Montepulciano is a Renaissance hilltop town laid out as it was in medieval times in Siena province in Tuscany. It lies on a chalky hill top ridge between the Orcia valley (Val d’Orcia) to the west (see Orcia DOC) and the Val di Chiana (Chiana valley) to the east. From the Torre del Comune there is a view of the San Biagio church, built by Antonio di San Gallo the Elder in the countryside outside the town.
Wines: The town produces two red wines under its name, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG and Rosso di Montepulciano DOC (neither have anything in common with the red grape called Montepulciano). The town also falls within the Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG (red only). In addition Montepulciano also produces two sweet wines called Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC and Vin Santo di Montepulciano Occhio di Pernice DOC whose respective colours are white and white-pink.
History: The town of Montepulciano has Etruscan origins. Legend suggests it was founded by Porsenna Lucumone of the nearby city of Chiusi. Archeological finds go back to beween 400 B.C. and 300 B.C. In Roman times, the town was a garrison protecting the roads of the area. After the fall of the western Roman empire, it became a religious center under the Lombards. The first document which officially cites the city of Montepulciano dates to 715 A.D. where it appears as “Mons Politianus” (“Mount Politianus”). Montepulciano’s history has always been closely linked to its famous vines and wine, as demonstrated by the centuries-old cellars in the town’s old centre. Further confirmation of this historical link is provided by documents from 790 AD which register the donation of a vineyard to the church, and
1200s: At the beginning of the thirteenth century, both Florence and Siena began to have designs on the riches of Montepulciano, created principally by the enterprising spirit of the local trading, manufacturing, and agricultural bourgeoisie, until Florence gained the city’s loyalty. Once Florence took over Siena in the 1500s, it lost its strategic importance.
1300s: Repetti’s mention of a document in 1350 (in his “Historical and Geographical dictionary of Tuscany”) which drew up the terms for trade and exportation of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
1400s: The fifteenth century was the period of the great poet Angelo Ambrogini (known as “Il Poliziano” precisely because he was born in the city), considered one the major representatives of Renaissance Humanism and a constant presence at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent in Florence.
1500s: Montepulciano was given the name of “the pearl of the 1500’s” thanks to the building boom of the 16th century; architects such as Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio, Jacopo Barozzi detto Vignola, Baldassarre Peruzzi, and Ippolito Scalza erected sumptuous patrician dwelling places and splendid churches, and various parts of the city center were graced by the work of these artists, well known to the Medici court. The city of Florence, in fact, to maintain itself in the good graces of this stronghold in the southeast of Tuscany, gratified the city with the presence of its most important artists. Sante Lancerio (1530), cellarman to Pope Paul III, defined Montepulciano’s wine as “vino perfectissimo” while Francesco Redi is famous for writing “Montepulciano d’ogni vino è Re” (“Montepulciano is of all wines the king”) in his “Bacco in Toscana” (1685).
1700s: The 18th century was distinguished by the government of Grand Duchess Christina of Lorraine, who gave much care and attention to this beautiful city. In his “Candide” (1759), Voltaire mentioned “maccheroni, Lombardy partridge and Montepulciano wine”. Recent research has shown that the official name of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano dates back to 1787, and was used in a “nota spese” (expenses account) by Giovan Filippo Neri (Governor of the Regio Ritiro di S. Girolamo, a historical Montepulciano institution) for a trip to Siena. | 1793, instead, was the date of the construction of a splendid theatre, the Teatro Poliziano, which now offers a rich theatrical season further supplemented by local companies which bring to the stage excellent works which exemplify the love for culture deeply rooted in the very fabric of the city of Montepulciano.
Tourism: In late August the Bravio delle Botti or barrel-rolling race is held between the town’s eight ‘contrade’ or wards.
Montepulciano sub-zones: Abbadia di Montepulciano. | Acquaviva. | Argiano. | Ascianello. | Banditella. | Bossona. | Caggiole–see le Caggiole. | Canneto. | Casalte. | Cervognano. | Cetona. | Località La Ciarliana. | Civettaio. | Fontago. | Fonte al Giunco. | Fontecornino. | Fornace. | Graccianello. | Gracciano. | Il Greppo. | La Piaggia. | Le Caggiole. | Madonna della Querce. | Martiena. | Montepulciano Stazione. | Nottola. | Paterno. | Pianoia. | Pietrose. | Poggiano. | Salarco. | Salcheto. | Saltecchio. | San Savino. | Sanguineto. | Sant’Albino. | Santa Pia. | Stella di Valiano. | Tre Berte. | Valiano. | Via Cupa. | Vicroce. | Vignone.