Montalcino is one of the most fascinating hamlets in the area around Siena. Here are some suggestions on what to see in and around Montalcino.
Known worldwide for being the home of the noble Brunello, Montalcino is a charming town located in Val d’Orcia, south of Siena. Surrounded by ancient medieval walls and dominated by a suggestive castle, the town has maintained its integrity since XVI century and walking through its alleys is a bit like taking a dip in the past. A few kilometers from Pienza and Siena, Montalcino and its surroundings are an unmissable destination for those looking for a journey to discover medieval Tuscany.
Best attractions in the hamlet of Montalcino
Visiting Montalcino will take a few hours because, despite being a small town, there are many artistic and cultural attractions. The fortified medieval walls are an ideal starting point to discover the suggestive atmosphere of the hamlet: 4 kilometers of city walls, 13 towers and 6 gates made Montalcino a key town for the Republic of Siena in the XVI century. The amazing Fortress of Montalcino, still intact since its construction in 1361, today is the spectacular setting for concerts, shows, guided tastings and events of all kinds that enliven the town during the year.
To visit the historic center, we suggest to start from Piazza del Popolo, the medieval heart of Montalcino. Since the year 1000, when it was built, is still surrounded by the characteristic loggias; on one side of the square stands the Palazzo dei Priori, seat of the municipality and adorned with the coats of arms of the podestas who ruled Montalcino over the centuries. The portico, the statue of Cosimo I and the tall, narrow tower are the elements that characterize the building.
The Duomo is instead a more recent construction, which dates back to 1800 and represents a splendid example of neoclassical architecture, simple and without frills. Other interesting buildings are the Palazzo Vescovile and the churches of Sant’Agostino and Sant’Egidio, both in Romanesque style. If you have enough time, don’t forget to visit the Civic and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, which houses important works of art made by Sienese artists between XII and XIX centuries: among the works preserved, there are even paintings by Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti.
The surroundings of Montalcino: what to visit
Not only the city of Montalcino is worth a visit but also its surroundings. An unmissable stop is the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, a monastery located in the hamlet of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, just outside the village: it represents one of the best examples of Tuscan Romanesque architecture and today houses the Olivetan Benedictine monks who renovated the abbey. If you are lucky enough to visit the monastery during mass, you can listen to the Gregorian chants sung by the monks, a unique experience that you won’t forget.
Finally, Montalcino is the home of the famous Brunello, one of the most appreciated wines in the world. Brunello’s history dates back to the mid-nineteenth century when a pharmacist, Clemente Santi, experimented with the production of red wine in an area that until then had been dedicated solely to the production of white wine. As for wineries and farms, you will be spoilt for choice: a tasting and a visit to the vineyards will immerse you completely in the atmosphere of the Tuscan countryside.