered, but it's below the radar enough and big enough (with a population of almost 15,000) to absorb its visitors gracefully, without becoming a tourist souk.
Standing imperious on its high tufa ridge, Montepulciano seems to have been positioned by a landscape painter and laid out by a designer of Renaissance opera sets. It has one of the most intact and architecturally unified historic centres of any Italian town: within its walls, apart from a few nips and tucks, no major building work has taken place since 1580. It has some good restaurants serving hearty southern Tuscan fare, one or two rustically elegant places to stay, and it makes one of Tuscany's most serious, full-bodied red wines. But the town also has a certain reticence about it, a private side to its character, that I find fascinating
Madonna di San Biagio
Via di San Biagio, 14 - Open daily This beautiful church is on the outskirts of Montepulciano. Built of honey - and cream - colored travertine, it is Sangallo's masterpiece, a Renaissance gem begun in 1518. The project occupied him until his daeth in 1534.
In tuscany and montepulciano you can explore the amazing rural Tuscany, cruising vineyards,waving fields, medieval villages, castles, abbeys, artisan showrooms and workshops, local Enogastronomic shops and important wineries where you can taste all the different products. Explore the most important wine sites in Tuscany: Chianti Wine Tour, Brunello Wine Tour,Montepulciano Wine Tour and San Gimignano Tour!
Corso, 73 - Closed The lower façade of the palazzo (1648) is studded with ancient Etruscan reliefs and funerary urns collected by its 18th-century antiquarian owner, Pietro Bucelli.
Piazza Michelozzo - Open daily Michelozzo built the church in 1427, with an elaborate carved portal featuring the Virgin and child flanked by St. John and St. Augustine.
Piazza Grande, 1 - Open Monday - Saturday In the 15th century, Michelozzo added a tower and façade to the original Gothic town hall. The building is now a smaller version of the Palazzo Vecchio. On a clean day, the views that can be seen from the tower are superb.
Piazza Grande - Closed. The imposing 16th-century palazzo is next to the town hall and is currently undergoing restoration to the façade.
Piazza Grande - Open daily The Duomo was designed between 1592 and 1630 by Ippolito Scalza. The façade is unfinished and plain, but the interior is Classical in proportions. It is the setting for an earlier masterpiece from the Siena School, the "Assumption of the Virgin" triptych painted by Taddeo di Bartolo in 1401.
SELECTED WEBSITES TO TRAVEL IN MONTEPULCIANO SIENNA
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Wine Tour. The historical hilltop towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano are often confused because their names sound so similar.
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Wide selection of farmhouse and villa rental accommodation in Montepulciano, Siena Tuscany, organic farmhouse in Montepulciano within Siena province, close to the historical town centre of Montepulciano town.
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