Montepulciano (Siena)

‘Wine City’ Montepulciano is visible from the house, glittering on the horizon at sun down.  Montepulciano countryside begins about 5 minutes from the house whilst the city centre is 15 minutes away.

montepulciano, the well in the main square

We see the city at its best aspect (in our opinion) every time we return from the supermarket; rounding the final bend before home there is Montepulciano in the middle distance looking every inch the mount.  A Mountain capped with a walled city.  With the extinct Volcano Monte Amiata apparently just beyond it at it’s left it makes quite a scene.  But no matter how you approach it Montepulciano’s visual impact is the stuff of fairy-tales.

view from montepulciano

Perhaps most dramatic during the cooler months, in Winter mists it can appear as if floating on cloud.  The highest point around these parts, it offers a superb vantage point – such that Leonardo da Vinci projected his ‘bonifico‘ or making-good of Tuscany’s ancient wetlands from here, transforming the landscape and fortunes of Tuscany forever.

da vinci's valley 2

montepulciano you can see for miles and miles

Local centre of administration, art, theatre, music and wine the ‘Vino Nobile di Montepulciano’; is made in this territory.  The streets are steep but offering welcome shade and a cooler visit in the height of Summer.  Naturally follows that penetrating cold and winds can be the flavour of a Winter visit; where the tourist focussed activities close their doors and only the real inhabitants, for the most part, are left.  If visiting in Winter wrap be sure to dress very warmly.

montepulciano approaching from the bottom working up

A town with a dual personality; start at the bottom of town and work your way up if you don’t mind feeling very much the tourist – start at the top of town to experience something of the towns true nature as your first impression.

maledetti toscani close up shop front
The inventive and unusual and very old Tuscan leather shop I Maledetti Toscani

Interesting shopping; a haven for Artisan Leather seekers, wine tasting, town hiking and exploring and long long views, WE LOVE: the main square or Piazza with it’s beautiful Travertine well, vaulted Loggia and imposing, rugged cathedral walls, the views beyond the Terra Cotta roofs of the houses.  The vigilant cats loitering around the Copper – Worker’s Atelier.  The old Theatre and the sweet old couple who run the bar right next door.

Glorious Interiors in the Caffe Poliziano
Glorious pastries too

We might take coffee at the classic CAFFE POLIZIANO local style; a quick Cappuccino and exquisite pastry at the bar, or, on a very clear day pay a little extra for table service on their magical little scenic balcony for two.  Just opposite find Montepulciano’s oldest shop the MALEDETTI TOSCANI for nice quality hand made leather goods. For tasting wine in town we like LA GATTA VECCHIA cellars, you’ll have passed them on one of the bends on your way to park your car if you started at the top….For a casual good lunch with friends we might also eat at Caffe Poliziano or maybe LA PENTOLACCIA. For a romantic supper on a Summer evening we like dining in the garden at RISTORANTE LA GROTTA just below the city walls at SAN BIAGIO…on a cooler night we love the legendary OSTERIA ACQUACHETA

THE DRIVE 15-20 minutes from Siena House. PARK in the San Donati car park at the top of town or somewhere near the roundabout at the bottom end. VISIT any time although bear in mind that only restaurants will tend to be open between 13.00 and 16.00. SPECIAL EVENTS the annual Barrel Rolling contest and the CANTINONE D’ARTE art and music festival DON’T MISS the main square & the Torture Museum, the Caffe Poliziano and the Duomo. ITINERARY a few hours in Montepulciano combines well with some local Vineyard WINE TASTING, a trip to CHIUSI & the ETRUSCAN TOMBS, a walk around hill towns MONTEFOLLONICO, PIENZA, a visit to LA FOCE estate and gardens (good on a Wednesday) or a winding drive into the VAL D’ORCIA.

Siena House is a boutique hotel in Tuscany with British owners.  We write and photograph Tuscany year round as a resource for our guests publishing our insider guide to Tuscany and our blog, Tuscany Reportage.

Photography by Alina Memet