Montalcino Things to Do
Monuments and Museums
The Castle of Montalcino or Fortress
Once a fortress and today an enoteca (wine bar), the castle rises on the highest part of the hill and is an excellent example of military architecture. Built in the 1360's to defend the territory by Senese Mino Foresi and Domenico di Feo, it follows the pattern of a classic castle enclosure -- a pentagon plan with towers at the five angles. Remains of an ancient basilica that became the chapel of the fortification are still visible as is the Medicean rampart, added by Cosimo in the mid-16th century.
The Cathedral (San Salvatore)
The Senese architect Agostino Fantastici took on the project in 1812 to restructure the pre-existing church into the more timely neo-classical style.
Piazza del Popolo
The medieval center of the town, Piazza del Popolo includes the Town Hall (or Palazzo dei Priori) built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Embellished with the coats of arms of the podesta', its facade demonstrates Sienese architecture of the time. Also on the piazza is La Loggia, constructed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Church of San Francesco
The Church of San Francesco holds the frescoes by Vincenzo Tamagni painted in the early sixteenth-century. It dates back to the XIII century but has been redone over the course of time.
Church of San'Agostino
This church of the thirteenth-century has a gothic marble portal and a rose window that adds elegance to its simple Romanesque facade.
Musei Riuniti (Civic and Diocesano Museums)
Outstanding artwork of the 12th and 13th centuries are in both museums. Pieces like the wooden cross painted by Senese artists, a "Virgin and Child" by Simoni Martini and "St Peter and St Paul" by Ambrogio Lorenzetti are on view. An Angel annunciate and a Madonna annunciate, two beautiful wooden sculptures from the early 15th century, a Saint Sebastian and a Madonna with Saints in Robbian terracotta are also there.
Abbey of Sant'Antimo
Just a few miles from Montalcino is one of the most beautiful Romanseque monastic churches in existence -- the Abbazia of San'Antimo, dating back to 1118. Its Romanesque-Lombard style give the structure combine strength and delicacy.
While many enotecas (wine bars) can be found in the town, the wineries lie outside the city in the country. Arrangements can be made for wine tastings.
"Welcome Brunello", held the third weekend of February, celebrates the arrival of the new vintage of Brunello di Montalcino to the marketplace. It is a weekend that attracts wine experts and writers who come to examine, experience and drink the wine as experts assess the harvest brought in five months ago.
Patron Saints Day
Honoring Saint Maria of Mercy, the patron saint of Montalcino, this important event is celebrated for an entire weekend. Devotions begin with an evening procession to the church of the Madonna and continue to Sunday morning when the Madonna is unveiled in the Church, and First Communion is given to the children. In late afternoon Tombola is held in the piazza, and as evening falls, the Madonna is retired to its resting place.
The Opening of the Hunt - Apertura della Caccia
The second weekend of August marks the opening festival of the annual archery tournaments and is a forerunner to the Sagra in October. Taking the form of a historical procession, participants stroll through the village in medieval costume. It is a weekend of pageantry and history, fabulous foods and wines.
The Festival of the Thrush - La Sagra del Tordo
Montalcino's most important cultural event, the "Feast of the Thrush", held the last Sunday of October, combines historic traditions, folklore, sports and gastronomy. It is a festival of sight, sound and motion with townspeople dancing the Trescone in the streets while a pageant of over 100 people in 14th century costumes symbolizing the return to the hunt, rolling flags, trumpets and drums proceed to the Lady of the Fortress, waiting with her ladies and court for the offering of the game. The procession ends at the 13th century Fortress where the sumptuous festival of local specialty foods and wines begins. In the afternoon the pageant proceeds to the foot of the fortress for the start of the archery tournament. A procession of torches along the bastions of the fortress ends the festivities at nighttime.