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Eating & Drinking

  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a Sangiovese-based wine, represents the heights to which Tuscan reds can aspire. Instead, full-bodied Vino Rosso di Montepulciano goes well with “peasant” snacks that have become healthy fast food for non-peasants. Ever-present are crunchy bruschetta and crostini, coated with fresh tomato and garlic or slathered in olive-oil or liver-based spreads. Also look out for Pecorino cheese flan or panzanella, a typical bread salad with herbs, as well as pici al ragu, homemade local pasta in a beef sauce. Most decent bars will be able to sort you cantucci with Vin Santo, the typical biscuits and dessert wine combination. Also see Eating and Dining in Pienza and Montalcino and their satelite villages.

  • La Grotta

    This memorable but pricey place is where locals go for a special occasion. The palazzo was once the home of architect Sangallo, and is right next to his stunningly positioned church of San Biagio. Set in vaulted dining rooms, the mood is romantic but rustic-elegant, with servings of creative Tuscan cuisine underpinned by French influences. Try the artichoke tart, the rack of lamb or the wild boar braised in plum sauce on a bed of spinach (brasato di cinghiale alle prugne sul letto di spinaci).
    Address: Località San Biagio 15, 53045 Montepulciano. 
    Tel: +39 0578 757479
    Web: www.lagrottamontepulciano.it

  • L’Osteria del Conte

    This friendly, confident, central spot is known for its hearty, Tuscan home-cooking, with portions as generous as the staff themselves. Unusually, there is also a fish-based menu and one just for cured meats and Tuscan canapes, all at middle-of-the-range prices. Highlights are the beef carpaccio, the raviolini stuffed with pecorino cheese, and the pasta in garlic-flavoured tomato sauce (pici all’aglione).
    Address: Via di San Donato 19, 53045 Montepulciano
    Tel: +39 0578 756062
    Web: www.osteriadelconte.it

  • L’Osteria dell’Acquacheta

    Set just off the main square, this ever-popular, rough-and-ready inn serves simple but tasty dishes such as huge steaks or pici (the chunky local pasta) with wild boar sauce (ragù di cinghiale) or tagliatelle with truffles. Wine is sloshed into glass tumblers and your bill might be scribbled on the tablecloth. It's great value and fun so worth sharing a table with others. Book the second sitting for dinner if you want a more leisurely meal.
    Address: Via del Teatro 22, 53045 Montepulciano
    Tel: +39 0578 717086
    Web: www.acquacheta.eu

  • Caffè Poliziano

    This lovingly restored Art Nouveau café–restaurant is set in the historic heart of Montepulciano. Fellini was a fan and likened it to a great Mitteleuropean café that wouldn’t be out of place in Vienna. It remains a landmark so is often full but it’s worth trying to get a table, even if it’s just for a coffee and cake. The reasonably-priced light lunches are perfectly acceptable, ranging from crostini and cold cuts or salads and spicy chicken. Take in the views over Valdichiana from the panoramic balcony, ideally with a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to hand.
    Address: Via di Voltaia nel Corso, 27, 53045 Montepulciano
    Tel: +39 0578 758615
    Web: www.caffepoliziano.it

  • La Solita Zuppa

    This welcoming, rustic, mid-priced inn is set in the heart of Chiusi and looks like a classic Tuscan osteria, with exposed bricks and beams. Reflecting the restaurant’s name, vegetable soups are definitely on the menu, from ribollita to onion soup, as are pasta dishes with beef sauce or garlic and tomato sauce. Main courses may be centred on wild boar or lamb, with an excellent selection of cheeses to follow.
    Address: Via Porsenna 21, 53043 Chiusi
    Tel: +39 0578 21006
    Web: www.lasolitazuppa.it

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