Montalcino Musings

5 04 2007

Montepulciano is the biggest and highest of southern Italy’s hill towns with medieval alleyways and loads of palazzos and chiusas (churches). The fields around it produce a violet scented orange speckled ruby red wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, called the king of all wines. It is #2 only to the beefy Montalcino’s Brunello. The locals call themselves Poliziani after the Roman name of the town.

You can get here by rail. Use the Chiusi/Chiancino Terme stazione. There are 30 daily trains on the main Roma-Firenze line (1 h 45 – 2 h 45′ from Firenze) or the 16 trains on the secondary Siena line (1h 15). On the Siena line, do not get off at Montepulciano Staz and local LFI buses to Montepulciano are coordinated with trains only at the Chiusi stazione. The adventurous (not me!) can drive: from Siena (quicker, more scenic) is south on the SS2 to San Quirico d’Orcia, then the SS146 through Pienza to Montepulciano. From Firenze, take the A1 South to the Chiancino Terme exit, then the SS146 (directio Chianciano) for 11 miles. Which is 18 km. You could take the bus in which case I will probably never hear from you again. You can get tickets at Caffe Tubino in the little parking lot just below Porta al Prato (Tra-in and Ferroviaria) or the tabacchi at Via Gracchiano del Corso 36-38 (for LFI).

The tourist office is on the right side of Sant’Agostino at Via Gracchiano nel Corso 591 (Phone 0578-757-341), and is closed Sunday afternoons. Thursday is Market Day.

The local wine consortium has a tasting center in the Palazzo del Capitano on Piazza Grande where you can sample Mon thro Fri (1100-13300; 1600-1900) and Sat (1100-1500). Montepulciano has more enoteche and cantine (wine cellars) where you can sample local products such as pecorino, honey, olive oil and the nobile of course. The Pulcino shop (Via Gracciano nel Corso 80) is wonderful. The Gattavecchi cantine is intriguing. Also visit the Contucci winery and Avignonesi show room.

En route to Chiusi is the spa town of Chiancino.

Some important links to know: