Montepulciano is an elegant Renaissance village that stands on a hill between Val d’Orcia and Valdichiana. Visiting Montepulciano will make you fall in love. A succession of artisan shops, historic cellars carved into the rock, imposing Renaissance palaces and splendid churches. Looking in every direction you will see the most classic idea of the Tuscan countryside with waves of hills, vineyards, golden fields and cypresse trees. We are in the land of Noble wine, an excellent wine that you can taste in the wine shops and restaurants you will meet during your visit. The best way to visit Montepulciano and its historic center is to walk it, starting from the lower part of the city. From Porta al Prato follow the main street that leads to the top of the village to the beautiful Piazza Grande.
A WALK IN MONTEPULCIANO
We suggest you to start your visit from the lower part of the city. You can look for parking near the garden of Poggiofanti or the Church of Sant’Agnese. You will enter the historical center from Porta al Prato and you will immediately find yourself in the main street in a succession of historical cellars, wine bars, artisan shops and restaurants.
Arrived in the first square you will find the Column of the Marzocco. From here every year, on the last Sunday of August, starts the characteristic race of the Bravio delle Botti. An event in which the eight districts of Montepulciano challenge each other, pushing a barrel to Piazza Grande (think about it while walking along the steep streets of the town). On the ground you will see the starting grid in marble.
Continue your walk always following the main street. Here the road begins to rise and beautiful stately buildings overlook the street, one behind the other, to symbolize the past power of the noble families of Montepulciano. Next you will meet the Church of Sant’Agostino with its staircase. The church overlooks a small square with a curious tower house with the figure of Pulcinella beating the hours of a large clock. It is very curious that Pulcinella, Neapolitan par excellence, is located in Montepulciano. It seems that it was a gift from the bishop of Naples to the city of Montepulciano. Between shops and cellars, typical products and good wine, the road becomes steeper up to Piazza dell’Erbe with its loggias. Here you can treat yourself to a first stop. Continue always following the Course. From here there are a series of alleys and stairways, picturesque corners that lead up to Piazza Grande.
We suggest you continue along the main street and then turn right onto the steep Via del Teatro. This is the best point of view to get to Piazza Grande.
At the top of the hill you will begin to see the Tower of the Tow Hall. After a few steps, a breathtaking spectacle will open before your eyes. All around the square are the main public palaces: the Cathedral rough and imposing, the Town Hall reminiscent of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the Pozzo dei Grifi, the Palazzo del Capitano and the sumptuous palaces of the noble Contucci and Tarugi.
This square has always been the heart of the city and still today is the stage of the most important events. Exciting and scenic, Piazza Grande in Montepulciano has been chosen several times as a film set and in the summer it becomes a theater under the sky and the stars. Here are held the concerts of the International Art Cantiere of Montepulciano, the Bruscello Poliziano, a sung drama staged by the inhabitants of Montepulciano, Calici di Stelle and Bravio delle Botti just to name a few. During the Christmas period Montepulciano comes alive with the Christmas markets and the Santa Claus home.
THE BRAVIO DELLE BOTTI
The last week of August, the entire historic center is illuminated and transformed with the flags and the colors of the 8 districts. On Sunday the square becomes a riot of flags. It is on this day that Montepulciano lives the most intense emotions. The 8 districts challenge each other in an exciting race along the streets of the town. For each district, two men push a barrel of 80 kg from the lower part of the village to Piazza Grande. A week of events and historical re-enactments not to be missed.
SAN BIAGIO TEMPLE
At this point you know almost all of Montepulciano, to point out only one last attraction: the Temple of San Biagio that rises outside the walls at the foot of the country. We suggest you reach it by car. San Biagio is a magical place, a unique and imposing travertine sanctuary with a very particular shape, visible from the top of the city or coming from Pienza. The San Biagio temple is one of the best examples of Renaissance art in Montepulciano.