What to do in Montepulciano
WHAT TO DO IN MONTEPULCIANO... IF YOU HAVE THREE HOURS
With about three hours at your disposal, you can have a taster of Montepulciano, giving the town a quick glance. The same way an aperitif whets your appetite for lunch or dinner, a brief visit could arouse your curiosity and leave you filled with the desire to come back and visit for longer, taking in everything beautiful and good that the town has to offer. The detailed explanation of the “coloured” or numbered itineraries can be found in the section “itineraries in the Historical Town Centre”.
ROUTE 1 – GREEN
For a visit of about three hours, we suggest a walking tour which can offer an overall view of the Old Town, taking in the main monuments and also visiting at least one of the monumental cellars, which will be no less interesting. Remember that Montepulciano is one of the only towns in the world to have underground cellars, and not just in the countryside.
You can start your tour at Porta al Prato, the main entrance in the lower part of the town. It can be reached by car, using one of the carparks in the area below the Porta (Gate), or by bus, stopping to let passengers off in Piazza S. Agnese.
Once through the Gate, you find yourself in the main street, Via di Gracciano, a splendid example of a combination between the preservation of history and its use in a natural shopping centre.
Here you will find the first monuments and historical buildings: the Marzocco Column, with the lion, symbol of Florence; Palazzo Avignonesi; Palazzo Bucelli, with its exterior foundation set with Etruscan and Roman inscriptions and urns; the Church of S. Agostino, the splendid façade of which bears the Gothic and Neo-classical symbolic styles that characterise the town; and the characteristic and particular Pulcinella’s Tower. From here, the climb begins to Via di Voltaia, with Caffè Poliziano, one of Italy’s historical cafés, and Palazzo Cervini.
To make the walk even more pleasant, you can stop off in one of the many little squares that open up before, maybe enjoying some excellent artisan ice cream or, if you prefer something savoury, tasting the local cured meats and cheeses. We also recommend that you visit one of the splendid monumental underground cellars of the noble buildings, to taste one of Italy’s internationally famed products of excellence: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Continuing along the road, just before coming to the main square, you will see Porta delle Farine on the left, with its beautiful view over Val di Chiana. Nearby is the house where Agnolo Poliziano was born. Walking up Via del Teatro, you will arrive in Piazza Grande, with its elegant perimeter of buildings and monuments: the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), Palazzo Nobili Tarugi and Palazzo Contucci. The square is used to host events and performances all summer long; the parvis of the Cathedral is a very large and extremely beautiful stage. The shows of Cantiere Internazionale d’arte are staged here (in July), as are the popular theatre of the Bruscello (August), the final stages of the Bravìo delle Botti (last Sunday in August), and the characteristic Christmas market (November/December).
During the whole summer season, on the other hand, it is possible to visit the tower of Palazzo Comunale, open from March to November. The building is one of the symbols of Montepulciano and its terrace offers an unforgettable view of the town. From the top of the tower you can look out over the surrounding panorama, with a 360° view. No visit, however short, would be complete without tasting local specialities and no-miles seasonal products in one of the typical restaurants.
WHAT TO DO IN MONTEPULCIANO... IF YOU HAVE A WHOLE DAY
A whole day allows you to get to know the town a bit better, making a small diversion outside the walls to visit the Temple of San Biagio (visit with the ticket), spend time wandering around the Crociani Civic Museum-Picture Gallery and taking the time to look inside a couple of monumental cellars. The detailed explanation of the “coloured” or numbered itineraries can be found in the section “itineraries in the Historical Town Centre”.
ROUTE 2 – GREEN, ORANGE, YELLOW
For this walking tour, we recommend entering the town through Porta al Prato, following the same directions given for ROUTE 1 as far as Piazza Grande.
From the square, walk down past the medieval Palazzo del Capitano, arriving in Via Ricci, seat of the building of the same name (Palazzo Ricci) and its monumental cellar.
On the right is Palazzo Neri Orselli, with the original Gothic façade, home to the Crociani Picture Gallery and Civic Museum. We strongly recommend visiting this museum, because it tells you about the origins of Montepulciano and its artistic progress over the centuries, in a fascinating itinerary which, starting from the town’s Etruscan and Roman origins, comprises medieval ecclesiastic works and Renaissance paintings, as well as the 17th and 18th century portrait collection. There is also a very interesting section of 16th century terracotta works by the Della Robbia sculptors.
The creators of works on display include famous names like Margaritone d’Arezzo (Saint Francis, 13th century), Benvenuto di Giovanni (Nativity, panel painting), Antonio Bazzi, known as Sodoma (Holy Family with Saint Giovannino) and Andrea della Robbia.
There are also two recently attributed works: Saint Agnese, on canvas, by Domenico Beccafumi; and a portrait of a gentleman, attributed to Caravaggio.
From Via Ricci, leaving behind the Old Town, you can walk down Via di San Biagio to the Temple of San Biagio (visit with the ticket). Example of Renaissance elegance and style, this big church was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, and is still one of the town’s symbols today.
The view from the Church is unique, with the hills of Val d’Orcia, the little village of Montefollonico and Val di Chiana.
The area of San Biagio is also a perfect starting point for setting out on other walking or cycling routes.
From the Church of San Biagio, you can easily return to the town centre, using the urban shuttle bus service. The service runs once an hour and stops in front of the Church (there is no service on Sunday mornings). If you want to walk to the Sant’Agnese area, you can take Via di Canneto. The route is about 2 km long and is not particularly difficult, apart from the last short uphill stretch.
WHAT TO DO IN MONTEPULCIANO... IF YOU HAVE A COUPLE OF DAYS
- ROUTES IN THE OLD TOWN