Montalcino is an ancient hill-top town with fantastic views across the Asso, Ombrone and Arbia valleys below. Famous for the Brunello wine, Montalcino and its ancient walls are firmly on the tourist map of Tuscany.
An Etruscan dwelling in the area of what is now known as Montalcino, is recorded as far back as 814 AD. Historians believe that the dwelling existed here because of its proximity to the nearby Abbey of Sant’Antimo.
In medieval times, Montalcino was famous for leather goods such as shoes and boots produced from leather made in the local tanneries.
Whilst the tanneries of Montalcino have now gone, there are many opportunities for employment in the area within Tourism or in the wine and olive oil production.
The main attraction of Montalcino are the 13th Century fortress and historical centre.
Medieval Walls and Fortress
The Fortress at Montalcino was first built in 1361 and is in the shape of a pentagon (five sides). The southern walls, the Keep of Santo Martini, the San Giovanni tower and the ancient basilica or castle chapel are part of the original build of the Fortress. The Fortress was the seat of the Abbot of the nearby Abbey of Sant’Antimo.
The Walls had been started in the 13th Century before the plans for the fortress were completed.
Originally a convent building, the Musei holds a collection of various religious works across the centuries, including 2 beautiful 15th Century sculptures made of wood, some of terracotta and some noted artwork by Italian painters.
The San Salvatore Cathedral dates back to the 14th Century but was renovated in the 19th Century which has given it more of a neo-classical appearance.
The main piazza and streets
Montalcino is similar to many of the ancient Tuscan cities and is divided into different quarters (contrade). Throughout the contrade are beautiful buildings and churches along with stunning views across the valleys below and a walk around the streets of the town are certainly worth including in any itinerary for a day out in Montalcino.
The Piazza del Popolo is full of medieval buildings and a tower very much worthy of photos.
The Abbey of Sant’Antimo
On the outskirts of Montalcino, the Abbey of Sant’Antimo stands out amongst the countryside. Originally a Benedictine Monastery and hostel for religious visitors of 714 AD and visited by Charlemagne on his return from a trip to Rome, it was granted Abbey status in the 814 AD. At the height of its power, the Abbey controlled 96 castles and 85 other churches and monasteries.
Below are some ideas of things to do in and around Montalcino. More information and ideas can be found on the Montalcino website (an English language version is being completed)
In 2007, Castello Banfi became more famous for the discovery of a fossilised whale skeleton than its normal Brunello wines.
Canalicchio di Sotto is near to the turning from Buonconvento.
Run by a husband and wife team, visits can be made to the Fattoria Poggio Di Sotto.
Takes place every Friday morning
Montalcino produces local honey, salamis and cheese. The salamis are made from a mixture of the Cinta Senese pigs and wild boar.
Montalcino plays host to a number of events throughout the year from cycle tours and jazz festivals to ballets and wine festivals. Details of all the events can be found on the local tourist information website - http://www.prolocomontalcino.it/
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