MONTEPULCIANO, MONTALCINO, PIENZA
Montepulciano is situated in southern Tuscany, in the province of Siena and stands on a limestone hill, 605 meters above sea level. It is famous worldwide for its Vino Nobile, an Italian wine known for its excellence.
Besides wine, Montepulciano is a major producer of food a drinks, it is most famous for its pork, cheese and honey. But its beauty is its greatest attraction; the main street in the town that stretches for 1.5 kilometers from the top of the central hill to the bottom. The city also holds to it a walkable car-free nature.
The vineyards near the town produce Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, an austere but very elegant red wine. Wine has been made here since at least the eighth century, possibly earlier, and by the mid‑16th century Montepulciano’s lofty reputation was already sealed: Pope Paul III’s described it admiringly as “un vino da signori” (a wine for aristocrats).
The town offers traditional tasty local dishes and specialties, which you should try in one of the many restaurants or trattorie, a local favorite is the hand rolled pasta “pici” with meat or cheese sauce.
In the town, you will find amazing restaurants like the Le Logge del Vignola (http://www.leloggedelvignola.com/) a chic and refined place where you can also take cooking classes. Another perfect option would be the Osteria Acquacheta (http://www.acquacheta.eu) that for more than a decade is one of the most popular restaurants in Montepulciano. Popular with locals for its genuine and informal atmosphere. It remains a reference point for the many visitors passing through. The Osteria offers a strong tasting kitchen linked to the territory from which strictly all the ingredients come from.
Montepulciano also offers perfect accommodations and resorts. A good option is the 4 star hotel named Etruria Resort & Natural SPA (http://www.etruriaresort.it/) Their attention to details and quality service will leave you with an unforgettable experience. The hotel Villa Ortaglia (http://www.ortaglia.it/) is also a 4 star hotel located in middle of vineyards with a fantastic wine selection and cellar.
For those who love golf, 25 minutes away from the city, is the Golf Club Valdichiana (http://www.golfclubvaldichiana.it/) that offers a 9-hole course in the middle of Tuscany and the rolling hills.
During summer time, you can enjoy a series of cultural and folkloric events, such as the International Arts Workshop, the Bruscello (a theatrical representation) and the Bravio delle Botti, an original race competition with wine barrels. Another annual festival that you can find in the town, is the “Mercatini di Natale” Christmas markets, that happen every year during the Christmas.
To the south of Siena is a classic fairytale hilltop town, set within a full circle of fortified walls and watched over by a mighty castle of medieval perfection. Montalcino, is a beautiful village immersed in the breathtaking Val d’Orcia Natural Park, renowned all over the world for the production of its precious Brunello red wine. Once you get up to the town, a magnificent spectacle will catch your eyes through olive groves, scenic country roads winding through perfect vineyards and isolated cypress trees atop hills.
The town has been made incredibly rich and famous by its Brunello wine, one of the world’s best and most appreciated Italian wines. Montalcino was already well-known for its fine red wines during the 15th century.
Montalcino offers incredible places to stay, like the amazing hotel called Castello di Velona (http://www.castellodivelona.it/), a 5 star hotel with thermal pools and an amazing view of the Val D’orcia. Or the Castello Banfi – Il Borgo (http://castellobanfiilborgo.com/) where you can find a refined and exclusive atmosphere and relax immersed in the Tuscan countryside.
There are many traditional restaurants around town to eat and drink the locale cuisine. A great one is Boccon DiVino, (http://www.boccondivinomontalcino.it/) made by a traditional family from the city, and was founded 24 years ago. Another option is the restaurant La Taverna (http://castellobanfi.com/en/our-hospitality/restaurants.php) inside the hotel Castello Banfi, a classical Tuscan restaurant in the shade of our medieval castle.
20 minutes away from the town, there is an excellent golf club, truly Tuscan, called Castiglion del Bosco Golf Club. (http://golf.castigliondelbosco.com/). In a natural setting, dotted with cypress trees, which follows the contours of the historic landscape of the Val d’Orcia. With 18-holes, the golf course was designed by the legendary winner of the British Open, Tom Weiskopf.
The town counts with a traditional festival, Sagra del Tordo, which for over 50 years now, happens on the last Sunday of October. They offer the best in local dishes and wine, but it goes beyond that. It is a festival with parades in medieval costumes, traditional folk dancing and an exciting archery tournament between the town. If you like music, the city also has the Montalcino Jazz & Wine festival; a week full of great artists playing concerts that take place in Montalcino’s medieval fortress.
Pienza is a tiny village in southern Tuscany standing high atop a hill, dominating all the Orcia Valley with extraordinary views. Pienza is part of the province of Siena, about 50 kilometers away. The town is since 1996 a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unesco gave Pienza this grand honour because they considered that the site is of outstanding universal value as it represents the first application of the Renaissance Humanist concept of urban design, and as such occupies a seminal position in the development of the concept of the planned “ideal town”. The town is also considered the “capital” of pecorino cheese, because of its high quality cheese that is made with special flavours and aromatic milk thanks to sheep pastures in Val d’Orcia.
The town streets are full of small charming shops selling a large quantity of various types of pecorino, that you can taste together with a number of other typical local products, such as fine wines, spices, pici (handmade pasta) and so on. A good and chic restaurant is The Terrazza del Chiostro (http://www.terrazzadelchiostro.it/ set in a beautiful scenery of changing colors with a beautiful hanging gardens overlooking the Val d’Orcia. Another great option would be La Piazzetta (http://www.sangregorioresidencehotel.it/en/restaurant/) offering typical Tuscan dishes where you will discover the excellent cuisine of the area.
Near the town, there are some luxury accommodations available, like The Relais Il Chiostro di Pienza (http://www.anghelhotels.it/relaischiostrodipienza/) is a 4 star hotel, traditional and exclusive hotel. Another option, would be the Hotel Corsignano (http://www.hotelcorsignano.it/) a different 4 star hotel Beautiful, functional and, above all, ecological.
For the sports enthusiasts, 35 minutes away from the city, there is the Golf Club Valdichiana (http://www.golfclubvaldichiana.it/) that offers a 9-hole course in the middle of Tuscany.
In early September happens the famous Fiera del Cacio, a great festival dedicated to pecorino cheese and other traditional products. During the festival, you can also enjoy a folkloristic and amusing game of ancient origins called the Palio del Cacio Fuso. In this content, the players of each town have to roll an entire round of pecorino cheese around the fuso, a wooden spindle located at the center of the square.
Close to the town, you will also find the famous festival Palio di Siena which is a horse race that is held twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August, in Siena.