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Top Ten Things To Do

  • Montalcino offers a neoclassical Cathedral, a Gothic loggia, a Romanesque church and myriad alleys - but in the end it’s the medieval mood, the fortress and wine that lodge in the memory.  

  • 1. La Fortezza views

    Also known as La Rocca, this magnificent Sienese bastion finally fell to the Florentines in 1555. Today it’s a citadel that sums up Montalcino, from wine to wide vistas and freedom. Children can run around the ramparts while parents are plotting a wine-tasting. The approach to the Rocca is through olive groves and the slopes famous for Brunello wine. But the asymmetrical fortress, astride a spur of land, dominates the landscape. From the fortress gardens there is a sense of freedom and boundless space. Climb upto the battlements for views over the Val d’Orcia and Monte Amiata. 
    Address: Piazzale Fortezza, 53024 Montalcino (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 849211
    Web: www.enotecalafortezza.com

  • 2. L’Enoteca wine-tasting

    The Fortezza reveals much about military history and medieval warfare - along with a sense of the wealth that wine has brought to the region. The fortress is largely empty apart from the Enoteca, the wine shop and wine bar offers wine and food tastings and that charts the full range of prized local wines. The star is Brunello di Montalcino, the first wine in Italy to be given the DOCG denominazione for excellence. 
    Address: Piazzale Fortezza, 53024 Montalcino (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 849211
    Web: www.enotecalafortezza.com

  • 3. Sant’Antimo - mystical abbey

    This Romanesque abbey founded by Charlemagne is set amidst cypresses in a peaceful valley south of Montalcino. Since 2016, the abbey has been home to a group of white-clad Olivetan monks from Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a Benedictine order dating back to 1319. The ancient abbey of Sant’Antimo, built of creamy travertine and set against tree-clad hills, continues to inspire visitors. Designed in the French and Lombard style, the abbey is built from local travertine, which resembles alabaster or onyx. The interior has a translucent quality and, as the light changes, turns luminously golden, white and brown. The Romanesque church reels you in with its carved capitals, its Gregorian chant, its Cistercian spirit. The monks still celebrate Mass in Gregorian chant.
    Address: Località Sant’Antimo 222, 53024 Castelnuovo Dell Abate (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 835659
    Web: www.antimo.it

  • 4. Abbey trails from Sant’Antimo

    The dreamy landscape south of Montalcino means that rambles around Sant’Antimo are among the loveliest in Tuscany. A waymarked trail links the abbey of Sant’Antimo with Montalcino on a gentle, 9.5-kilometre walk that reveals sweeping views over Monte Amiata and the Val d’Orcia. A far more challenging 18-kilometre trail connects the abbey with Bagno Vignoni, via the medieval fortress of Ripa d’Orcia. En route are views of the Brunello vineyards, the soft hills around Pienza and the looming presence of Monte Amiata. A guide is recommended for the longer hike.
    Address: Località Sant’Antimo 222, 53024 Castelnuovo Dell Abate (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 835659
    Web: www.antimo.it

  • 5. Castello Banfi – heavenly wine-tasting

    This posh wine estate is centred on a 12th-century castle with views heavenly enough to justify a visit, even without the prestigious wines. The estate provokes a mixture of admiration, envy and resentment locally as it’s not quite Tuscan enough for Tuscan diehards. Banfi is internationally-minded, innovative, experimental and owned by an Italo-American family. Run with smooth professionalism, the constellation of single vineyards produce highly-rated Brunello wines which can be tasted in L’Enoteca, the wine-tasting rooms at the foot of the castle. Try the intense and opulent Poggio alle Mura Riserva Brunello 2011 - or even stay for lunch (see Eating & Drinking).
    Address: Castello di Poggio alle Mura, 53024 Montalcino (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 877700
    Web: www.castellobanfi.com

  • 6. Terme Sensoriali spa break

    A drive east from Montalcino crosses the Val d’Orcia to the spa resort of Chianciano Terme and the appealing day spa of Le Terme Sensoriali.  This so-called “sensory spa” focuses on all the senses and matches imaginative aesthetics with an eclectic approach. The core spa philosophy is that different elements, including water, fire, air and colour are used to awaken the senses. Its classic day circuit includes thermal pools with sauna, steam rooms, jacuzzis and outdoor/indoor pools. Combine the circuit with a specific treatment, ranging from classic massages and facials to treatments based on the healing powers of the thermal springs or esoteric therapies inspired by Ayurveda. For a more old-fashioned spa experience, consider Bagni San Filippo in the Val d’Orcia.
    Address: Terme Sensoriali, Parco Acqua Santa, 53042 Chianciano Terme (SI)
    Tel: +39 848 800 243
    Web: www.termesensoriali.it

  • 7. Biondi Santi – soul of Brunello

    If Brunello di Montalcino has a soul, it should be here, in a family-run wine estate that dates back centuries. Ferruccio Biondi Santi is credited with inventing Brunello di Montalcino in the late 1800s. Since then, the estate has continued to lead the way, perfecting new techniques with each successive generation of wine-makers. The wine cellar includes vintages from as far back as 1888. Montalcino means the formidable Brunello di Montalcino as well as Rosso di Montalcino and a stable of other prestigious Tuscan DOCG. Biondi Santi is a doorway into this wine world.
    Address: Tenuta Il Greppo, Villa Greppo 183, 53024 Montalcino (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 848087
    Web: www.biondisanti.com

  • 8. A pair of planet-friendly estates

    If you care about saving the planet and drinking eco-friendly wines, these are two local Montalcino estates that could be visited in tandem.

    Casa Raia estate sits on a promontory beneath medieval Montalcino and is committed to biodiversity and respect for the land. The neatly-planted vineyards cover gentle slopes, spilling down to the valley below. The friendly owners produce a fine organic Brunello but also noted olive oil.

    Address: Podere Scarnacuoia 284, 53024 Montalcino (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 847254
    Web: www.casaraia.com

  • Pian Dell’Orino
    Framed by cypress-clad hills, close to the Biondi Santi vineyards, this estate is proud of its biodynamic approach to wine-making. Pian dell’Orio is environmentally-friendly without being typically traditional. The estate combines both old-school and high-tech methods to produce top-quality Brunello wine.

    Address: Localita Piandellorino 189, 53024 Montalcino (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 849301
    Web: www.piandellorino.com

  • 9. La Bagnaia golf course

    The golf course is between Montalcino and Siena, at Murlo on the Siena to Grosseto road, 12 kms from the provincial capital. From the Club House you can even see the towers of Siena looming in the distance. Royal Golf La Bagnaia is a Links-style course, surrounded by gentle hills and wooded valleys. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, the 18-hole course is heavily bunkered, with well-maintained greens and fairways. The golf course is connected to La Bagnaia Resort, complete with a Clarins spa and several restaurants, including a pizzeria and cocktail bar.
    Address: Strada Statale 223, Località Bagnaia, 53016 Murlo (SI)
    Tel: +39 0577 8187741
    Web: www.labagnaiaresort.com

  • 10. Nature Train ride

    When planning a Tuscan trip, check the retro-inspired Nature Train and book ahead, ideally including a journey through Montalcino vineyards or linked to a wine festival. There is usually a good one in April that crosses the gorgeous Val d’Orcia, the Montalcino vineyards and the mysterious clay hillocks of the crete senesi. The vintage (or steam) train service runs from March to December and takes in the best of Siena province – from the Monte Amiata countryside to Chiusi, Siena and the Val d’Orcia. The journey offers a taste of the Tuscan lifestyle, and is often linked to a local festival or food fair, from spring wine fairs to autumn mushroom festivals. Also see the Nature Train guide in Val d’Orcia.
    Tel: +39 0577 281834/48003
    Web: http://www.terresiena.it/it/trenonatura/calendario

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