19 June 2011

Discovering Montepulciano high atop the golden hills of Tuscany, Italy

Montepulciano – quaint medieval streets wind their way around the citadel. All photography is property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The allure of Tuscany with its picturesque landscapes and medieval towns perched high atop the golden hills has attracted visitors to this region of Italy for decades, if not centuries, and Montepulciano is just one of many historical citadels throughout Tuscany that beckon visitors to come and explore its medieval streets and piazzas. Mostly known for its regional Vino Nobile wines, a visit to Montepulciano delivers on the promise of that quintessential Tuscan experience that you imagine as you picture yourself on a journey under the Tuscan sun to ancient cities brimming with Italian life!

Montepulciano – view of surrounding Tuscan countryside
Throughout the centuries, Montepulciano was ruled alternately by its neighbors Siena and Florence until 1511 when Cosimo I de Medici of Florence won the quest for control. His Florentine influence can be seen throughout the city beginning with its walls designed in 1511 by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, the public buildings and private palazzos. Today, this spirit of the Renaissance is alive throughout Montepulciano.

Welcome to Montepulciano – Southern Gate

Located in southern Tuscany, Montepulciano is about one and a half to two hours south of Florence when you travel the scenic countryside roads, specifically the SR2 which leads to the general area. The magnificent sights that surround you along the way are just as awe-inspiring as the walled city of Montepulciano itself. Plan to pull over many times during your journey because as you wind your way around the Tuscan hills, another picture perfect postcard view of Tuscany awaits! Read more about driving in Tuscany.

The hilltop town of Montepulciano beckons to all who visit Tuscany.  

Suddenly Montepulciano comes into view. Perched high atop the Tuscan countryside, it rises to almost 2,000 feet above sea level and overlooks miles and miles of breathtaking Tuscan vistas. The roads meander and wind around back and forth until you’re finally at the gates. Plan to park just outside the city walls because once inside, the streets are very narrow and parking is at a premium.

Heading north from Piazza Grande
Once inside the city gates, the streets of Montepulciano surround you with medieval splendor.  Renaissance architecture is prominent throughout the charming city streets that come alive with residents and visitors to this historic hilltop town.  Head up the Corso, the main thoroughfare which winds around the medieval streets from north to south.  It's a great way to navigate during your visit.  Not sure what to see?  Along the way, be sure to stop off at the tourist office on Via di Poggiolo to gather information on the best places to visit but I have a few suggestions below.

Santa Maria Assunta or the Montepulciano Duomo with its unfinished facade was constructed between 1594 - 1680.

Montepulciano cafe and shops of Piazza Grande.

Eventually, you’ll make your way to the Piazza Grande or the city centre where you’ll find Montepulciano’s Duomo, aka Santa Maria Assunta, with its unfinished façade dating back to the 17th century; the Palazzo Comunale or Town Hall built in the 13th century and it’s no coincidence that it closely resembles the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence; the Palazzo Tarugi; and the Palazzo Contucci – where the wine-making family resides to this day and welcomes visitors to come and taste their Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the wine their family has made for centuries! Don't forget to pick up your bottle.  If you like, you can have it shipped home to enjoy as you reminisce about your time in the city.  Perhaps you want to enjoy lunch in the Piazza Grande or dinner at any of the number of restaurants throughout Montepulciano.  Lots to choose from.

The Palazzo Comunale

Just beyond the city gates at the base of the hill, don’t miss the the Church of San Biagio - a stunning masterpiece of Renaissance architecture designed and built by none other than Antonio da Sangallo the Elder from 1518 to 1545.

Here’s a quick video tour of Montepulciano with Rick Steves guiding your journey:




Arrivederci!

17 comments:

  1. Wow, what a beautiful place and great photos, Jeff! I haven't been there, but of course, it's on my list!

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  2. What glorious photos. I have never been to Italy, but I feel like I have after reading this wonderful post. Thanks for taking me there.

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  3. Hi Jenna and Ted,
    Thank you my friends for stopping by and sharing your comments. I fell in love with Montepulciano when I was there...and must get back there soon!!!

    Thank you for your kind words as well!

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  4. Wow you spent quit a lot time in Tuscany. I didn't even have a chance to visit this place. It's so beautiful and I love looking down the hill shot. Feels like a different world, isn't?

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  5. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you again for spending time on my site and sharing your comments. Yes, I spent a week in Tuscany and have so much more to share.

    Happy 4th!

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  6. Beautiful photos and great wine too ;) What more could you want from Tuscany Jeff?

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  7. I totally agree with you Robin!! All we need is the food and we are set to kick back and enjoy the Italian way of life!!! Thx for stopping by and sharing your comments!!

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  8. Thanks so much Marie-Eve for the compliment. This day trip to Montepulciano and nearby Pienza was the highlight of my second visit to Tuscany! What a thrill it was to drive in Italy!

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  9. Jeff,
    Thanks for always provoking my memories as well as my longing to return to Europe. Montepulciano is one of my favorite spots. Lunch at Ristorante La Grotto followed by a tour of San Biagio is divine (no pun intended!) Keep writing!--
    MhaolainsChild

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  10. Hi Rhonda and thank you so much for your kind words. I tell you Montepulciano was the highlight of my tour in Tuscany on this day. Haven't been to Ristorante La Grotto but it sounds fabulous!! After we left Montepulciano, we stopped in Pienza as well. Did you have a chance to see that little little top town? Delightful!! Thx for visiting and sharing your experiences with our readers!

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  11. Wow, your pics of Italy really brought back memories of my tour there with the Atlanta Boy choir, especially the one of Montepulciano (which I'd forgotten). Love the view of St Peters Square, where I sang for Pope John Paul II 5 days after my 12th birthday. Never seen it from that vantage point before. Happy New Year, Jeff!

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  12. Hi Bret,
    Wow, what a journey that must have been for you and to perform for the Pope...how enriching for your life!! I am so happy you enjoyed the pics and thank you very much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Happy New Year to you as well!

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  13. I love it up in Tuscany, so many small, beautiful and quiet towns! The Palazzo Communale looks very similar to the town hall in Florence....

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    1. Hi there Jess and thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts. You're right, the Palazzo Comunale closely resembles th Palazzo Vecchio in Florence because of the Medici's far reaching influence and their control of Siena at the time. Great observation my friend!

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  14. A gorgeous hill town that keeps some of the best wine making traditions in Tuscany.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more my friend!! Thx so much for stopping by!

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!