South of Siena is a charming medieval fairy-tale town surrounded by mighty walls and dominated by an ancient castle of authentic architectural perfection. Montalcino, west of Pienza, is a beautiful historic town nestled in the beautiful landscape of the Natural Park of Val d’Orcia and renowned throughout the world for its extraordinary production of the precious Brunello di Montalcino.
The village has remained virtually intact since the sixteenth century. Once you reach the top a true spectacle unfolds before the eyes: a continuous succession of rolling hills dotted here and there with yellow and red flowers, ancient oak trees, picturesque olive trees, scenic country roads that meander through harmonious vineyards and cypress tress here and there.
The town of Montalcino has become rich and famous by Brunello, one of the best Italian wines, and among the most popular in the world. The village was already renowned for its red wines in the fifteenth century. However, the precious formula of the great Brunello wine was invented in 1888 by Ferruccio Biondi Santi, who first had the idea to eliminate the traditional recipe of Chianti vineyards as Canaiolo and Colorino, instead by using only the Sangiovese variety.
Before Brunello is ready to drink it must be aged for a minimum of five years, two of which in oak barrels, while the Rosso di Montalcino is ready after one year of aging. Among the most renowned wine producers in the area are Biondi-Santi, Schidione and Banfi.
Montalcino is not just wine, it is also art and culture. The old town is dominated by the mighty fortress, built in 1361 marking the transition of the city under the rule of Siena. The panorama from the ramparts of the fortress is truly spectacular; It goes from Monte Amiata, through Crete to Siena, and runs through the Val d’Orcia and the hills of Maremma.
The fortress has remained virtually intact since the Middle Ages and often becomes the perfect setting for festivals, events, and concerts, such as the famous Jazz & Wine Festival, which is held in July every year, with the perfect combination between pleasure of listening to Italian and international jazz music, with the taste of good wine!
Another attraction of Montalcino is the characteristic long, narrow tower of the Palazzo dei Priori town hall, which overlooks the main square known as Piazza del Popolo, with its beautiful Gothic loggia. Also visit the Bishop’s Palace and the churches of Saint Agostino, Saint Egidio and Saint Francis.
We recommend to visit the Civic and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, which exhibits religious paintings and sculptures, and the Glass Museum, which traces the history of the birth of the glass. The museum, located inside the Castle of Poggio alle Mura, houses an interesting collection of tools for glass processing from the Egyptians to the Romans to the great Venetian masters.
The narrow streets and alleys of Montalcino are lovely and the village is the ideal place to stroll through the maze of charming arts and crafts shops, cafes, restaurants and wine bars. Taking home a bottle of superb wine is a great idea!
Take some time to breathe in the special atmosphere of this magnificent medieval Tuscan village. Walk slowly through its narrow streets, offering an extraordinary views of the valley below, and then sit and relax while sipping a nice glass of red wine.
Be sure to visit the Abbey of Saint Antimo a few minutes from Montalcino!