Montepulciano, one of the most beautiful hamlets in Tuscany
A castle and a parish (church of Santa Maria) are mentioned in 714 in some documents. These buildings were placed where now stands the Duomo (cathedral). In the 12th century, the importance of Montepulciano grew and with it grew even the urban fabric of the village that developed following the shape of the hillock on which it is located. At that time the town was provided with a new city walls. In 1232, the hamlet was conquered by Siena that razed its fortress, walls and towers.
These facilities were rebuilt, and expanded, in the second half of the 13th century. For nearly three centuries Montepulciano passed alternately under the control of Siena and Florence, while inside a merchant class was acquiring power. The development of trade was accompanied by a further growth of the urban plan.
In the early 15th century, Montepulciano came under the dominion of Florence. At that time started a process of urban rewal which continued even during the period of the House Lorraine (18th-19th centuries). Initially were restored the piazza Grande and the Town Hall. In the 16th century the town was raised to the rank of a bishopric and, during the rule of the Lorraine, the Cathedral was completed and the Teatro Poliziano was built.
During the 19th century, the Val di Chiana was reclaimed and, in 1844, the railway line was opened in the valley. This event led to displacement toward the plain of production and commercial activities.
Today the city as well as being a tourist destination is very famous for the production of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Things to do in Montepulciano
Coming from the north, Strada Provinciale 17, shortly before the town we find the Chiesa di Sant’Agnese. Built together with its convent from 1306, was expanded in the 14th century. The facade of the Church was rebuilt in 1926 but still retains the original portal.
Leaving the church at the back, we pass through the Giardino Poggiofanti (garden) and the Monumento ai caduti in guerra (monument to the war dead), to reach Porta a Prato (a city gate). The city gate, of medieval origin but renovated in XVI and in XX century, is historically the main access to the city.
Beyond the door, take via di Gracciano nel Corso the first section of the main artery of the country. A few meters away from the door meets the column of Marzocco (a symbol of Florence). There are many interesting buildings overlooking via di Gracciano; one of these is Palazzo Bucelli that has its particularity in the basement in where were walled up several Etruscan finds.
Continuing on the road, we arrive at the foot of a staircase on top of which is the Chiesa di San’Agostino. It is a single-nave church with a semicircular apse founded in 1285 and completely renovated in 1429. This church has a remarkable facade in travertine built between the 15th and 16th centuries.
In front of the church we report the Clock tower known as Torre di Pulcinella because of the unusual statue on top of the Neapolitan mask.
Continuing to climb the hill we come in Piazza delle Erbe. From here we continue following via di voltaia del Corso, via dell’Opio nel Corso, via del Poliziano and via San Donato and finally we reach the top where we find the most important monuments of Montepulciano.
Cited from the 8th century, the fortress was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current building is the result of nineteenth-century restoration that gave it the “original” style.
Piazza Grande, the heart of Montepulciano
Piazza Grande (Big Square), the political and religious center of the city, is the seat of the most important buildings . Here we find the Duomo (Cathedral), the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) and the buildings of Nobili-Tarugi and of Monte Contucci.
The cathedral was built between the 1592 and the 1630. This large church has a facade, unfinished, with three portals and three windows. The Interior has the shape of a Latin cross and is divided into three naves. On the left of the church stands the massive Bell Tower built for the Church of Santa Maria during the fifteenth century.
Located to the right of the Duomo, this impressive turreted mansion was built in the XIV century and renovated during the XV. It is a three floors building, partially coated in rusticated with crenellations on the top. From the top of its Tower you can enjoy an extraordinary view over the town and the surrounding area.
The civic museum Pinacoteca Crociani
Situated in via Ricci inside Palazzo Neri-Orselli, the museum hosts the collection Crociani that includes various paintings of the Sienese and Florentine school dated XIII-XVIII century and many works by Andrea della Robbia (both pottery and paintings).
The chiesa di San Biagio
The church of San Biagio is located a short distance from the city. Build in the XVI century, the curch is a magnificent example example of Tuscan Renaissance architecture.
Museo Civico (civic museum)
Il Museo Civico is open every day, except on tuesday, from 10.00 to 18.00.
Regular ticket costs 12 euro.
For more informations please visit the official website of the museum.
Tower of the Palazzo del Comune
The tower can be visited with a guide service.
Opening hours: 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00.
Ticket: 5 euro.