What to see in Montalcino, itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest, including Fortezza, Piazza del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori and Abbazia di Sant’Antimo.
A town in Tuscany in the province of Siena, Montalcino is located at 567 meters above sea level on the hills that divide the Val d'Orcia from the Ombrone Valley, in an area that boasts a prestigious wine production, including the renowned Brunello di Montalcino.
Some stone tools found in the countryside of Montalcino testify that the area was already inhabited in prehistoric times, while the Etruscan and Roman times are attested by other archaeological finds in the area where, around the tenth century, the village of Montalcino originated.
The oldest document dates back to 814 when the territory of Montalcino was donated by the emperor Ludovico il Pio to the Monastery of Sant’Antimo, whose abbots ruled the village for a long time with the title of Palatine counts.
In 1260, the free municipality of Montalcino, always grappling with the expansionist aims of Florence and Siena, following the Battle of Montaperti, was subjected to Siena which made it an important stronghold.
After the surrender of Siena to the Medici, from 1555 to 1559, Montalcino became the Republic of Siena withdrawn to Montalcino, after which it passed to the Medici State and followed its fate.
An imposing fourteenth-century fortress built by the Sienese, which includes part of the walls and towers of the previous century, dominates the village still surrounded by walls, with six gates and the remains of the towers.
It is possible to access from the internal courtyard, to the ramparts and towers of the fortress, whose external spur was added in 1559 by the Medici, and thus admire the splendid panorama below.
The main square of Montalcino is Piazza del Popolo which overlooks the Town Hall, also known as Palazzo dei Priori, built between the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century.
The building has Florentine-style architecture, adorned with coats of arms, with a very high medieval tower and a large porch called the cappellaccio.
Also on the same square there are the ancient loggias, known as Il Cappellone, because in the thirteenth century the first part was built as a public chapel, then extended in the fifteenth century with round brick arches.Recommended readings
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The Cathedral dedicated to the Holy Savior is located in the oldest part of the town, overlooking the square of the same name.
The neoclassical building, which is the result of a reconstruction carried out between 1818 and 1832, on the site of an eleventh century parish church, which had been elevated to a cathedral in 1462 by Pope Pius II and of which some remain architectural fragments.
The Church of Sant'Agostino overlooking the homonymous square dates back to the fourteenth century and preserves frescoes depicting episodes from the life of the saint.
Near the church is the ex-convent of the Augustinians, which houses the interesting Civic and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, which also includes an archaeological section.
Among the various works that are kept in the Museum there are the Atlantic Bible illuminated by Sienese artists of the twelfth century, some Della Robbia terracotta and a collection of archaic majolica produced in Montalcino between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries.
Noteworthy are the fourteenth-century Church of Sant’Egidio dei Senesi and the Church of the Madonna del Soccorso dating back to the fourteenth century, then radically enlarged in the fifteenth century and completed in the seventeenth century, which preserves the very ancient Table of the Madonna inside.
Among the main events, the one that takes place twice a year, in which the districts of Montalcino, Borghetto, Pianello, Ruga and Travaglio, recall medieval tournaments challenging each other in an archery competition.
These events consist of the Hunting Opening Tournament, which takes place on the second Sunday of August, and the Thrush Festival, scheduled for the last Sunday of October.
The Abbey of Sant’Antimo, located 8 km away, was in the past a convent complex of considerable importance.
Of the ancient structures only the Romanesque church dating back to the ninth century but rebuilt in 1100 in travertine and onyx remains.
The facade includes an interesting portal, on the right side there is a portal of the year one thousand and on the left side another portal of the ninth century.
Inside, with three naves with columns and pillars with splendid capitals, it is interesting to visit the galleries and chapels that open in the semicircular apse.
At the altar stands a remarkable Romanesque crucifix from the year 1000, while the eleventh century crypt has three naves divided by four columns.