Montepulciano - Palazzo Comunale, tower
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Montepulciano is a medieval and hill town in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany (Italy). Montepulciano is located on a high limestone ridge at the altitude of 1985 ft (605 m) which makes the town the highest Tuscan hill town. Population of Montepulciano is about 15,000.
There are evidences that the original settlement was founded by Etruscans in 4th - 3rd centuries BC. 4th-3rd centuries BC. The name of Montepulciano derives from Latin Mons and Publicianus (Mount of Publicianus - publicanus means an ancient Roman public contractor, who erected or maintained public buildings, supplied armies overseas, or collected certain taxes).
Montepulciano did not play any important role in Roman times being just a seat of Roman garrison guarding the roads of the area. With the advent of Middle Ages, Montepulciano, as many other Italian areas, was dominated by
the Lombards (also known as Langobards). In the High and Late Middle Ages, the town became gradually involved in many feuds of the time establishing various alliances and gaining some strategic importance. Fights between the local noble families were widely spread as well. From 1390, Montepulciano became a loyal ally (and later possession) of Florence. In 1559, when Siena was conquered by Florence and Montepulciano lost its strategic role, its importance declined. After the unification of Italy and the drying of the Val di Chiana, the town was mostly known as an important agricultural center in the area.
Currently, Montepulciano remains to be a major producer of food and wine. Montepulciano is known world-wide for its fabulous wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, considered among Italy's best. Montepulciano is also known for its pork, cheese, pici (a rough and chewy type of spaghetti), lentils, and honey.
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What Makes It Special
Montepulciano is a charming Tuscan small town which with its dramatic setting on the ridge of the high hill dominates the valleys of Val di Chiana (on the west) and Val D'Orcia (on the east). Although already in existence in the 4th - 3rd centuries BC, Montepulciano is best known for its many beautiful Renaissance buildings. The Tempio di San Biagio (located very close to town walls) is considered one of the most important buildings of Renaissance and the symbol of Montepulciano. In this town you can find many masterpieces of such artists as Antonio da Sangallo Il Vecchio, Andrea Pozzo, Vignola, Michelozzo, Taddeo di Bartolo, Ippolito Scalza.
In addition to its medieval architecture and art, Montepulciano is known for the wine called Vino Nobile. Wine tasting and wine tours through many vineyards surrounding Montepulciano are activities attracting many wine lovers.
In August, Montepulciano is the place of two events: Bravio delle Botti: Barrel Race, a competition between eight town contrades, and Bruscello Poliziano, a theater where performers are not professional actors and singers.
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Directions To Destination
Rented car is the most convenient way to reach Montepulciano - it is 13 km E of Pienza; 70 km SE of Siena, 124 km SE of Florence, and 186 km north of Rome. To reach Montepulciano by train take the Rome-Florence line to Chiusi. From the station you can get a taxi or bus to Montepulciano.
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Best Time To Go
Summer and early fall. To avoid crowds and still enjoy excellent weather and sun, come the first half of September.
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Where To Stay
- Palazzo Carletti, Via Dell'Opio Nel Corso 3, 53045 Montepulciano. Palazzo Carletti is in the historic center of Montepulciano. Inside Palazzo Carletti you will find original frescoes, high ceilings and views of the Chiana Valley, Lake Trasimeno and the mountains of Cortona. Hotel has 5 rooms. Rates are €155 - 250 room/night.
- Palazzo Bellarmino (apartments), Via San Donato, 10, 53045 Montepulciano. Palazzo Bellarmino is a restored 16th century building in the center of Montepulciano just a few yards from Piazza Grande. Rates are €90-100/night
- La Locanda Di San Francesco, Piazza San Francesco 5, 53045 Montepulciano, 4 rooms. La Locanda Di San Francesco is located in a 14th century building within 5-minute walk from the Duomo. Its unique rooms overlook the Val D'Orcia and Val di Chiana valleys. Rates are €180 - 200/night.
Research and book hotels in or near Montepulciano, Italy
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Useful Visitor Information and Tips
Main landmarks and attractions include:
- The Palazzo Comunale, designed by Michelozzo in the tradition of the Palazzo della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio) of Florence.
- Palazzo Tarugi and Palazzo Contucci, attributed to Antonio da Sangallo Il Vecchio or Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola (currently closed to public).
- Chiesa (Il Tempio) di San Biagio designed by Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio (1455 - 1534). The church was built between 1518 and 1545 on the ruins of the ancient church of San Biagio. It is one of the famous examples of Renaissance architecture.
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (also known as the Duomo of Montepulciano) constructed between 1594 and 1680. Among objects of art is a masterpiece from the Sienese School, a massive Assumption of the Virgin triptych painted by Taddeo di Bartolo in 1401.
- Chiesa di Sant'Agostino (Church of St. Augustine). Founded in 1285, it was completely renovated in 15th century with Michelozzo di Bartolomeo (1396-1472) responsible for the lower part of the facade.
- Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Servi (Montepulciano, Italy). Andrea Pozzo (1642 - 1709) created the interior design in elegant baroque style.
Many tourists come to Montepulciano on a day-trip. Because if this, during day-time, you will see more people on the streets than in the evening. It is possible to explore Montepulciano in one day. But the really enjoy the town, you will need two full days.
Montepulciano is not a culinary center of Tuscany. Its food establishments fulfill mostly a very practical role - to feed coming visitors. Because of the this, although most restaurants and cafes offer good food at reasonable prices, there are few places where you can enjoy fine Italian/Tuscan cuisine. Two places we can recommend that are geared towards the fine dining (and priced accordingly)
- Ristorante La Grotta (Via di San Biagio, 15). This restaurant is located across the street from chiesa di S. Biagio.
- Ristorante Le Logge del Vignola (Via delle Erbe, 6) arguably, the best restaurant in Montepulciano.
Keep in mind that the historic center of Montepulciano is closed to all cars without a special town permit. However, most hotels provide their guest with parking places and temporary passes. Town police is very tolerant to cars with tourists and you should not have any problems with getting to your hotels if it is located inside the town walls.
- While planning your trip, keep in mind that in August there two interesting events: Bravio delle Botti: Barrel Race, a competition between eight town contrades, and Bruscello Poliziano, a theater where performers are not professional actors and singers. Bravio delle Botti takes place the last Sunday in August. Bruscello Poliziano dates may vary - check its Web site.
We have several photo galleries dedicated to Montepulciano that illustrates different aspect of Montepulciano and life in this town:
- Montepulciano (Italy) - Coming to Town
- Montepulciano (Italy) - Churches
- Montepulciano - Some Places to Eat
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