The home of Brunello di Montalcino is also a delightful medieval village perched on a hill, from which a splendid panorama of the Val d'Orcia can be admired.
A small town in the province of Siena known everywhere for the wine produced there, Brunello, Montalcino is a truly unmissable destination during a tour of Tuscany. We are on the western edge of the Val d’Orcia, close to Mount Amiata and not far from the border with the province of Grosseto. Here, on the top of a hill, lies the ancient medieval village of Montalcino, with its marvellous monuments overlooking the rolling Tuscan hills.
Curiously, despite its 5000 inhabitants, Montalcino is the largest municipality in the province of Siena. It is largely made up of hamlets, small villages and hamlets, some of which are practically uninhabited, but which preserve such unique historical testimonies, such as ancient parish churches or castles, that some have even been converted entirely into widespread hotels or guest houses.
Montalcino therefore presents itself as an area of high tourist receptivity, well equipped and with all services. Thanks to its favourable position, you can also use it as a base for sleeping, and visit the nearby towns on a day trip. In the centre you will then find many typical restaurants, offering the genuineness of traditional Tuscan cuisine at reasonable prices, always accompanied by a glass of good wine.
Things to do in Montalcino
The historical centre of Montalcino is very compact and can be easily walked around: all the main sights are concentrated here. For those who wish, there are also some important attractions outside the town, to be reached exclusively by car.
Palazzo dei Priori
In the heart of the historical town of Montalcino, in the splendid setting of the central Piazza del Popolo, is the Palazzo dei Priori, dating back to the end of the 13th century. On its façade one can still admire the coats of arms of the podestà who governed Montalcino over the centuries, while just behind it stands the medieval tower, with battlements and a built-in clock.
Abbey of Sant’Antimo
In the hamlet of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, about 10 kilometres by car from the centre of Montalcino, is the beautiful abbey of Sant’Antimo. It is a former Benedictine convent built in Tuscan Romanesque style, dating back to the 12th century, used until 1500 and then abandoned by the monks until a few years ago.
Dedicated to Saint Antimo, who according to some was a priest imprisoned under Diocletian, and according to others a martyred deacon from Arezzo, it is located in open countryside and its imposing complex is truly beautiful to behold. The abbey has been modified and enlarged several times over the centuries; today, all that remains of the ancient abbey is the Carolingian chapel and the remains of the chapter house. The entire complex also includes a large abbey church and a cloister.
To reach the abbey of Sant’Antimo, from the centre of Montalcino it is sufficient to take the provincial road SP55 in a southerly direction until reaching the locality of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. From here, a small road leads to the abbey car park.
The united museums of Montalcino are a complex formed by two museums: the civic museum and the diocesan museum of sacred art. They were united in 1997, and are now part of the Sienese museum circuit.
Inside the 12 rooms, spread over three floors, there are more than 200 works of art in all, including the Sant’Antimo crucifix, an emperor on panel painting dating back to the 12th century, originally from the abbey of Sant’Antimo. Also very beautiful are Simone Martini’s Madonna, Bartolo di Fredi’s Coronation of the Virgin and a Maestà by Vecchietta, representing the Renaissance.
In addition to paintings, the museum also displays a series of sculptures, majolica, sacred vestments, gold and illuminated manuscripts. In addition, an area is dedicated to the 20th century, with works by Montalcino painter Arturo Luciani. Finally, there is a section dedicated to archaeology, with artefacts from the Bronze Age, and Etruscan and Roman civilisations.
Officially named the Co-Cathedral of the Santissimo Salvatore, the Cathedral of Montalcino dates back to 1800, and is built in neoclassical style according to the design of architect Agostino Fantastici. Located in the historical centre, in the square of the same name, the Montalcino cathedral also has a bell tower, dating back to before the present church. Inside, however, one can admire the neoclassical style, with three naves, the central of which has a splendid coffered barrel vault.
The pipe organ in Montalcino Cathedral dates back to 1858, while among the works preserved inside is the Immaculate Conception with Jesus and God the Father by Francesco Vanni, dating back to 1588.
One of the undisputed symbols of Montalcino is its fortress, built in 1361 at the highest point of the town for protection from invaders. It has a pentagonal structure, and incorporates a number of buildings that existed before, including an ancient basilica, which became the chapel of the Romitorio, which already existed in Roman times.
There is also the possibility of walking along the bastions of the fortress, to admire splendid views of both Montalcino and the surrounding countryside.
Festival of the Thrush
Since 1957, on the last Sunday in October, Montalcino has celebrated the Sagra del Tordo, an event that finds its counterpart, albeit in a reduced version, in the Apertura delle Cacce, held instead on the second Sunday in August. Twice a year, therefore, the quarters of Montalcino, namely Borghetto (white and red), Pianello (white and blue), Ruga (yellow and blue) and Travaglio (yellow and red), take to the field to challenge each other in an archery competition that inflames the spirits of the entire population.
Wine cellar tour
One of the musts during a stay in Montalcino is a tour of the wine cellars. Choose your favourite winery, there are plenty of them around, and during opening hours, let yourself be guided inside a cellar to discover all the secrets of the famous Tuscan wine. Guided tours are usually held daily during the summer months and until October, and a tasting is almost always offered at the end.
Sometimes it is also possible to visit the vineyards, walking through the rows of vines, surrounded by a truly unique panorama. For more information, contact the farm of your choice.
Where to stay in Montalcino
The historical centre of Montalcino, with its narrow alleys and magnificent views, is the ideal place to sleep if you want a 100% authentic Tuscan experience, especially in the evening when day-trippers return home. There are plenty of flats and B&Bs here, all run by private owners who have skilfully restored the old buildings in the village, converting them into charming residences.
Don’t forget, however, that this area of Tuscany is the home of agritourisms: you will find so many, choose the one you prefer according to the services it offers, the price and the degree of isolation you prefer.
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How to get to Montalcino
Montalcino is located in a rather isolated position in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. It can be reached from Florence by travelling south to Siena via the Florence-Siena motorway junction, and then continuing on the SR2 to Buonconvento, from where the Strada Provinciale del Brunello branches off to Montalcino. The total travelling time is almost 2 hours.
Those who choose to visit Montalcino coming from the south must instead exit the A1 motorway at Chiusi-Chianciano Terme and then continue along the regional and provincial roads of the Sienese countryside, passing through Chianciano Terme, Bagno Vignoni and San Quirico d’Orcia. The distance from Rome is about two and a half hours.
Finally, to get to Montalcino by public transport, it is necessary to reach the Buonconvento railway station, located on the Grosseto-Florence line, by train and then continue by local bus for about 10-15 km.
What's the weather at Montalcino? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Montalcino for the next few days.
Where is located Montalcino
Montalcino is located in the province of Siena, about 40 km south of the provincial capital. Its territory borders the province of Grosseto to the east and Mount Amiata to the south. To the east of Montalcino is the Val d'Orcia, with the municipalities of Castiglione d'Orcia and San Quirico d'Orcia.