Montepulciano, itineraries in the surroundings
Travel guide to plan your holidays in Tuscany
Montepulciano (5 Km) - Chiusi (a 17 Km) - Chianciano Terme (15 Km) - Pienza (18 Km) - Castiglione del Lago (Km) - Torrita di Siena (10 Km) - Montefollonico (Km) - Cortona (29 Km) - Sarteano (22 Km) - Cetona (29 Km) - Montalcino (Km)
On the eastern slopes of the mountain bearing the same name, Cetona has retained its medieval structure, whith roads, alleys and stairways all leading to the fortress which dominates it. The local economy is mainly agricultural, but tourism as also been actively developed. Many famous people from the words of economics, theatre, fashion and culture live here in their renovated country homes and villas. Whitin only 5 km of the town can be found one of the oldest settlements in central Italy, dating back 40.000 years, and today known as the Parco archeologico naturalistico di Belverde. There are 25 prehistoric caves and the largest of these Saint Francis prayed. The Museo Civico contains remains from the bronze age collected from the area around the caves. In the next village, piazze, the romanic Collegiate church contains frescos by Pinturicchio. More informations www.prolocomontepulciano.it
In Etruscan times, on the southern edge of the Valdichiana, stood the town of Chamars, powerful enough, in that period, to defeat Rome. In the historical centre, with its medieval architecture as well as styles of the granduchy, remains of the Roman structure can still be seen which were built on top of yhe pre-existing etruscan town. The Museo archeologico nazionale contains excellent Etruscan finds and Greek ceramics from the contryside around Chiusi; the funeral urns and sarcophagi are particularly interesting. It is possible to visit the catacombs and Etruscan necropolises; the tomba del Leone (6th century b.C.) and the tomba della Pellegrina (5th century b.C.) are open. Definitely worth visiting are the Museo della Cattedrale and the "labirinto di Porsenna", underground water passages built by the Etruscan and including a large cistern which leads to the romanic cathedral bell tower. There are four neighbouring localities: Macciano, Montallese, Montevenere and Querce al Pino. Festivals: The festival of Santa Mustiola with its palio delle Torri and the September wine festival.
This spa town, which specialises in the treatment of liver disorders, is among the most famous in Italy. The special properties of the waters of Chianciano is not far from the spa centre with its hotels, shops, treatment centres and elegant parks where the therapeutic waters emerge: "acqua Sillene" is here are fulfilling and pleasant and dedicated to health and fitness. More than 2 million people visit Chianciano every year. Cultural attractions include the Museo Etrusco, soon to be opened, and the Museo della Collegiata. Also to be seen are the collegiate church of S.Giovanni Battista, built in 1229 and restored in 1809, the church of the Compagnia (1517), the Torre dell'Orologio with Medici crest and the church of Madonna della Rosa (1585) designed by B. Lanci.
The town stands on the top of a hill which overlooks the splendid Val d'Orcia. Enea Silvio Piccolomini was born here in 1405 and when he became pope Pius II in 1458 he decided to transform his modest village into the perfect town, an admirable example of the humanistic period, and entrusted the design to Bernardo Rossellino. Piazza Pio II is intact, incorporanting the most rigorous of Renaissance perspective, and containing the cathedral and Palazzo Piccolomini. The town's main axis is corso Rossellino, lined with houses built by the nobility in the 14th century. Pienza is a mainly agricultural centre, particularly famous for its pecorino cheese. The traditional cheese show, "fiera del cacio" takes place on the first Sunday in September. The flower show "Pienza e i fiori" takes place in mid May. Also to be visited is Monticchiello, made famous by its "Teatro povero", a new play anacted each summer by the local inhabitants.
CASTIGLIONE DEL LAGO
Castiglione del Lago is a fortified city on a small promontory on the west side of Lake Trasimeno. The city is still completely surrounded by the city wall with its original three gates. It is divided into two parts, the inhabited part that goes toward the land and that part which goes toward the lake which has only the Duke’s Palace and a large medieval fortress with its powerful, triangular, 30 m high mast. The ancient nucleus of Castiglione del Lago has a rectangular design, with Piazza Mazzini as the central axis. The entire city was set up using geometric and symbolic schemes of medieval urban planning. Towards the piazza, situated at the highest point of the inhabited section, the two main roadways converge. There are three rows of houses along the roads which were originally used by residents and craftsmen. The historical city is a good example of the balance between the houses and the garden areas (which were used for the markets) and the system of roads that united them. Today Castiglione, which is 40 km from both Perugia and Arezzo, is a tourist center with a large inland area where new housing has developed. There is a well developed area around the lake where the perimeter of the promontory is lined with pine trees, fields, sandy beaches and cliffs. The current population of the communal territory is 13,500 inhabitants.
TORRITA DI SIENA
Located in the centre of the Valdichiana, Torrita has transformed its traditional agricultural economy into on of light industry and crafts. The earliest historical records date back to 1037. The town subsequently became a fortress defending the Republic of Siena along its southern borders. Remains of the original walls include nine foundations and three doors. THe churches of S.Flora and S.Lucilla contain frescos and other valuable artistic works from the Sienese school. Here was born the famous highwayman Ghino di Tacco dei Monaceschi Pecorai and the Franciscan monk Iacopo da Torrita the restorer of mosaics. The donkey race "Palio dei Somari", takes place in March. Apart from the town itself, composed of the historical centre and a newer development, do not miss visiting Montefollonico, a village built around a former medieval castle and having remained largely intact. The walks here are particularly enjoable.
Montefollonico (576m above sea level) is a small medieval village whose raison d'être is found in the past rivalries between the republics of Siena and Florence; in fact the village was born as a Sienese fortress, against the "Florentine" Montepulciano. The first evidence of the area being inhabited dates as far back the Neanderthal man (approx. 60,000 years ago) with the Lithic tools found in the area of "Il Tondo" (now the public garden). In the following centuries we have accounts of a territorial dispute in the year 715 for the ownership of the church Pieve di San Valentino. The history of the village as such began in the XIIIth century with the foundation of the church Pieve di S. Leonardo by the Cistercian monks from the monastery nearby, who by dedicating themselves to fulling wool gave the village its name Mons a Fullonica. After various events Montefollonico was incorporated into the Tuscan Grand Duchy in 1555.
One of the twelve cities of the Etruscan League-substantial fragments of its primitive cyclopean defences can still be seen, incorporated in the medieval walls. Apart from a few fine Renaissance palaces, the prevailing character of Cortona's architecture is medieval, conferring on the steep narrow streets a strong sense of atmosphere. The city is commandingly situated (altitude 600 metres) and there are magnificent panoramas to every point of the compass, embracing the whole of the Val di Chiana. Prominent among many art works of various periods in the Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca are the Etruscan Chandelier known as the "lamp of Cortona", one of the most celebrated bronzes of antiquity, and the "Polyhymnia Muse", an encaustic painting of the Roman era, of Remarkable beauty. The Museo Diocesano displays works by Luca Signorelli, distinguished Renaissance painter and native of Cortona, and a much-admired "Annunciation" by Beato Angelico. The most important medieval buildings are the churches of San Francesco and San Domenico and The Palazzo Casali, which has a renaissance facade. In these, and in the Renaissance churces of Santa Maria Nuova and San Niccolò, valuable works of art are preserved.
A centre of ancient origins with a rich variety of tourists attractions and a particularly mild and pleasant climate which enhances the variety of springwater related activities. the old town, which dates back to the Neolithic age, is dominated by the Castle. Every year on August 15th the "Giostra del Saracino" is contested, a challenge on horseback between the five contrade or districts of the town and in which participants, using a lance, must catch a ring worn by a Saracen - the eternal enemy. The contest is preceded by the drawing of lots. Traditional dress is a feature of the event. Also worth a visit is Castiglioncello del Trinoro, a typical medieval village with a wonderful view of the valley below. Close to Sarteano, on the hill of Pietraporciana, a protected beech-wood has proved to be of special interest to the Italian botanical society. It is pleasant to eat out here in the picnic area provided.
On the eastern slopes of the mountain bearing the same name, Cetona has retained its medieval structure, whith roads, alleys and stairways all leading to the fortress which dominates it. The local economy is mainly agricultural, but tourism as also been actively developed. Many famous people from the words of economics, theatre, fashion and culture live here in their renovated country homes and villas. Whitin only 5 km of the town can be found one of the oldest settlements in central Italy, dating back 40.000 years, and today known as the Parco archeologico naturalistico di Belverde. There are 25 prehistoric caves and the largest of these Saint Francis prayed. The Museo Civico contains remains from the bronze age collected from the area around the caves. In the next village, piazze, the romanic Collegiate church contains frescos by Pinturicchio.
Without doubt, Montalcino lives a life of many souls. Montalcino as the birthplace of Brunello wine, whic someone once defined as the best and most renowned wine in Italy. From the height of its 564 m. the ancient town dominates the surrounding countryside, clinging to the slopes of a hill crowned by the imposing 14th-century fortress. In the labyrinth of little streets, amongst artisans'shops, small cafès and places selling typical local produce ( besides the wine, their honey and locally-made biscuits called "dead bones" are also well-known) the sights worth seeing are the fine Town Hall, the Bishp's Palace ( housing the United Civic, Diocesan and Archaeological Museums, with works by important 13th-16th century Sienese artists, such as Bartolo di Fredi, Il Sodoma, Bartolomeo Neroni), the antique Crucifix of Saint Antimus dating back to the mid-12th century, and the churches of Saint Augustine, Saint Giles and Saint Francis, all built between the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as the Sanctuary of our Lady of Succour. But it is just a little way out of town, near Castelnuovo dell'Abate in the Starcia valley that thhe heart of Montalcino spirituality is to be found:the Romanesque abbey of St.Antimus, a striking little temple enveloped in an almost magical atmosphere, founded by Charlemagne in 781. Finally, there are several castles on Montalcino land: the one worthy of mention is Poggio alle Mura, which has Longobard origins.