Relais Ortaglia, Montepulciano ****
Relais Ortaglia, Montepulciano has a fantastic setting. Sitting amidst stunning Tuscan countryside, among vineyards of the famed Vino Nobile Montepulciano, the hotel sits just west of Montepulciano itself. View hotel
Double rooms from €160
Hotel Il Borghetto, Montepulciano ***
Hotel Il Borghetto, Montepulciano - located in the historic centre of town, this Montepulciano hotel gazes over the ancient walls of the castle and has terrific views onto the three lakes in the Val di Chiana (valley) below. View hotel
Double rooms from €93
A stunningly pretty Tuscan hill town, Montepulciano is perhaps best known to newcomers for the eponymous Vino Nobile wine (among the finest in Italy) and not to be confused with the varietal Montepulciano grape. This indeed is something of a gourmet's paradise - other local specialities include its cheese, pork, 'pici' pasta (a thick, rough and chewy take on spaghetti), its honey and its lentils. You'll find some excellent restaurants in and around Montepulciano, and the Sienese countryside around is a delight to explore.
Sat 2000 feet up on a limestone ridge, the town is in Tuscany's Siena province, and the city is some 67km away. The town has a singular topography dictated by that narrow ridge of limestone, with the main street stretching a full 1.5km from the lower Porta al Prato to the Piazza Grande at the top of the hill. There are no cars, so strolling Montepulciano is a delight, albeit one that will build the muscles. There is much to see too. Sights include the Palazzo Comunale, designed by Michelozzo after Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. See too the Palazzo Tarugi and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Montepulciano's 'Duomo'. Built between 1594 and 1680, its crowning masterpiece is Taddeo di Bartolo's huge Assumption of the Virgin triptych, of the Sienese School.
The Church of Santa Maria della Grazie is from the late 1500s, boasting a simple Mannerist front and a terracotta altar within by Andrea della Robbia. See too the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Biagio, stunningly built in white travertine. The city is walled of course, the fortifications built by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder in 1511 under the guidance of Cosimo I de Medici. But one of the greatest sights is to be had simply gazing over Sangallo's walls to the valley below. Stunning.