We first started coming to Montepulciano, a medieval and Renaissance hill town and commune in the Italian province of Siena in southern Tuscany, in 1999. At that time, it was an undiscovered Tuscan hilltop town. It had great wine that we knew about, but was not widely known in the US – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (to be discussed in another post!) – and, a great copper shop. We were charmed by the town and its warmhearted people.
Montepulciano, once an ancient Etruscan city, is one of the most attractive hill towns in Tuscany and is located in the Val di Chiana within easy reach of the Val d'Orcia. It is built on the ridge of Monte Poliziano in the province of Siena. Throughout the centuries it has been under the control of both Florence and Siena.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Montepulciano developed as a religious center under the Lombards. In the 12th century, it was repeatedly attacked by the Republic of Siena, which the Poliziani (the natives of Montepulciano) faced with the help of the Perugia and Orvieto, and sometimes Florence, communes.
The 14th century was characterized by constant struggles between the local noble families until the Del Pecora family became rulers of the town. From 1390, Montepulciano was a loyal ally (and later possession) of Florence. From then until the mid-16th century, lived a period of splendor with architects such as Antonio da Sangallo the Elder and Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, and others, building luxurious residences and other buildings here. When Siena was conquered in 1559 by Florence, Montepulciano lost its strategic role and its importance declined.
Montepulciano is a major producer of food and drink. Besides being known worldwide for wine, it is renowned for its pork, cheese, "pici" pasta, lentils, and honey. After the unification of Italy and the drying of the Val di Chiana, the town remained the most important agricultural center in the area.
A competitive "barrel race through the city" called the Bravio delle Botti has been held on the last Sunday of August since the 14th century. Another time we will discuss the sites and events of this beautiful gem of a town.
Montepulciano’s wonderful people, food and wine are what inspired us to make it our holiday home in Tuscany. We welcome you to make it your holiday home, too!