The other week, my friend Michelle and I decided to meet in Chiusi for lunch and then take the train to Montepulciano, a hill town in southern Tuscany near Siena.
Michelle lives in Florence and Chiusi was the prefect half-way point. However, once we were in Chiusi we saw the sporadic train schedule and noticed that there was a bus leaving in thirty minutes. We took it.
It was great move as we later found out that the train station is quite a distance from the hill town. The bus dropped us off right at the bottom of the hill.
I’ve been to Montepulciano once before on a New Year’s Day. It was freezing, packed with tourists, and quite a few places were closed for the holiday. Our day trip was the perfect time to go. It’s wasn’t too crowded and the weather was glorious.
Montepuclciano has a population of about 14,000. It’s known for its Vino Nobile red wine (it’s surrounded by vineyards), its architecture (no major new buildings since the 16th century) and the views.
As you enter the main door/gate, you arrive at The Corso which is the commercial hub of the town. Take this winding street up, and up, until you reach Piazza Grande the beautiful main square. The unfinished brick facade of the Duomo is very striking.
Montepulciano formed an alliance with Florence in 1511. The Medici’s asked two of the most successful architects in Italy, Vignola and Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, to renovate many of the noble families’s palazzi and to make the public spaces grander.
We ended our day in Montepulciano with aperitivi at the historic Caffè Poliziano. We met up with two of Michelle’s friends who were on their way to Umbria. The Caffè was opened in 1886 and is a favorite with the locals for coffee. Of course prices are lower if you stand at the bar. If you can get one of the tiny tables on the small back terrace, do. These views are worth the price
I must to return to Montepulciano and hope to visit Sangallo’s masterpiece, San Biagio. The church is located a few meters from the hilltop’s walls and inspired St. Peter’s Basilica and other churches.
Photos: Me and my iPhone