Montepulciano is a stunning hilltop town in Tuscany, sitting high on a limestone ridge in the breathtaking Val d'Orica. If you're looking for your typical picture postcard Tuscan town, this is it. Surrounded on all sides by rolling countryside, dotted with Cyprus trees and cultivated vineyards as far as the eye can see.
Head up into town and you will find an elegant historic centre encased in its medieval walls. With no major building work having taken place since 1580, it is almost as if this enchanting town has been frozen in time.
And of course, there are the surrounding vineyards stretching neatly out below, producing the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, for which this region is world famous. For wine lovers, combine with a visit to Montalcino, also situated in the Val d'Orica.
What to do
To take in its true majestic splendour, this really is a town to be savoured on foot. Enter through either one of the main gates, Porta al Prato or Porta della Farine. Inside you will find a log wide street called the Corso, from which a series of narrow alleys and streets lead off. Entering from the Porta al Prato you will pass by a selection of chic and unique shops. Wander on up to the first square and admire the Colonna del Marzocco, a large marble column with the heraldic lion of Florence.
Pass many splendid palaces before you reach the Church of Sant'Agostino. This marble church, designed by Michelozzo, and built in the 13th century, is worth a stop to appreciate its calm, peaceful beauty. Piazza Grande, the highest point in town is Montepulciano's centre, dominated by the imposing tower and gothic façade of the Palazzo Comunale. The square is lined with grand buildings as well as a lovely mix of restaurants and cafes.
Don't miss the Cathederal of Santa Maria Assunta, which dates to 1619 and contains many masterpieces. You will find it situated on the southern side of the Piazza Grande.
Also situated on the main square you will find the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) Climb the top of the tower for fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. Head out of town to the thermal springs in Montepulciano Terme. A welcome stop to soak away aches and treat ailments in its relaxing, sulphurous waters.
And of course a trip to Montepulciano wouldn't be complete without savouring its famous wines. Wandering the streets you will find several historic cantinas, underground cellars where the wines are aged, which provide the perfect tasting environment. Heading out of town stop at vineyard Cantine Fanetti, where it all began. They have been producing wine for three generations using traditional methods, which can be sampled at its year round cantina.
What to eat
For super chic dining head to La Dogana. The chef and cookbook writer owner presides over a delightful seasonal menu using produce from its own kitchen garden. For the best seats in the house head out to the grassed rear terrace and take in the breathtaking views.
Sample the local wine in E Lucevan Le Stelle. The decked terrace of this chilled wine bar is the top spot in Montepulciano to watch the sun go down. Inside offers a relaxing combination of squishy sofas, modern art and jazz music.
Situated just below town you will find La Grotta, A favourite traditional restaurant offering artfully presented local pasta, vegetables and meat all perfectly served in their divine courtyard garden.
How to get there
Montepulciano is on a minor train line, which is situated a few kilometres out of town. It is also possible to get the train to Chiusu, on the main Rome to Florence line, from where there is a bus into the town.
The easiest way to arrive is by car, although there are no cars allowed into the town itself so you will need to park at the bottom of the hill and make your way up into town on foot.
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