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Montepulciano Travel Guide

Laura Duchini

Getting to Montepulciano

By Car Via

A1 Motorway: if you are arriving from the north, your exit is Valdichiana-Bettolle (about a 25 minutes drive to get to Montepulciano from the A1). If you are arriving from the south your exit is Chiusi-Chianciano Terme.

Siena Perugia Throughway: if you are arriving from Siena exit at the Sinalunga exit. If you are arriving from Perugia, exit at the Bettolle exit.

Via Cassia (the old road from Rome): if you are arriving from Siena, follow signs for San Quirico d'Orcia, Pienza and Montepulciano (about a 50 minutes drive from Siena and 10 minutes from Pienza). If you are arriving from Rome, follow the signs for Monticchiello and Montepulciano and turn off at Gallina.

By Train

Chiusi – Chianciano Terme train station: in front of the station you will find many car rental companies, taxi services and coach service for Montepulciano.

By Plane

Florence – Peretola A. Vespucci Airport: 120 km (roughly 75 miles)

Pisa G. Galilei Airport: 150 km (roughly 93 miles)

Rome – Fiumicino L. da Vinci Airport: 250 km (roughly 155 miles)

Parking in Montepulciano

Map of Montepulciano

Click for a larger version

Parking at the Bottom and Traveling Up

The most important buildings surround the Piazza Grande and are along the central Corso (from the beginning of the town along Via di Gracciano nel Corso). So park close to Porta al Prato to visit the Corso and if you are not able to walk to the top of the town, go to Piazza Grande. You will find a bus service called "pollicino" (orange color) that runs through the town.

From Bettolle

You will arrive at a traffic circle with traffic lights (the only traffic light in the town), go straight or turn right and you will find parking by payment (P n.1 on the map) or turn left and after the public garden you will find another lot (P n.2) .

If you are looking for a free parking, travel around the traffic circle to the left and take the road down the hill, after the supermarket Conad, turn right (below the supermarket there is another parking by payment P n. 4) and after about 500 meters park, the car behind the bus station at Piazza Nenni at P n.5 (except on Thursday for market day). To get to the town take the elevator located in front of the bus station that brings you inside the public garden Poggiofanti.

From Chiusi-Chianciano Terme

At the big crossroad by San Biagio church (located behind and below Montepulciano), turn right and follow the main road until you arrive at the traffic circle with a traffic light. If you turn right, you will go to the free parking at Piazza Nenni (see above); if you go straight or turn left you will find the other parking by payment close Porta al Prato.

Parking at the Top (Piazza Grande) and Walking Down

From Bettolle

At the traffic circle with traffic light turn left and follow the main road until you arrive at the bridge (after the bank). Turn right on the uphill and go straight. Turn right on Via dei Filosofi, (on the way along the left or at the first right you will find several parking areas labeled Pn. 8. If you park here, take the stairs to get to the top), take the second turn on your right, then the first on your left and park the car after the big gate of the town on Via San Donato, 100 meters before Piazza Grande.

From Chiusi-Chianciano Terme

At the big crossroad by San Biagio church (located behind and below Montepulciano) turn right and turn left on the uphill, then take the first turn on your left onto Via dei Filosofi and follow the same directions above.

If you are looking for other parking that will bring you in the middle of the town, there are the P n.7 and P n.6 (see the map of the town).

The Town of Montepulciano

With thanks to the Commune di Montepulciano for their contributions.

Montepulciano is situated in the south area of the senese territory, which includes the Val d’Orcia, Val di Chiana and Crete Senesi. If you stay in Montepulciano, you can reach the most important artistic towns and places of the area such as Siena, Firenze, Cortona, Pienza, Montalcino, San Quirico d’Orcia, Bagno Vignoni, Monticchiello, Orvieto, Lake Trasimeno and some ancient Etruscan tombs in Chiusi in an easy drive.

Montelpulciano's most important buildings face each other across the Piazza Grande and along the kilometer and a half of the central Corso, a "gallery" of extraordinary historical and architectural value. These palazzos are connected by two hubs: the house where the poet and humanist Angelo Poliziano (Montepulciano 1454 - Florence 1494) was born; and the neoclassical theatre that carries his name.

The Sanctuary of San Biagio has become an architectural symbol of Montepulciano. It was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the elder. The imposing travertine stone sanctuary, the principal façade flanked by two bell towers (one incomplete) and the perfect dome combine to make this an ideal example of the architectural theories of the Renaissance put beautifully into practice.

San Biagio

San Biagio in the fog

This style can also be noted in the Avignonesi, Cocconi, Cervini, Gagnoni-Grugni, Del Monte-Contucci, Ricci and Nobili-Tarugi palazzos, to name the principal ones.

In the years bridging the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Andrea Pozzo, the celebrated architect, adorned Montepulciano with, among other things, the imposing Church of the Gesu, the treasured church of San Bernardo and the Salone delle Feste in the Palazzo Contucci.

The Town Hall - with its tower and panoramic terrace - and the church of Sant' Agostino are fifteenth century works by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo. The architecture of the late sixteenth century can be admired in the Cathedral, the Logge del Grano and the church of the Madonna delle Grazie, designed by Ippolito Scalza.

The gothic style can be admired in the church of Sant'Agnese, outside the Gracciano entrance, the church of San Francesco on the piazza of the same name (which offers a breath-taking view of Pienza and the Val d'Orcia), and the church of Santa Maria (from where visitors can look out over the Val di Chiana).

Also noteworthy are the Pulcinella (or Punchinello) Tower, the seventeenth century Palazzo Bucelli, with its lower façade embellished with Etruscan and Roman urns, and the Marzocco Column that bears witness to the ties connecting Montepulciano with Florence.

Cultural Highlights

Civic (Municipal) Museum

The Municipal Museum has been housed in Via Ricci since 1954, in the fourteenth-century Palazzo Neri Orselli. The exhibits are divided into four sections: the Crociani Gallery, with about 180 paintings on display; the Montepulciano section, featuring stone exhibits; the archaeology section, with Etruscan grave goods from the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. and Roman finds; and the treasured Della Robbia terracotta section. www.museocivicomontepulciano.it

Cantinonearte Theatre

Born in 2003 through a huge cultural and economic effort by the Association of "Il Grifo and Il Leone" and the artistic director Claudio Borgoni, the 400 square meters of the ancient warehouses have been completely restored and returned to new with two theatrical areas and a large gallery for exhibitions. www.ilcantinonearte.it

Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte

Every summer, the inspiring Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte Review brings opera, theatre, classical and contemporary music, the arts and multimedia performances to Montepulciano. Hans Werner Henze founded the review in 1976, in order to bring together established artists and young talent. The performances take place throughout the town, in the streets of the old town centre, in the Teatro Poliziano, in the town's churches, in the Fortezza, in the galleries, and in the town's most enchanting locations. None of the artists receive payment: even the most distinguished participate for food and lodging. www.fondazionecantiere.it

The Fortezza

The massive, imposing Fortezza is situated a few steps from the Piazza Grande, in a secluded position, almost "protected" by its genteel Italian garden. It is probably one of the oldest buildings in the city: it was built on the site of an ancient Roman temple dedicated to the god Mercury. Today, its nineteenth century wing has been restored (thanks to the combined efforts of the Council and the producers of the Consorzio del Vino Nobile), and the Fortezza has become an important cultural centre of Montepulciano.

It will soon become a point of reference for the excellence of Montepulciano wine (hosting the offices of the Consorzio, a Wine Shop and areas for exhibitions, wine tastings and other initiatives).

European Academy of Music and Arts in Palazzo Ricci and The Music Institute

Montepulciano has treats for all the senses, and our sense of hearing is certainly not neglected: music is an integral part of the city's cultural heritage, and plays an ever more important role in contemporary life. Allow your ears to guide you, following melodies drifting from the salons of the Palazzo Ricci, the seat of the European Academy of Music and the Arts, during the Master Classes that gather the best students from Conservatories all over the world, or from the Istituto di Musica, where 400 students of every age are taught. Catch snatches of Italian being spoken by students from all over the world at Il Sasso Language School, where people come to learn Italian as a second language, and improve their language skills. www.palazzoricci.com

Bravio delle Botti

The Bravio is a contest between the eight districts of Montepulciano that takes place the last Sunday of August: the winning district is the first to arrive in the Piazza Grande, after their two representatives have rolled an 80 kg (roughly 176 pounds) barrel up a tortuous route through the streets of the city. During that week, go to eat in the eight districts, it will be a wonderful experience to taste typical meals from the local women! www.braviodellebotti.com

Bruscello

The Bruscello is an original musical production, performed by amateurs and local people, that takes place in the Piazza Grande on or around on 15th August presenting age-old stories based on epic, chivalrous events, or tales concerning matters of interest to the community and the territory. www.bruscello.it

OneTicket

During the high-season (June-September), you can buy "the oneticket", a very cheap ticket to visit the Municipal Museum, the Sant' Emidio Oratorio, San Bernardo Church and San Girolamo Conservatorio and the terrace of the Town Hall. Price: €9 per person, with a discount for children and groups. Buy it at the Tourist Office – Piazza Don Minzoni, 1 (close to the traffic circle mentioned above with the traffic lights).

Spa

Three kilometers from Montepulciano, you will find Terme di Montepulciano that offers several health and beauty treatments based on the exclusive properties of the thermal waters coming up from the ground. Treatments with thermal mud, anti-fatigue massages and hydro-massages, vapor showers and swimming pools are available to restore your health, your wellbeing and your beauty.

More so, the area surrounding Montepulciano offers so many other places famous for their spring water that in less than 40 minutes drive, you can reach Chianciano Terme, Bagno Vignoni, Bagni San Filippo, Rapolano Terme, and San Casciano dei Bagni.

Shopping

The best way to enjoy the visit to a new town is to look at it through the eyes of those who live there since who better know all its hidden secrets. So, when you reach Montepulciano, come and meet the local craftsmen: you will see how they craft their gold, copper, wood, mosaic and ceramic.

Copper - Bottega del Rame (Via Opio nel Corso, 64) www.rameria.com

Gold - Aliseda Laboratorio Orafo (Via Opio nel Corso, 8) www.aliseda.it

Wood (inlaid work) - Frassineti Arnaldo (Via Opio nel Corso) www.arnaldofrassineti.com

Ceramics - BAE Ceramiche, Bottega Artigiana Etrusca (Via Opio nel Corso, 16) baeceramiche.com

Ceramic Classes - Fare Arte di Delli Iaconi Simona (Via Opio nel Corso, 38) Ceramics, Oil-painting and Watercolors. Phone: 0578 758786

Mosaics - Laboratorio Mosaici Artistici Di Mazzetti Albo - (Via di Cagnano, 4 ang. via dell'Opio nel Corso) www.laboratoriomosaici.com

Leather - I Maledetti Toscani (Via Voltaia nel corso, 40/44/46) www.maledettitoscani.com and CL Factory (Via Voltaia nel corso, 10 e 96) www.clfactory.it

Products from the Land

Nobile Wine

Montepulciano is famous throughout the world, but not only for its natural and architectural beauty: the city is synonymous with the product that bears its name. The Vino Nobile is the first wine in Italy to bear the DOCG seal of quality but its qualities have been recognized since more remote times. As Francesco Redi said in 1685, "...of all wines, Montepulciano is King." Records show that the wine of Montepulciano has been referred to as the "Vino Nobile" since at least the end of the eighteenth century. The Vino Nobile has been a constant throughout these years: from the wine of popes and nobles until today where has become a product appreciated by wine lovers around the world.

Its soul is the Sangiovese grape (the Prugnolo Gentile variety in Montepulciano). After two years ageing in barrels or casks the wine attains its unmistakable flavor, making it recognizable and giving it a strong territorial identity. The Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Enoteca Wine Shop is situated in the historical Palazzo del Capitano in the Piazza Grande. Visitors can find out more about the varietal and taste wines produced by members of the consorzio.

If you want to have wine tasting inside the town, visit Enoteca La Bottega del Nobile (Via di Gracciano nel corso, 95). For a good selection from many Montelpulciano's Wineries you should visit Antico Caffè Poliziano (Via Voltaia nel corso, 27/29), which is a part of the "Historic Places of Italy" and enjoy a wine tasting on the beautiful terrace with a wonderful view over the Valdichiana.

Do not miss a visit to Cantina de' Ricci (just a few steps from Piazza Grande below the elegant Palazzo Ricci), one of the most ancient and beautiful in the world, excavated into the soft tufaceous soil, roofed by a monumental succession of arches and sustained by massive pillars which together remind us of a Romano-Gothic Cathedral, the sight is absolutely breathtaking. The cellar is open every day from 10.30am to 7.00pm.

Avignonesi Winery

Barrels at the Avignonesi Winery

Or if you want to visit a winery around Montepulciano, my favorites (and they are available to give you a wine tour by reservation) are:

  • Boscarelli (Via Montenero, 26 Cervognano di Montepulciano). To get there, from the supermarket Conad, go straight and follow the way for Cervognano. www.poderiboscarelli.com
  • Poliziano (Via Fontago, 1 Montepulciano Stazione). To get there, from Montepulciano, follow the signs for Montepulciano Stazione; the winery is 1 km before the town of Montepulciano Stazione. www.carlettipoliziano.com
  • Valdipiatta (Via della Ciarliana, 25/A Montepulciano). To get there from Montepulciano, follow the signs for the hospital, 1km before the hospital turn right; you will see a big sign for Valdipiatta. www.valdipiatta.it
  • Avignonesi (Via Colonica, 1 Valiano di Montepulciano). to get there from Montepulciano follow signs for Montepulciano Stazione, after passing through Montepulciano Stazione follow signs for Valiano. It's 3km after Valiano, on the right - you will see their sign. www.avignonesi.it

Other Products

There are many other products that come from these lands famous in the world for their taste and quality.

  • Chianina beef: if you love red meat, this is the best in this area! The meet (and cows) takes its name from the Val di Chiana.
  • Cinta Senese pork: (the first meat in Europe to qualify for PDO registration). Taste the Cinta Senese salumi, in restaurants - delicious!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: a unique taste of the hillside olive groves. If you want to be sure to buy a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil, buy it at local farms. Often the agritiourismo at which you stay may sell their own or make recommendations for your purchases.
  • Pecorino cheese: the cheese owes its flavor to the climate and the territory, which are ideal for sheep grazing. On the Central Corso in Montepulciano, you will find many local shops that sell it.
  • Wheat: the gold of the Val di Chiana, it is used to produce flour that is perfect for making pasta, such as the local pici.

Restaurants

My favorite restaurants to taste the typical meals in Montepulciano:

  • A Gambe di Gatto (Via Opio nel corso, 34): many things to taste with a selection of excellent wines, very cozy and quiet, experienced and friendly owner. SlowTrav Reviews for A Gambe di Gatto
  • La Pentolaccia (Via Voltaia nel corso, 86): very good quality for a very good price, very friendly service. Typical meals but also very good fish! Make a reservation; they have only a few tables. www.lapentolaccia.com
  • Osteria del Conte (Via di San Donato, 19): nice restaurant close to Piazza Grande with typical cooking, very nice people. SlowTrav Reviews for Osteria del Conte
  • Osteria dell' Acquacheta (Via del Teatro, 2): if you want to taste a big steak, make a reservation. Closed on Tuesdays. SlowTrav Reviews for Osteria dell' Acquacheta
  • Le Logge del Vignola (Via delle Erbe, 6): fine cuisine, good service and selection of excellent wines. SlowTrav Reviews for Le Logge del Vignola
  • Ristorante La Grotta: housed in a beautiful sixteenth century building in front of San Biagio (at the bottom of the hill). Their cooking is refined and reservations strongly suggested. Closed on Wednesdays. SlowTrav Reviews for La Grotta

Things to Do to Enjoy Montepulciano

  • Take a walk between the ancient palazzos through 2500 years of history
  • Visit the artisan workshops
  • Visit an old cellar in the town excavated into the soft tufaceous
  • Taste the Chianina steak and the famous pasta handmade “pici”
  • Take a cooking class to learn how we make “pici”. Many agriturismo in the area (and some restaurants) offer this activity. Ask when booking.
  • Climb the tower of the Town Hall to see the Piazza Grande and the three lakes on the horizon
  • Visit Montepulciano lake to watch the migratory birds
  • Have a wine tour in a beautiful and famous winery that produces Nobile wine
  • Take a wellness break in some thermal water
  • If the agriturismo at which you stay allows, take part in the grape harvest
  • Take part in the olive harvest and go to visit the oil press to see how we make the good Extra Virgin Olive Oil. While this activity may not be an organized activity which you can reserve, some agritiurismo that harvest their own olives (like ours) will let you participate
  • Participate in the many cultural initiatives that take place during the year.

Sunset from Montepulciano

Sunset from Montepulciano

Events in Montepulciano During the Year

  • Mid February: Nobile Wine Tasting Preview
  • Last week in May: Open Wineries
  • From Mid June to August: Nobile Wednesdays Wine Tasting
  • July: Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte
  • 10 August: Calici di Stelle
  • Mid August: Bruscello
  • Last Sunday of August: Bravio delle Botti – Barrel Race
  • September: Nobile Wednesdays Wine Tasting And Live Rock Festival in Acquaviva
  • Early October: Grape Harvest
  • November: Olive Harvest - the new olive oil
  • December: Christmas Markets and San Silvestro Feast
  • From November to March: Theatre Season at Teatro Poliziano
  • All Year Around: Concerts at Ex-Macelli hall and at European Academy of Music and the Arts in Palazzo Ricci.

Resources

Agriturismo La Bruciata - located just outside Montepulciano

Commune of Montepulciano: www.comune.montepulciano.siena.it

Consorzio del Vino Nobile: www.consorziovinonobile.it

Civic (Municipal) Museum: www.museocivicomontepulciano.it

Cantinonearte Theatre: www.ilcantinonearte.it

Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte: www.fondazionecantiere.it

Palazzo Ricci: www.palazzoricci.com

Bravio delle Botti: www.braviodellebotti.com

Bruscello: www.bruscello.it

Bottega del Rame: www.rameria.com

Aliseda Laboratorio Orafo: www.aliseda.it

Frassineti Arnaldo: www.arnaldofrassineti.com

BAE Ceramiche: baeceramiche.com

Laboratorio Mosaici Artistici Di Mazzetti Albo: www.laboratoriomosaici.com

I Maledetti Toscani: www.maledettitoscani.com

CL Factory: www.clfactory.it

Boscarelli Winery: www.poderiboscarelli.com

Poliziano Winery: www.carlettipoliziano.com

Valdipiatta Winery: www.valdipiatta.it

Avignonesi Winery: www.avignonesi.it

La Pentolaccia: www.lapentolaccia.com

Southern Tuscany Vacation Rental Reviews (including Montepulciano)

Southern Tuscany Restaurant Reviews (including Montepulciano)

Tuscany Hotel Reviews (including Montepulciano)

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Tuscany Restaurant List

Discuss this article


Laura Duchini lives in Montepulciano, Italy and is the owner operator of Agritourismo La Bruciata with four apartments for vacation rentals and a restaurant on property.

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