Montepulciano , a beautiful town just over the border in Tuscany. Montepulciano is famous not just because it is beautiful but also because of the wine that bears its name. The Vino Nobile was the first wine in Italy to have the DOCG seal of quality.
This is the great advantage of living or taking a vacanza around Lake Trasimeno. Here is found the best of the two counties, Tuscany and Umbria in views, wine and food plus the location is so central that just about everywhere is in easy reach either by car or train.
Montepulciano is a peaceful and romantic 30 minute drive along nearly deserted country roads from Castiglione del Lago and a 40 minute drive from us and Passignano sul Trasimeno. The drive leads one through rolling verdant fields of sunflowers and many, many vineyards. This is one of the most important wine producing areas of Italy.
You need to expect a fair amount of tourists as it is a very popular destination and well advertised. But, the town and its surrounds, bars and restaurants can easily absorb even the mid-summer rush.
There are quite a lot of parking spaces available in nearby roads and a very good one adjacent to the tourist office and just two minutes walk into the town.
We usually pop to this bar (below) before entering the town for the usual drinks and toilets! We’ve always found the service friendly, prices normal and there’s usually a good supply of pastries and sandwiches etc. It also has a fridge with bottles of water etc.
Currently (June 2017). We expect to pay in your average bar about €1.20/€1.50 for a Cappuccino and €1.10 for a basic dolce (pastry) €2.50 for a small drought (alla spina) beer.
There is, however, a Montepulciano which you can have all to yourself! This is the real town away from the commercialism, the shops, the busy streets. The part I think is even more beautiful than the Montepulciano of the guide books because it has so much character and atmosphere. The area we visited yesterday. It is a dream if you enjoy taking photographs, sketching or painting. But you need to wait for the next blog to discover this! (Hopefully later today!)
If the food and wine is top priority then you will love this first shop (above) where everyone is immediately provided with a little wooden palette containing a good measure of a very delicious white wine, plus some bruschetta with different toppings. You are then directed inside for tastings of cheeses and salami and, if you wish, samplings of four different years of the Nobile wine.
However, don’t be too hasty because just around the corner you will find the shop featured below which also provides a good assortments of food and wine to taste. It also has the most amazing underground city dating back to Etruscan times, where their wines and cheeses are stored and matured.
Click on this link for a short slideshow of the CITTÀ SOTTERRANEA: Città Sotterranea
A visit to this underground city where you can see the many wines and cheeses maturing is definitely worth a visit and if you have children with you then they will be spellbound.
But Montepulciano is not just about wine and food. It is a beautiful Medieval and Renaissance town founded by an Etruscan king. it has wonderful winding streets lined by charming buildings plus beautiful churches and, of course the Duomo.
Although it is tempting to drop into all the shops as soon as you enter the town, I would advise resisting the urge so you are able to climb up the steep road to the Duomo and fortress where you will rewarded with magnificent views.(you won’t feel like doing this after all the wine tasting!)
The Duomo above.
The best time to visit?
We enjoy late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky and the streets are more shaded. There are lots and lots of bars and restaurants within the town so it possible to linger over a meal after sightseeing and then enjoy a wander in the evening when everywhere looks really magical.
Families with young children? Then see my other blog for making a visit to Montepulciano and many other places more fun for the kids and the adults easier on the parents! I SPY TRASIMENO WITH LIZZIE WITCH
Artists? Watch out for the next blog.
The Summer Festival , the Bravia d le Botto ( the race of the barrels) is held on the last Sunday in August. Dating back to the 14Century when mounted riders (representing the eight neighbourhoods) drove their horses through the narrow streets of the town. Now the Palio or contests between two teams pushing a 80kg wine barrel up the streets. It may not sound exciting but it is! Given the narrow streets there are often collisions plus bands and flag throwers and a costume parade make this a fantastic experience.