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Montepulciano - Where to Stay, Where to Eat, Wineries to Visit

Hello! I was contacted directly by another forum member asking for my thoughts and suggestions on Montepulciano in southern Tuscany. As a little background, we have been travelling to Montepulciano at least once a year (sometimes more) since 2013/14. It has become one of our favorite places in Italy to visit because although it is a hilltop town, there is a lot to be discovered here. Montepulciano is larger than Pienza, but smaller than Siena. Although there are a decent amount of tourist who travel to Montepulciano, it has been able to hold on to its authentic roots. You can feel the authenticity this town represents as it is on the verge of being discovered as a destination.

The part of Tuscany where Montepulciano is located is what you see when your eyes are closed and someone says “Tuscany”. This is the place of red poppy fields in the spring that are replaced by yellow sunflowers in summer. There are the rolling hills and cypress lined roads that almost look like Hollywood created a set for a movie. Speaking of, this is the area where movies where filmed that include “Under the Tuscan Sun”, “Twilight”, The English Patient”, “300”, “Medici” (Netflix series), and so many more.

We have visited almost every month of the year, and there is always some event or festival to enjoy. In July, there is an international arts/music festival, in August, there is the Bravio – the famous barrel race, and from mid-November through the beginning of January, there is an AMAZING Christmas Market.

Montepulciano also makes a great home base to explore Tuscany and Umbria. Within 1.5 hours or less, you can visit Florence, Siena, Cortona, Pienza, Montalcino, Arezzo, Perugia, Assisi, Deruta, Orvieto, plus many other smaller hilltop towns. It’s even possible to visit the sea in under 2 hours.

Here are my suggestions for accommodations, restaurants, and wineries to visit if you are planning a trip to Montepulciano. These are places that we have discovered and been going to for years:

Accommodations:
• Fonte Martino (https://www.fontemartino.com/) – This is our number one place to stay. It is owned by 2 super nice and welcoming Americans and opened last year after an extensive renovation. These two did it right and created a little piece of paradise. They are just outside of the city center of Montepulciano, but only about a 5 minute drive. The rooms are spacious, modern, clean, and full of little perks like complimentary bottle of wine, in-wall USB chargers, and even an Amazon Alexa. The suites come with under floor heating in the cooler months, excellent AC for the warmer months, and there is even a fireplace in each suite for romantic evenings. In the summer, they grow most of the produce they serve during their amazing breakfasts. This is now our place to stay when we visit.
• Charming Homes (https://www.charminghomemontepulciano.com/) – This was where we would stay before finding Fonte Martino. The owner is from Argentina and is also really nice. These are apartments located in town. Very clean, whimsically decorated, and spacious. The only negative is that you need to park in the public parking lots and walk to the apartments. This is not usually an issue, but can be cumbersome if you have a lot of luggage.

Continued below because I am long winded....

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Restaurants – all of the below source their food locally:

• Osteria Porta di Bacco (https://www.portadibacco.it/en) – Excellent restaurant just inside the main entrance to Montepulciano. It has been open for a few years and was recently renovated in 2019. The food is wonderful, the atmosphere is wonderful, and there is an excellent wine shop also attached.
• L’Altro Cantuccio (http://www.laltrocantuccio.it/) – Fantastic restaurant that serves modern food. Their dishes are very creative and very showy without being pretentious at all. It is a really fun experience with superb service.
• La Grotta (http://www.lagrottamontepulciano.it/intro.php) – This is a fantastic restaurant that does everything right. The service is top quality, the food is amazing, and they have a wonderful outdoor garden to dine under the stars and in the shadow of San Biagio (a 500 year old church).
• Le Logge del Vignola (http://www.leloggedelvignola.com/en/) – located in the historic center, this is a very intimate restaurant that serves excellent food. They tent to hold true to traditional recipes, but add a bit of a twist to reinvent them.

Wineries:
• De’ Ricci (https://www.cantinadericci.it/) – Located in the historic center, this place is wonderful. You start by going down a stone staircase that just keeps going down. Just when you think you reached the bottom, it keeps going. When you finally get to the bottom, you are in their ancient wine cellar with massive barrels. You can go on a self-guided tour of their cellar and will eventually end up in their tasting room. They are very kind and never pressure you to purchase any of their wonderful wines…but you will want to!
• Avignonesi (https://www.avignonesi.it/) – This is an actual winery about 30 minutes form Montepulciano, but still in Montepulciano proper. This is a massive and incredible operation. You can arrive without an appointment and enjoy a tour, their tasting room, and lunch. Or, you can schedule in advance “The Grand Experience”. With this, you get a tour of the winery that ends with a multi-course lunch where each course is paired with their wines. Be sure to have a designated driver because they do not pour lightly and do pour frequently!
• Enoliteca Consorzio Vino Nobile (https://www.enolitecavinonobile.it/it/index.php) – This is a must see. Located in the main fortress at the very top of Montepulciano, you can taste over 100 different labels of locally produced wines. Their tasting room has a glass floor with Etruscan ruins lit up underneath.

I hope this helps anyone who is considering a visit to Montepulciano and also anyone looking for a great place to visit in Italy. If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know!

Posted by
1093 posts

What a great resource you have contributed. I hope readers can appreciate the deep benefits of getting to know an area as you have versus the superficiality of a bucket list.

Posted by
867 posts

Oh TJ, what a magnificent report of so much to experience in Montepulciano! I've stayed there twice, each time for several days, making it a home base for exploring other Tuscan towns nearby, but you describe so much that I didn't experience that I certainly need to go back soon! Two things that stood out for me: staying at the Politian Apartments each time, near the "top" of town. The apartments are spacious, beautiful, with lots of light, and windows looking out over the valley. (Also, the lovely owners provide a parking pass that allows you to park your car in the street right by the apartments.) Also: I loved just walking down and up the main street (yes... down and up!) chatting with various artists and watching them work. I especially enjoyed the mosaic artist who works near his front door doing beautiful street and landscape scenes in fine mosaic glass.

Posted by
513 posts

Thank you TJ!

Hard to beat the Locanda San Francesco, at the end of Via Ricci, just up from the Piazza Grande; next to the exit road. Very comfortable, nice breakfast in the library, a wine bar downstairs, parking on site. Valley views from every room. I don't use hotels.com, but they have pictures of every one. There are 3 good restaurants on Via Ricci, or you can drive down the hill to La Grotta by the San Biagio church. Another good restaurant a short distance away is Il Covo.

The advantage of staying in town vs out in the countryside is not having to drive around at night for dinner. One very big exception would be La Fonte.

https://www.wanderingitaly.com/maps/valdorcia.html

Posted by
82 posts

Thanks everyone! It makes me so happy you like my suggestions and I really appreciate the additional suggestions. Montepulciano just has so much to offer and even though we have been coming the past couple of years, there is always something new and amazing!

Mike, I completely agree about getting to know an area. We have friends who didn’t take our advice and decided to try to see the entire country of Italy in 12 to 14 days. The only thing they remember is being exhausted. Truly spending time in an area lets you see below the surface and only enhances the experience.

Jmauldinuu, we are very familiar with the hills of Montepulciano! There are some pretty steep ones, but that just allows me to eat more pasta! We love the artists as well. The coppersmith and mosaic artist are two of our favorites. There is also a local artist who has her own gallery on the main street. Her name is Jennifer and she has an amazing talent. Her dad was in the shop one of the times we stopped in and you can just tell how proud of her he is. Great family and very talented artist!

N_Kingdom, thanks for the additional suggestions. We have been wanting to try Il Covo – it’s on our list for this summer! Also, thanks for the link. This is one I haven’t seen before is has some great suggestions.

One other suggestion I wanted to add – be sure to check out Sgarbi Gelato! They just opened this past year too and their gelato is some of the best I have ever had. The make natural gelato with no additives, preservatives, or fake colors. My absolute favorite (besides all of them) is their toasted pistachio…amazing!!!

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you, TJ, for this helpful information about Montepulciano. I am travelling there solo in about two weeks thanks to a lot of help from people on this forum. I have been travelling to Italy for over 60 years and mostly stayed in larger cities, but decided I wanted a place to take it easy and slow. Being elderly, I also wanted to make sure the room had adequate heat and wasn’t too far from town. I called the owners of a few places and ultimately decided on Fonte Martino after speaking with them. After I return, I intend to write a full review of my trip with the hope of it helping other solo travelers.

Posted by
16 posts

TJ, thank you so much for this fabulous post. My husband and I are taking our first trip to Italy the end of April. It has been a long time dream to visit Italy and we will be staying just over three weeks.

We are staying at Fonte Martino for five nights, as our home base, to explore the Tuscany countryside. We will have already been in Florence for four nights to experience the history and art of that area. All your detailed recommendations are so so appreciated.

As far as organized tours, both in Florence as well as the Tuscan countryside, what are your recommendations? Do you suggest organized winery tours or simply exploring on our own? The helpful owners at Fonte Martino mentioned two potential recommendations for winery experiences. One was hiring a guide by the hour for an individual tour. The second was the larger winery experience you mentioned.

We will have a car, which leads me to my second question. We will be coming from Florence and heading to Rome after our five nights at Fonte Martino. Do you advise picking up the car in Florence or taking the train into someplace in the Tuscan countryside to pick up the car? Returning the car in Tuscany and taking the train to Rome or driving to Rome before dropping off the car?

Thank you so much for helping guide us through the details of our stay.

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206 posts

I have not visited Montepulciano, but I have read many references to it in the 1930s-40s diaries of Iris Origo, who with her husband owned an estate in Val D'Orcia called "la Foce" and aided the Allied effort through sheltering British and American escaped POWs. The diaries are titled "War in Val D'Orcia" and "A Chill in the Air.:" I hope to visit this area in the next few years and see the gardens at La Foce.
https://www.lafoce.com/en/

Posted by
69 posts

I'm going to be in an agriturismo just outside of Pienza for four nights in May so I am definitely bookmarking this. Thanks!

Posted by
82 posts

This is crazy that two forum members already have reservations at our favorite place to stay in Montepulciano!

Ntagg35, you will have a wonderful time with the hosts at Fonte Martino. I look forward to hearing about your vacation and thoughts when you return!

Debrynklein, it sounds like you have an amazing trip planned. Our longest stay was about two weeks…we hope to be able stay longer in the future. As far as my thoughts on tours, that’s a tough one. For us, we tend to go out and explore on our own. We love to get lost and see what we discover. Quite honestly, the only time we ever used a tour was to “skip the line” to see sights. But, if the tour guide can offer something different that you can’t find on your own, then it might be an option. Sorry to be wishy-washy, but it really depends on how you want to spend your vacation.

As for my thoughts on the car rental, for us, we always pick up at an airport and drop off at an airport. Although there are rental places in some towns near the train stations, we got burned a few times because of their limited hours. Pretty much forget about getting or returning a car on the weekends. Hope this helps.

Elizabeth, we have been to La Foce and it is stunning! Be sure to keep this one on your bucket list – simply beautiful!!!

Posted by
11 posts

I’m visiting Italy in August and I’m enjoying your comments on Montepulciano. I’d like to spend about a week there, but I’m wondering how necessary it will be to rent a car. Without a car I’m wondering how limited my mobility would be.
Another option would be to stay in Florence and just take day trips out into the countryside. So, let me know your thoughts.

Posted by
3931 posts

Thanks, TJ. We're spending about 5 days in Siena in June, and will probably spend at least one, maybe two, of those days visiting another town in the area, possibly Montepulciano.

Bookmarking!

Posted by
12 posts

TJ, we also found Montepulciano to be a great base for a week in southern Tuscany in October 2012. For readers who might wish to stay in an apartment in the old city, I'd suggest considering the city apartments owned by the Sant' Antonio Country Resort. We stayed in La Terrazza. The hosts of the resort get great reviews, mostly from guests staying at their converted monastery just outside town, but we found (at least in 2012) that they gave us great attention and support when we stayed at their place in town. Your caution about walking from the public parking lot to a city apartment is well taken. Our hosts brought our bags to the apartment when we checked in but on our daily excursions we had a bit of a hike.

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cce631 asked about the need for a car in Montepulciano - my suggestion is to absolutely have a rental car. There is limited taxi service there, but most times it must be pre-scheduled. If you have a rental car, you are not on someone else's time schedule and you can explore the amazing Tuscan countryside. Honestly speaking, driving in Italy is not as big of a deal as it may seem.

Also, please make sure you visit your local AAA and get an international drivers license. It costs $20 and is good for 1 year. Most rental car companies will not rent to you without it now. Also, if you are pulled over by the police (very unlikely), you must have it with you.

Posted by
23 posts

Great thread!

I too will be in Montepulciano this summer.
I am staying in Montalcino, Siena and Chianti Radda because of my avid wine tasting appointments. I have a total of 12 nights.

I have booked my restaurants, wineries and lodging. Everyone on that side is optimistic that come June 2020, travel will be under way.
I will have a driver, so please if you are driving, watch your wine consumption. A little goes a long way and in Italy driving buzzed is serious.

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11 posts

Thanks TJ. I downloaded the form for the drivers license but I haven’t filled it out yet, I’ve been stuck inside because of the virus. I’m hoping this will end soon and then I will drop it to AAA.