Things to do in Montepulciano, Italy
Montepulciano, Italy, is small but perfectly formed; it doesn’t have many activities or museums, but it’s the ideal place to relax with a glass of wine as you look over the Tuscan countryside. True to its name (‘Monte’ means ‘Mountain’), Montepulciano sits on a ridge over 600 meters above sea level.
Piazza Grande, Montepulciano
Start your day in Montepulciano at the Piazza Grande. This square is the heart and soul of Montepulciano and the center of the town. You’ll find some of the most important buildings here, like the Duomo (cathedral). This building might not be that impressive from the outside, but inside you’ll find some of the town’s most important artworks. You’ll also find incredible frescoes, tiles, and stained glass.
In Piazza Grande, you’ll also see the Palazzo Comunale, which is a beautiful clock tower. Best of all, you can climb to the top for amazing views!
After you’ve visited the main buildings, sit in the square for a while and take in the hustle and bustle of Montepulciano.
Wander the Streets
Wandering the remarkable streets is one of the best things to do in Montepulciano. It feels quintessentially Italian, with the cobbled stones, ancient houses, terracotta roofs, and different colored Vespas parked on each corner.
Start at one of the entry gates into the Historic Center (‘Centro Storico’), either Porta al Prato or the Porta Delle Farine (the two main gates). From here, wander up the II Corso, a beautiful uphill street that takes you through town. Make sure to stop and admire the beautiful houses lived in by some of the wealthiest families in Montepulciano throughout the ages.
Stop and have a coffee (or two!) on your way as you browse the artisan shops selling ceramics, art, jewelry, and homemade food.
Visit a Viewpoint in Montepulciano, Italy
Because of its high position, one of the top things to do in Montepulciano is to visit a viewpoint. Veduta Panoramica is a beautiful viewpoint at the edge of the historic center walls. It’s the perfect place to come for incredible views over the Tuscan countryside, especially at sunset.
The Medici Fortress is also another great option, a place of historic ruins with a great terrace viewpoint. You can also do some wine tasting here!
However, the best viewpoint is at the top of Palazzo Comunale. It’s the highest place to go for views in Montepulciano, and on a clear day, you can see Lago di Trasimeno in Umbria and Siena in the distance.
Sanctuary Madonna di San Biagio
There are many churches in Montepulciano (Italy), but one of the most beautiful and popular is the Madonna di San Biagio. This renaissance pilgrimage church was built between 1518 and 1540, so there is plenty of history to be found.
It’s well known that the architect was influenced by the work of St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, which inspired the large domed roof. Once inside, things get even more interesting with the geometric shapes and a floor plan in the shape of a Greek cross. It’s also home to the best renaissance art in the area!
Tip: Sanctuary Madonna di San Biagio is a little harder to get to than other churches in Montepulciano. It’s outside the walls at the bottom of the hill, so it is possible to walk down to the church. However, prepare yourself for a challenging and hot walk back up afterward. Some people choose to park here before going into Montepulciano.
Visit a Wine Cellar
One of the best things to do in Montepulciano is wine tasting! The region is famous for its beautiful vineyards and its wine, ‘Vino di Nobile di Montepulciano’, made from the Sangiovese grape. This type of wine is aged for a minimum of 2 years in huge oak barrels that are placed in stone cellars deep underground.
Join a wine cellar tour and learn about the drink that makes Montepulciano so famous as you wander among the tunnels, cellars, and chambers. You’ll get to see the impressive barrels, taste the wine, and learn all about the process from grape to glass. Plus, it’s a great way to learn a bit about Montepulciano’s history. Afterward, make sure to buy some wine from the tasting or from one of the many wine shops in town.
Discover the Hilltop Town of Pienza
If you’re staying a night or two in Montepulciano, you can’t miss the charming hilltop town of Pienza. This beautiful town is just a 20-minute drive away, among the famous landscapes of Val d’Orcia. Above all, it’s renowned for its renaissance architecture and pecorino cheese!
Pienza is also the first place to use renaissance humanist urban design principles. These are now used across the globe, which is why the town has been awarded UNESCO world heritage status.
Read: Everything about Pienza, Italy
Tip: Visiting in September? Make sure to visit Pienza for the annual Pecorino festival.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Montepulciano
Italy is known for its cuisine, so one of the top things to do in Montepulciano is to eat! The town is famous for its delicious olive oil, honey, pork, pecorino cheese, and the local style of pasta, ‘Pici’. There are many excellent restaurants to choose from but make sure to book ahead, especially in high season, as they will get busy. Some of our favorites are:
- La Vineria
- Osteria del Borgo
- Ristorante la Grotta
- La casa di Edel
If you really want to get to grips with Tuscan dishes, book a cooking class while you’re in Montepulciano, Tuscany. It’s a great way to learn about local ingredients, try regional delicacies, and get experimental in the kitchen.
Where to Stay in Montepulciano, Italy
Montepulciano can be visited on a day trip. However, we recommend staying at least one night as it’s nice to see the quiet streets after the tour groups have left.
Book accommodation in the historic center or stay at an Agro Turismo in the valley below.
How to Visit Montepulciano, Italy
Montepulciano, Italy, sits high up on a hill overlooking an unspoiled valley of rolling hills and cypress trees. Because of its location, it’s harder to access using public transport. For example, there’s no train station in town; the nearest is a few km away, so you’ll need to catch a bus or taxi to Montepulciano. There is a bigger train station in the nearby town of Chiusi, which has more trains and regular buses.
However, if you can, rent a car in Italy, so you can road trip through Tuscany with greater flexibility. When you get to Montepulciano, you can find reasonably priced car parking outside the city walls.
We recommend to rent a car in Italy through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your rental car here.
Alternatively, join an organized tour from bigger cities like Siena or Florence, including return transportation and a guided tour. However, be aware that these tours typically arrive in Montepulciano at peak times, so it will be busier.
How Much Does Montepulciano Cost?
Montepulciano is a popular spot for tourists, so restaurants and hotels can be a little more expensive, especially in the historic center and close to the main square. Travel outside of peak season for lower prices, or stay outside of Montepulciano in the valley below.
Best Time to Visit Montepulciano, Italy
Summer in Montepulciano is beautiful, but it’s very hot and overpacked as it’s a prime time for vacationers and tour groups.
Instead, choose the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring, which are cooler and quieter.
Tip: Try to avoid weekends or come early in the morning to avoid daytrippers.
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