Perched on a hill in Tuscany, Montepulciano is one of the best places to visit in Italy. It is home to a number of remarkable buildings, from churches to Renaissance palaces.
Besides visiting the main attractions, you can also taste local wine at many restaurants. This wine is known as Vino di Nobile and is made from the Sangiovese grape.
1. The Church of San Biagio
Located outside of the city walls, this 16th century church draws the eye when viewed from the surrounding countryside. It’s a short 10-minute downhill walk from the town center and you can pay a small fee to enter.
The Church of San Biagio is a must-see for visitors to Montepulciano. It is known for its dazzling marble brickwork and stunning frescos of the Madonna with Child and St. Francis.
You can visit the Church of San Biagio on your own or with a tour guide, who will tell you all about its history and significance. It is also a great spot for photography.
2. The Palazzo Comunale
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Montepulciano, the Palazzo Comunale is a must-visit. This is the town’s seat of government and it dates back to the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
You can climb the tower to see some great views of the town and surrounding countryside. However, the steps are quite steep and narrow. If you have difficulty walking uphill, a better alternative is to visit the terrace instead.
Inside, there are some interesting paintings on display. There are three by 20th-century Chilean artist Sebastian Matta and a detached fresco depicting The Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and Saint John, attributed to Antonio Zacchi (Il Balletta).
3. The Torre di Pulcinella
A little bit non-descript, this 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. This is a rather unique feature of Montepulciano, Italy and it is definitely worth a visit!
The story of how this character arrived in the hamlet of Montepulciano and why the clock tower is so emblazoned with him is an interesting one. It is not clear who exactly erected it, but the legend has it that this figure was brought by a bishop from Naples who longed to share the local folklore with the inhabitants of Montepulciano.
The statue was most likely installed in 1524; it replaced an automaton which rang the bell to announce the hours. It is said that it was financed by a priest from Naples, but others think that the restoration work was done on behalf of a benefactor from Naples who inserted the Neapolitan pulcinella mask in the automaton.
4. The Duomo
One of the highlights of any trip to Montepulciano is a visit to the Duomo. This is a building that doesn’t have the most impressive exterior, but once you take the time to go inside, you will understand why it has been so important to this town and its people.
This church is an architectural feat that few architects dared attempt. The dome is made of polychrome red, white and green panels that are stunning!
The church is worth the visit for its incredible architecture alone, but the surrounding area is also beautiful. The town is surrounded by vineyards and the Val d’Orcia is only a short drive away.
5. The Piazza Grande
Montepulciano, located in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany, is one of the most charming and quintessential towns in Italy. Often overlooked by tourists, it is a perfect day trip from Rome or for a weekend break out of the hustle and bustle.
- A walk around the stunning Piazza Grande, surrounded by Renaissance palazzi that seem to go on forever, is one of the best ways to discover this town. It is also home to the town’s administrative office, the magnificent Palazzo Comunale with its tower.
- In the middle of the piazza stands the church of St. Agostino, with its imposing white stone facade and side room housing a permanent presepe (nativity scene). Look up at the bell tower and you will see a statue of Pulcinella!