Montepulciano is a classic medieval hilltop town with vineyards all around. The goal is to walk up to the Piazza Grande to see the 14th-century Palazzo Comunale, with a tower offering views of the surrounding countryside along with the Duomo, with a huge triptych above its altar.
The 68 km from Siena take about just under an hour and a half taking the SR2 and the SP146. If you approach from the south you will see the impressive San Biagio Montepulciano, a church by Antonia da Sangallo. This is about one km from the town. You will have to turn off to get to the San Biagio, its worth it, but the traffic can be hectic as many drivers speed to get to the next location.
The San Biagio is unfinished, this is an great example of Renaissance architecture. The layout is that of a Greek cross with central dome and two towers.
In the town, the Duomo is also unfinished but it has an altarpiece and other works by famous artists from Florence and Siena. Florence and Siena both fought over the control of Montepulciano. The Palazzo Comunale, just outside the Duomo, is actually a smaller version of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Arriving in Montepulciano.
Located on the SP17, this is one of the most visited towns in the Val d'Orcia area of Tuscany. And rightfully so. The architecture of of the Piazza Grande at the top of hill is impressive. No driving in the town, although we have drive up some of the back roads that you to a small parking area at the top. But the primary route that visitors use is to park in the lower sections and then walk up the main street. It is an easy drive from Pienza.
Montepulciano is a medieval and Renaissance hill town, in the province of Siena, located on a 605-metre limestone ridge. Although most visit the town as part of a Tuscan tour, by car it is only 186 kilometers north of Rome. For wine, the Vino Nobile, which should not be confused with varietal wine made from the Montepulciano grape, is among Italy's best.
Roots go back to the Etruscan times, during Roman times it was a center to guard the main roads of the area. After the fall of Rome, it became a religious center. For a time the town was a loyal ally and possession of Florence. So it enjoyed Florence's architects building residences and buildings in the town.
If you are here in August, on the last Sunday of the month the barrel race through the city has been taking place since the 14th Century.
The main "street" starts at the Porta Al Prato and continues up the hill to the Piazza Grade, a 1.5 km walk.
Inside the Duomo is the 1401 gold-hued altarpiece by Taddeo di Bartolo (1363–1422) of the “Assumption of the Virgin with Saints.” Bartolo was one of the Sienese artists of the generation after the 1348 Black Death, and this is one of his greatest works. You can’t get too close to the massive triptych soaring above the high altar which makes it difficult to the details of the many various panels.