MONTALCINO: NOT JUST RED WINE COUNTRY
Though celebrated as having lent its names to one of the world’s best red wines, Montalcino is no less significant for its artistic treasures, once you see past its 3,000 hectares of vineyards (1500 of them dedicated to Brunello). The town of Montalcino is located between the Ombrone and Orcia valleys.
Orcia Valley, created by the Apennines chain formation, is among the most picturesque locales in Tuscany, characterised is the presence of calanques, formed on the valley’s clayey terrain by the erosion caused by rain, wind and frost. In spring, the ash-grey colour of clay blends into green, while in summer it turns golden yellow. If nothing else, it makes for some great photography. And thanks to its excellent accommodation, Montalcino has gained immense popularity among tourists to Italy.
The Rocca built in 1361 to mark the town’s passage under Siena’s dominion dominates historical Montalcino. The view from its walls stretches toward Monte Amiata, across the Crete to Siena, across Val d’Orcia and the hills of Maremma. Montalcino is also famous for the splendid tower that graces its town hall, built between the 13th and 14th centuries. Below lies the main square known as Piazza del Popolo with its characteristic Gothic loggia.
Also worth visiting are the churches dedicated to Sant’Egidio (14th century) and the Museo Civico e Diocesano, whose exhibits include paintings and sculptures dating from the 14th-20th centuries and glazed terracotta from the Della Robbia workshop. The surrounding country roads wind through vineyards to Torrenieri, Sant’Angelo in Colle and Poggio alle Mura. By way of Castelnuovo dell’Abate a road leads to the splendid Sant’Antimo abbey, one of Italy’s finest examples of Romanesque architecture.
No discussion on Montalcino is complete without a section on it renowned wines, for which the town has been famous since the 1400s. It was Ferruccio Biondi Santi, however, who first had the idea of leaving out the Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo and Colorino grapes, which were part of the traditional Chianti recipe, using instead only the Sangiovese variety. A bottle in the family collection dated 1888 may be considered the first outcome of that grand experiment. Brunello di Montalcino was among the first Italian wines to be awarded with the DOC appellation in 1966 and with the DOCG appellation in 1980. The town also produces Moscadello di Montalcino and Sant’Antimo, as well as several other vintages.
Accommodation in Montalcino includes fine hotels, luxury villas, vineyards that promote agritourism, and bead & breakfasts. Our list gives you some of the choicest Montalcino accommodations, and you should definitely check it out before you set out!