Located in Southern Tuscany, Montepulciano is a hilltop town that encompasses the spirit of medieval and Renaissance Italy. It has been called the “Pearl of the 1500s,” as the city is filled with stunning examples of Renaissance artwork by famed artists in addition to medieval and Renaissance architecture such as town squares, historic churches, and monumental palaces.

The economy of the town is driven by food production. The city is known for its winemaking, particularly the red wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and also its food products, such as pork, handmade pici pasta, lentils, honey, and locally-produced cheeses.

Though Montepulciano is steeped in medieval history, its origins go back much farther. Archeological evidence suggests that the city was once settled by the Etruscans. In 715 AD, the town was known as Castrum Politianum and was self-governed. The culture of winemaking in Montepulciano goes back as far as nearly 800 AD. Over the centuries, many powers repeatedly sought to invade the town, particularly the Sienese Republic. In 1559, the wealthy Medici family took over, declaring the city noble. It is the artistic, architectural, and cultural remnants of these glory days that make Montepulciano what it is today – a historic, medieval town rooted deep in tradition.


Montepulciano is a hilltop town, located on top of a high limestone ridge in the region of Tuscany that is positioned in Central Italy. The hillsides of the area allow for winemakers to grow splendid grapes due to the exposure to the sun, enriched soil, and dry winds off the sea.

The climate of Montepulciano is classified as marine by the Köppen-Geiger system. As a result, the summers are warm, but not too long, and feature mostly clear weather. Winters are can be longer and quite cold with a tendency for clouds. The average temperature in Montepulciano can run from 31°F in the winter to 86°F in the summer. Precipitation throughout the city is quite common over the course of the year.

For those vacationing to Montepulciano, July through late August will result in the hottest temperatures, ideal for summertime activities and outdoor exploration.


Visit the town’s main square. Officially called Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, but more commonly known as Piazza Grande, the square has some of the town’s most important structures surrounding it. This makes it a great place to spend time admiring the town’s many sights.

While in Piazza Grande, one can visit the splendid Palazzo Comunale, a fourteenth century Gothic palace that also serves as Montepulciano’s town hall. The tower, which was remodeled during the fifteenth century, continues to serve as the town hall of Montepulciano. The structure features a set of 67 steps that lead up to an adjoining tower. After climbing to the top of the tower, travelers can admire spectacular views of the town and the surrounding Tuscan countryside comprised of rolling hills and cypress trees.

Also located in the piazza is Palazzo Contucci, a sixteenth-century palace built by Antonio da Sangalla the Elder. Inside, travelers will find frescoes by artist Andrea Pozzo. Another palace located there is the Palazzo Tarugi. It features an open loggia, a fountain, Etruscan columns, and two lion statues. Travelers should not miss Palazzo Ricci either, which dates back to the sixteenth century and is best known for its loggia that offers truly remarkable views of the countryside. Today, Palazzo Ricci is home to ancient wine cellars as well as the European Academy for Music and Performing Arts.

Visit the Duomo, or Cathedral, of Montepulciano. It is located at the town’s highest point, atop a steep hill in the old town center. Built in the late 1500s on the what used to be the ancient Church of Santa Maria, the Cathedral still features the original structure’s fifteenth-century bell tower. Inside the cathedral is a massive triptych from the Sienese School.

Venture a bit outside of town to see the Church of San Biagio. Located below the town in a cypress tree-filled area, the sanctuary is made of gold travertine and features stunning Renaissance architectural details including an image of the Madonna, a high dome, and two bell towers. The Cathedral also features sixteenth-century frescoes and a high altar with figures of the saints. Nearby is the priest’s house, which features a fountain and a small museum.

Other churches worth seeing in Montepulciano include Santa Lucia – a Baroque church with an altar by Luca Signorelli, Sant’Agostino – a church known for its Renaissance façade complete with a terracotta relief by Michelozzo di Bartolommeo, and Santa Maria delle Grazie – a sixteenth century church with a simple façade, single nave, and terracotta altar by artist Andrea della Robbia.

Visit the Museo Civico di Montepulciano, or Civic Museum. Located in Palazzo Neri Orselli, a fourteenth-century palazzo, the museum includes Etruscan and Roman archaeological artifacts, medieval and Renaissance paintings, and terracotta pieces by Andrea della Robbia.

For a more unique museum experience, visit the Museo della Tortura. This one-of-a-kind museum features objects of torture from medieval times through the eighteenth century. Some of the items included in the museum are thumb screws, Catherine wheels, guillotines, inquisition chairs, and other harsh instruments. Located in the Palazzo Bellarmino, the museum’s galleries are appropriately dark and spooky.

To top off any day of sightseeing, enjoy a delicious Tuscan style meal in Montepulciano. The ingredients are locally sourced, the flavors are deep and rich, and the style of cooking is rustic, evoking the spirit of the common “peasant style” cooking of Tuscany. Pair meals with a delicious glass of local Montepulciano wine.

From spectacular panoramic views of countryside scenery to remarkable locally-produced wine, a trip to Montepulciano offers the best of Tuscany. Travel to Montepulciano and discover why so many travelers have fallen in love with this charming hilltop town.

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