Picturesque Streets & Antique Wine Cellars
The many sumptuous residences and buildings you can admire while walking in the historical center still testify to the power and wealth of the noble families here during the 14th and 15th centuries, although it was in the 16th century that Montepulciano reached its highest splendour under the powerful Medici family.
You can conveniently start exploring the town, from either one of its main gates: Porta al Prato or Porta delle Farine, where the buses arriving from Siena and Florence stop.
Confined within its ancient city walls and bastions, Montepulciano is crossed by a main long and wide street called the Corso from which a series of alleys and narrow streets depart.
Passing under the imposing gate of Porta al Prato, you soon enter the Corso, full of all kinds of shops and fashionable stores. At the first square you reach, admire the Colonna del Marzocco, a marble column with the heraldic lion of Florence which also decorates many other palaces such as the Palazzo Avignonesi.
A series of sumptuous and elegant palaces succeed one after the other, until you come in front of the Church of Sant'Agostino, designed by Michelozzo, an important artist working for the powerful Medici family. The church displays a Crucifix attributed to Donatello.
Moving on, just across the street, your attention will be captured by a tower house, adorned with the curious figure of Pulcinella, striking the hours on the big clock. Indeed this figure left me a bit surprised, as it is unusual to find it in Tuscany; then I came to know that it was probably put there by a bishop of Naples, which makes sense!
Continuing on the Corso, passing further Renaissance buildings, you meet the elegant Palazzo Cervini, and nearby shortly before the road turns, you arrive at the home of Poliziano, a great humanist and poet under the patronage of the famous Lorenzo di Medici. Poliziano was also teacher to the Medici children.
The Main Square
Coming back on the Corso and soon turning on the right, you find yourself immersed in the big and beautiful Piazza Grande, the focus of the city. Just stop a minute in the middle of the square or near the lovely fountain to one side where you'll find both a lion and griffon, and feel the unique and evocative atmosphere offered by the plaza surrounded by the Duomo, the Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo Tarugi and the Palazzo Contucci.
A Tower with a View
From the top of the tower of the Palazzo del Comune a true spectacle opens before your eyes with incredible and never ending views; if you are lucky enough to find a clear day, you can even see Siena and Mount Cimone in the distance.
Continue on to the Fortezza and the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi: from here, look down and enjoy another famous sight in Montepulciano for its layout, the beautiful church of San Biagio. You can reach the church by walking downhill in about 10 minutes and enter to observe its particular shape. Standing in perfect isolation in the middle of the countryside, this mighty pilgrimage church in travertine stone is one of the best examples of Renaissance art.
If you have the chance to visit the town during summer time, you can enjoy a series of cultural and folkloric events, such as the International Arts Workshop, the Bruscello (a theatrical representation) and the Bravio delle Botti, an original race competition with wine barrels!
Montepulciano is also appreciated for its thermal waters, whose therapeutic and healing properties were enjoyed since Roman times. In today's modern thermal establishment you can choose among specific wellness treatments to recover your energy or enjoy the pleasure of a massage, a mud therapy or a hydromassage to enjoy a unique, unforgettable experience!
Getting Serious about the Wine
Together with Montalcino, Montepulciano is well known for the great production of red wine, it’s "Nobile di Montepulciano" is one of the most appreciated Italian wines in Italy and abroad. Montepulciano has a distinct peculiarity, in that you can find several historic cantinas right within the city walls, which have been dug out underneath the prestigious palazzos. A visit to this city wouldn’t be complete without exploring one or more of these wine cellars, for example, Talosa or Ercolani Azienda Agricola.
The town offers traditional tasty local dishes and specialties which you should try in one of many restaurants or trattorie in the historical center, a favorite is the hand rolled pasta "pici" with meat or cheese sauce. Try the Nobile at one of the several tiny wine bars - most of them have a panoramic terrace, so sit back and relax while sipping a glass of red wine and enjoy the stunning views of this part of Tuscany!