Montepulciano is the highest hill town in Tuscany, and renowned for its wine, the Vino Nobile
Henry James drank so much Montepulciano wine he couldn’t remember much about this famous Tuscany hill town, but it’s beautifully preserved and well worth a visit, especially to taste the food – and don’t miss the wine cellars!
“Well here we are in the main street of, the main square, actually, of Montepulciano. I’ll sweep round in a minute to give you a view. Not many people here at this time, about 5 o’clock, beautiful light, though. Unfortunately, as you’ll see later, it’s a bit misty and hazy over the countryside and views. Still, never mind. Let’s have a look around at the square now.
Taddeo di Bartolo’s Assumption is in the Duomo
“Well, as you can see, not many people around. There’s the well and here is the Duomo where there’s a Triptych of the Assumption painted in 1401 by Taddeo di Bartolo inside, which I’ll have a look at later. I’m actually standing in front of the Town Hall, so I’ll close here and we’ll have a look at that, which unfortunately is in the shadow now.
“Past palaces and an extremely good restaurant”
“Okay, I’m back again and this is the front of the Duomo. Opposite is the Town Hall where I was standing a few minutes ago. Here’s the Tower, I don’t know if you can see that. It’s a bit in the shadow, an awkward time of the day. Okay, let’s zoom down and do a sweep from here. We’re going to go down that street on the right hand side, which I’m told takes us back past palaces and an extremely good restaurant.
Five or ten minutes steep walk up from the car park
“Now I’ll show you here the road where you come up. As you can see, it’s reasonably steep, just about five or ten minutes walk up from the car park. Quite peaceful now, at midday I’m told it’s not, but we’ll walk over here to the street that leads down the hill, about 25 minutes walk down, so I’m told, and then, of course, we have to come back up.
Plenty of wine bars and restaurants
“Okay, here we go down the street, not much to see yet, but give it time. You can see a few palaces on either side but, from the outside anyway, they don’t look so amazing.
“Right, so that road’s where we’ve just come from. To be honest, the light is not very good at this time. I’m at a sort of crossroads here, steeply going down in most directions – this street’s going up – plenty of wine-bars and restaurants around, but not much else. It seems pretty deserted at the moment.
Go to Piazza San Francisco for a killer view
“Okay, well, we’ve come up to the Piazza San Francisco by the church. Let’s see what we can see over this wall. Yes, quite a little view this is. You can see, it’s very hazy today. Montepulciano is 600 metres, I believe, high, so it’s got a great view and they say you can see Perugia on a clear day from the top of the tower. You can climb up that tower at the Town Hall.
Henry James’s favourite wine came from Montepulciano
“So there you have it, miles and miles of Tuscany. And here are some of the fabled Montepulciano vineyards. Henry James used to like Montepulciano wines and actually you can argue that he was responsible, in his writings, for popularising this place. Certainly he drank a lot of wine. Vin Nobile, they call it.”