When one thinks of Italy, he is easily reminded of amazing food, a sophisticated culture and most especially, wine! There are a lot of notable cities in Italy including Venice and its Grand Canals, Rome and its nods to ancient times, and there is even the great and grand Vatican City. For all its worth, Italy might just be the most important place to visit before you kick the bucket. The standard names aside, there are a lot of other places in Italy that you could visit for a quaint and simple experience. We are not just talking about Sicily though. Maybe you should try visiting the small hill town of Montepulciano.
Located in the Italian province of Siena in the southern region of Tuscany, Montepulciano is a small town and commune that is deeply inspired by the medieval and Renaissance era. From the houses of the inhabitants to the streets that guide the way, there is a touch of times gone by in Montepulciano.
Aside from its seemingly untarnished ambiance, Montepulciano is also known as a major producer of food and drinks in Italy. More specifically, it is known for its quality pork, cheese, pasta and honey, and of course, wine. Its most famous wine is made from Montepulciano grape which is often considered as one of Italy’s finest source of wine.
- 1 Montepulciano History
- 2 How To Get To Montepulciano?
- 3 What Is The Climate In Tuscany?
- 4 When is the Best Time to Visit Montepulciano?
- 5 Montepulciano Day Trip Activities
- 5.1 Admire its architecture
- 5.2 Have a taste of Montepulciano
- 5.3 Explore Montepulciano museums
- 5.4 Go wine tasting
In terms of history, much of Montepulciano’s past is left to stories and legends passed down from generation to generation. According to legend, its earliest origin story could date back to when it was founded by the Etruscan King Lars Porsena of Chiusi. The recent studies have proven that Montepulciano has indeed existed in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. During the Ancient Roman period, it was believed to be the seat of a garrison.
After a great war and right after the Western Roman Empire fell, the town was used as a religious center under the Lombards. It was under years of turmoil as it was constantly attacked by the Republic of Siena. Then just when it endured the struggles caused by attacking factions, Montepulciano was stuck in internal political turmoil as local noble families fought for power during the 14th century. The issues were only settled up until the Del Pecora family got the rights to become the somewhat leaders of the town.
As an ally and possession of Florence, Montepulciano flourished from 1390 up to the mid-16th century. At that time, its structures and the town we see today began to form under the guidance of renowned architects and craftsmen such as Ippolito Scalza, Antonio da Sangallo, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola just to name a few.
When Italy was unified, Montepulciano became an important center for agriculture and it was able to provide the needs of most towns surrounding it. However, since the architectural revolution is the town was already over, there were fewer structures being built. As such, Montepulciano was not able to expand further.
Of course, it is not enough for us to describe Montepulciano’s cultured history as it would be better if you see it for yourself. Before anything else though, there are a few things you should know about this town at the heart of Tuscany.
How To Get To Montepulciano?
If you are indeed planning a trip to this small town, then you’ll need to make a few side trips as there are no airports in Montepulciano. What we can advise though is for you to plan a trip to Italy and make Montepulciano a part of your journey. Since it is small town, you can explore all of its important landmarks in just a few days or so.
Montepulciano can be reached via a minor rail line and small train station which is just a few kilometers away. From the rail lines, you can take one of the buses that run hourly. Alternatively, you can head to nearby Tuscany towns including Siena and Pienza. The buses run through these areas as well. Do take note however that if you are planning to go to Montepulciano, there are Sundays wherein the trips are off.
Once you are inside the city walls, traffic is banned meaning you cannot bring any rented cars inside the area. This is all good though as you will get the chance to experience Montepulciano at its finest while walking. If you are coming with a rented car, then you could park around San Biagio which is just a few minutes of walking away from town. You can also find car parks at the eastern end of the city and on your way back, you can pass by Porta al Prato and Piazza Savonarola. Perhaps the most accessible car park is on Piazza Don Minzoni which is free during winter.
While it may seem like quite the bother to walk around on your vacation, trust us when we say that this will be all worth it. Tuscany is a place that’s worth exploring through and through. You wouldn’t want to miss out on some amazing sights and experiences while you’re on a car.
What Is The Climate In Tuscany?
If you are going to plan your visit inline with the current climate conditions, then you need to look at the overall forecast in Tuscany and not just in Montepulciano itself as chances are, you are going to want to explore the whole province. That being said, the climate in Tuscany varies on the landscape on the area. For Montepulciano, the weather is typically bright and sunny. Do not worry too much about the heat though as the breeze keeps the area cool.
Overall, the entirety of Tuscany has a fairly breezy climate. Unless it is right in the middle of summer, you don’t have to worry about the intense heat too much. That means you don’t have to worry about your clothing. Ideally, you’d want to bring clothes that are not too thick or thin. Unless you are visiting during winter, don’t worry about cold protection.
When is the Best Time to Visit Montepulciano?
The best time to visit Montepulciano in terms of climate is during the months of April, May, June, September and October. There are sunny days and rainy days but nothing ranges within the extremes. Do note, however, that these are the busiest and possibly the most expensive months to plan a trip as well. If you don’t want the summer heat, then try to avoid July and August as temperatures could hit high numbers. Regardless of the climate, Montepulciano is a must-visit due to the activities that it can offer.
Truthfully, Montepulciano is a great place to visit all year round. You’re left with the question of whether or not you’re willing to brush shoulders with other tourists. We suggest visiting during the first weeks of April, that way, the peak season for tourism is yet to really kick in. Also, make sure to book your accommodation and flights months or weeks ahead of the trip so you can get discounts at least.
And speaking of activities, here are some of the things that you can do in Montepulciano. These activities aren’t as many as what other cities can offer but it sure is going to be memorable too.
Montepulciano Day Trip Activities
Small isn’t always bad. When it comes to Italy’s small villages, you will not get disappointed. Montepulciano, for instance, may be one of the small towns that you can find in Italy. In spite of that, it is one of the places that have several things to talk big about. Aside from the beautiful sceneries and structures that it has to offer, it also has several other attractions that are breathtaking which makes this small municipality in Italy worth the visit. If you are in Italy or if you’re planning a trip to Italy, try adding Montepulciano to your itinerary and see its beauty for yourself.
We personally think that going to Tuscany solely for visiting Montepulciano is a bad idea as you can do so much more in a few days or so. While you’re planning on visiting Montepulciano, it might be a great opportunity to visit other Italy tourist destinations such as Rome, Venice, and Florence. Italy is an amazing country and once you visit all of its best destinations, you’ll understand why.
Here are some Montepulciano day trip activities that you can do for a day trip.
1Admire its architecture
One thing to admire about Montepulciano is the structure of its buildings. And exploring it is one of the best Montepulciano day trip activities that will make your Italy trip more memorable. Italy is surrounded by a lot of magnificent buildings that are mostly created by famous Renaissance architects. You’ll see buildings with beautiful facades, columns, arches, windows, walls, domes, etc. To get a better idea of what such architectural structure is like and why is it something worth talking about, try visiting these churches.
These buildings were created centuries ago and thanks to the efforts of the local government and its people, Montepulciano’s establishments were preserved throughout the years. In doing so, they are also able to preserve their rich history and culture. We expect the city to keep all of its landmarks in perfect health decades and even centuries from now as it is one of the top reasons why people visit Montepulciano in the first place.
Duomo di Montepulciano
This cathedral was built between 1586 and 1680 and designed by Ippolito Scalza. However, its facade’s stonework, which was made to supposedly support a more decorative piece, was left undone until today. Still, it’s one of the beautiful structures to admire in Montepulciano.
One of the highlights in this cathedral is the figure of Bartolomeo Aragazzi, made by Michelozzo di Bartolommeo, which you can find to the left on the main doorway. Also, don’t miss to look at the 15th- century painting of the Assumption made by Taddeo di Bartolo.
This church was erected from 1518 to 1545 made by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, showing the influence of Donato Bramante. Its exteriors are not just a sight to behold but its interiors as well – from the roof to its flooring. In fact, its floors are made of gold-colored travertine. And even if a part of it was left unfinished like the Duomo, it still is one of the bewitching architectural structures in Italy. As a matter of fact, it is considered as one of the finest architectural structures of the Renaissance period.
The churches in Italy have always been known for their grandeur and structure. Obviously, San Biago’s is one of the best there is. While it may not be as grand as other churches in Europe, it’s hard to deny that it does hold a place in the hearts of tourists worldwide because of its simplicity.
Built in the 1820s, Sant’Agostino is considered as the oldest remaining church building found in Montepulciano. Restorations, however, in the late 1700s changed its interiors a lot. Still, its beauty never fades away. One of the things to look out for in this church is its beautiful renaissance facade along with the terracotta relief structure in the decorative wall surface above its door, which was made by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo.
Sant’Agostino’s interior are its true attraction. The church is best known for drawing in crowds of tourists annually. One thing to note is that you may need to visit early if you want to avoid heavy crowds. The crowds peak during the afternoon so this time is best avoided unless you want people photobombing your shots.
Santa Maria dei Servi
Don’t be fooled by how it looks on the outside. While simple, the church of Santa Maria dei Servi is an amazing place to visit.
The church of Santa Maria dei Servi is also a sight to see. It has an exterior made with Gothic style and has an interior of Baroque. One of the highlights here is the mural of Madonna della Santoreggia from the Sienese school. You can also get to see a mural of the crucifixion and a painted panel of Madonna and Child.
If you are going to visit this place, one thing to keep in mind is that the parking space is relatively small. Unless you are walking to get to this place, be sure to arrive early so as you can still park you car nearby.
Dedicated to the town’s patron saint, St. Agnes of Montepulciano, this church is also not to be missed. Like the other churches in Montepulciano, it also has an appealing structure. There are also frescos inside that are definitely a sight to see.
One of the main attractions of this church are its paintings and murals. You might want to bring your camera along for a few shots at these amazing pieces of art. Remember, don’t touch anything regardless of how amazing it looks.
2Have a taste of Montepulciano
They say that food lets you know a bit more about a place. You see, every dish has its own story. It can tell people’s ways of life, values, and whatnot. And so, if you want to know more about Montepulciano, it is best to try out its food too. Like the other Montepulciano day trip activities, trying out this town’s restaurants is also a must.
Italy has always been touted as every foodie’s dream destination and you can understand why during a visit to Montepulciano. They say that authentic Italian cuisine is the best there is and once our trip to Montepulciano was done, we couldn’t agree more.
In spite of this town’s size, it still has a lot of restaurants that will fill you with tasty dishes. Here are some of them.
Osteria Acquacheta is one of the best restaurants in Montepulciano that we can recommend. Not only does its dishes taste superb but their menu changes weekly too. A good reason to come back time and again, right?
If you want to have a unique dining experience, head on to La Grotta. No exotic foods here, though. Rather, this restaurant combines the traditional ingredients with the modern ones so you get contemporary dishes that will make each visit a surprise.
Piccola Trattoria Guastini
Dining at Piccola Trattoria Guastini is also one of the top Montepulciano day trip activities to do. This is because this restaurant will not just fill your tummy with good food but will also fill your eyes with some of the best views that Montepulciano can offer.
A dinner at Piccola Trattoria Guastini is certainly one of the best treats you can give to your love one. Be sure to dine at night so you can enjoy a romantic evening for two with a candlelit dinner.
3Explore Montepulciano m
If you want to know more about Montepulciano and delve deeper into its past, aside from trying out its cuisine, exploring its museums is also one of the Montepulciano day trip activities that we, along with other tourists and even its locals, highly recommend. Even if Montepulciano doesn’t have many museums to offer like other big cities around the world, visiting them will still give you more knowledge about this small town or even change the way you think.
This museum is filled with archeological finds and medieval and Renaissance period paintings that depict stories about the town’s past, Gods and men, etc. There are also several terracottas made by Andrea
Museo della Tortura
4Go wine tasting
Your list of Montepulciano day trip activities will not be complete without tasting its wine. Montepulciano is known for its wine. That said, if you’re in this small town, don’t miss out trying its famous wines such as the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the Montepulciano Nobile. Here are some of the places to try it in and around Montepulciano.
- Cantine Fanetti
- Villa S. Anna
- Fattoria Pulcino
- Gattavecchi WInery
- De’ Ricci Cantine Storiche
- Azienda Agricola Canneto
These places offer guided wine tours where you can get a closer look at how each of their wines is made. On top of that, these wineries also let you dig into their history. In addition to that, some of these wineries have their own plantations and you can get to see them as you go on a tour as well. Savor the taste of each wine as you get to know each of these wineries.
Montepulciano, indeed, is just a small town. It’s so small that exploring it won’t even take you two days. In spite of its size, it has several activities and attractions to offer that
That said, if you’re looking for a place that offers more laid back things to do or if you’re looking for a quick side trip in Tuscany, Italy, visiting Montepulciano is a must. Some Montepulciano activities might cost you some bucks, though. Even so, they are definitely worth every penny.
Have you decided to add this in your itinerary yet? Or have you been here and tried these activities? How did it go? Tell us in the comments below.