Given that this week’s dining column highlights Cucina Toscana restaurant, I thought it would be a good time to get familiar with the wines of #Tuscany. It is, after all, Italy’s quintessential wine region and the source of that country’s most important red wines: #Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and #Brunello di Montalcino.
https://www.toscanamo.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/consorzio-Brunello-di-Montalcino-vino-600x244.jpg244600ToscanAmo.comhttps://www.toscanamo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Toscanamo-Toscanamo.pngToscanAmo.com2017-06-01 13:50:072017-06-01 14:08:39Discovering the wines of #Toscana.
Sights in Montepulciano
Route 1 – GREEN Approx. 1 km – Difficulty: medium From Porta al Prato to Piazza Grande From the Local Tourist Office (Piazza Don Minzoni), walk along Viale Sangallo; entering from Porta al Prato, continue along Via di Gracciano nel Corso, Piazza delle Erbe, Via di Voltaia and Via dell’Opio, climbing towards Piazza Grande along Via del Teatro. This first route tours the Old Town starting from the main gate, at the bottom, visiting buildings, cellars and artisan boutiques, walking for about 1 kilometre along the main road and entering Piazza Grande from Via del Teatro. This square hosts numerous activities and is surrounded by historical buildings, including the Cathedral, and monumental cellars.
Route 2 – BLUE 1,200 m – Difficulty: medium-hard From Carpark 5 (Autostazione) to Piazza Michelozzo (then Piazza Grande) From Carpark 5 “Autostazione”, walk along Via delle Lettere, Via di Gozzano and Via di Borgo Buio before joining the main road in Piazza Michelozzo and continuing along route 1 (green). For camper vans or tour buses, in addition to the main road, we can also suggest entrance to the town from Via di Gozzano, using Via di Borgo Buio and, consequently, a shorter route.
Route 3 – ORANGE 300 m – Difficulty: medium From Via dell’Oriolo to Piazza Grande From Via dell’Oriolo, P7 under Porta delle Farine (often used as a stop-off point by tour buses), walk along Via delle Farine, Via del Poliziano and Via di San Donato to reach Piazza Grande. Carpark 7, used by tour buses, also allows groups to get to the higher part of the Old Town and to the square faster, using Via delle Farine or the steps leading to Via dell’Opio. Upon arrival in Piazzetta di Cagnano, there are two options to reach the square: Via del Teatro or Via del Poliziano (the second is home to monuments like the Church of Santa Maria, and historical cellars).
Route 4 – PINK 1 km – Difficulty: easy From Piazza Grande to Piazza delle Erbe From Piazza Grande, walk down Via Ricci, then Via del Poggiolo, to Piazza delle Erbe. Continue from here towards Porta al Prato. Alternatively, walk up the road (see the green route) back to Piazza Grande. In this case, the total distance will be 1,800 m. This route can be used by those who have entered the square from Via del Teatro or Via del Poliziano to go back to Porta al Prato. Via Ricci takes in a very important part of the town which is home, among other things, to the Crociani Civic Museum-Picture Gallery, Palazzo Ricci, the Library and various shops. As you walk down Via Ricci, we recommend that you stop off in Piazza San Francesco, which offers a beautiful viewpoint.
Route 5 – Red 650 m – Difficulty: medium From Carpark 8 to Piazza Grande Approx. 650 m – Difficulty: medium Part of the route is outside the Old Town, along a panoramic itinerary from which you can admire the Temple of San Biagio from above and catch a glimpse of the village of Montefollonico. This route takes you quickly to Piazza Grande, for a brief but significant visit to the monumental heart of Montepulciano.
Route 6 – Yellow 1 km – Difficulty: zero From Piazza Grande to the Temple of San Biagio From the square, walk along Via Ricci and Via di San Biagio to the Temple of San Biagio (approx. 1 km). This is a panoramic route which leads to this beautiful Renaissance church outside the old town. From here, you can take the shuttle bus back to the bus station or the various carparks outside the walls.
Montepulciano Main Street
Montepulciano’s main street – called in stages Via di Gracciano, Via di Voltaia, Via dell’Opio and Via d’Poliziano – climbs up the eastern ridge of the town from Porta al Prato and loops to meet Via di Collazzi on the western ridge. To reach the centre of town (Piazza Grande) take a dog-leg turn into Via del Teatro.
In Piazza Savonarola, up from the Porta al Prato, is the Colonna del Marzocca, erected in 1511 to confirm Montepulciano’s allegiance to Florence. The splendid stone lion, squat as a pussycat atop this column is, in fact, a copy; the original is in the town’s Museo Civico. The late-Renaissance Palazzo Avignonesi is at No 91; other notable buildings include the Palazzo di Bucelli at No 73 (look for the recycled Etruscan and Latin inscriptions and reliefs on the lower facade), and Palazzo Cocconi at No 70.
Continuing uphill, you’ll find Michelozzo’s Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, with its lunette above the entrance holding a terracotta Madonna and Child, John the Baptist and St Augustine. Opposite, the Torre di Pulcinella, a medieval tower house, is topped by the town clock and the hunched figure of Pulcinella (Punch of Punch and Judy fame), which strikes the hours. After passing historic Caffè Poliziano, the Corso continues straight ahead and Via del Teatro veers off to the right.
Montepulciano’s modest museum and pinacoteca have recently had a curatorial dream come true: a painting in their collections has been attributed to Caravaggio. The masterpiece is a characteristic Portrait of a Gentleman. Worth the entrance fee alone, it’s accompanied by high-tech, touch-screen interpretation, which allows you to explore details of the painting, its restoration and diagnostic attribution.
10am-1pm & 3-6pm Tue-Sun summer, Sat & Sun only winter
Built in the 14th-century in Gothic style and remodelled in the 15th century by Michelozzo, the Palazzo Comunale still functions as the town hall. The main reasons to head inside are to drink in the extraordinary views from the panoramic terrace and the tower – from the latter you can see as far as Pienza, Montalcino and even, on a clear day, Siena.
This wine estate, 15km northeast of Montepulciano, is part of the legendary Avignonesi company, which produces Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, Vin Santo, grappa and olive oil. Spread over 19 hectares, the estate is known for its ‘Round Vineyard’, which was designed to establish to what extent the quality of wine is influenced by density of planting and type of rootstock.
Montepulciano’s late-16th-century duomo is striking, largely because its unfinished facade gives the building an organic, heavily weathered look. Inside track down Taddeo di Bartolo’s ornate Assumption triptych (1401), behind the high altar.
The cellar “De’ Ricci” is located in the heart of the Montepulciano’s historical center, a short walk from Piazza Grande, below the Renaissance Palace “Ricci”, built by the Sienese architect Baldassarre Peruzzi, on commission of Cardinal Giovanni Ricci. The Palace houses the eponymous cellar, which allows you to appreciate the care and wisdom lavished by the noble Ricci family (now died out) in the production of wine in this extraordinary land. The cellar, whose architectural structure is reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral, during the visit, organized by the Enoteca Italiana Senese [Italian Sienese Wine Shop], of a group of highly qualified international professionals, has been called «The most beautiful cellar in the world» [article available on «Bell’Italia» n ° 95, March 1994].
Open: daily, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; in the winter period, the days, and the opening and closing times, are subject to change, so we suggest that you get in touch directly with the cellar to make sure of it.
At the upper end of Piazza Savonarola is the Colonna del Marzocca, erected in 1511 to confirm Montepulciano’s allegiance to Florence. The splendid stone lion, squat as a pussycat atop this column is, in fact, a copy; the original is in the town’s Museo Civico.
From the central Piazza Grande, Via Ricci runs downhill past Palazzo Ricci, now home to a German music academy. The street terminates in Piazza San Francesco, where you can admire still more panoramic views of the Val di Chiana.
Elegant Piazza Grande is the town’s highest point and if you think it looks familiar, it might be because it featured in New Moon, the second movie in the Twilight series based on Stephanie Meyer’s vampire novels. They shot the main crowd scene here, despite the book being set in Volterra.