There’s a teeny-tiny slice of Tuscany that’s probably been poured into your wine glass before –– Montepulciano.
Besides the fact that Montepulciano is a fab wine, this cute village perched atop a limestone ridge is *also* basically Tuscan perfection.
Sepia-soaked medieval buildings that don’t seem to have changed a bit.
Green gorgeous hills sweeping across the horizon.
Cypress trees dotting the landscape perfectly, like a painting playing on the brain.
(Or was it just that extra glass of Montepulciano?)
Montepulciano just wines and dines your senses in a whole different way.
Here’s a couple of reasons why we adore this Tuscan town:
- Montepulciano is easy-peasy to explore on foot. Since it’s so small, you can weave in and out of the city and explore it the way it’s always been –– minus the bustling cars of today. The historical center is just for pedestrians, so it’s all yours! Know that there are some surprisingly steep parts, though (but that’s what makes it fun). P.S. If you want to drive in Montepulciano, you can park outside the walls.
- Montepulciano makes for the perfect afternoon trip to eat and drink. Besides the wine (we’ll get to that in a sec), it’s also known for other Tuscan treats –– pork, cheese, honey and pici, a thick hand-rolled pasta (think fat spaghetti that you never want to stop eating). This is why walking everywhere on foot can be a great idea 😉
- Montepulciano’s thermal springs are ah-mazing. Picture it: you’re in the countryside, surrounded by historic forests, soaking it all up in thermal springs. C’mon! Does it get any better than that? The Montepulciano Thermal Baths were founded in 1966, and those sulphurous waters have been helping people relax and renew ever since. You can also go down the road another 10 minutes and go to Chianciano Terme — which are next level.
- Montepulcian’s piazzas, palazzos, and castles. They’re steeped in history –– from alliances with Florence and Siena to ancient clock towers and views to take in from them all, it’s had its fair share of drama in Tuscan politics that’s fascinating to learn about.
- Montepulciano is a wine pour away from Florence. Check out our tours in Florence if you’re visiting Tuscany, and consider adding on a day or two to your trip to swing by Montepulciano.
Montepulciano’s surrounding towns of Montalcino and Pienza have just as much to offer, but it helps to know how to get around, think about what to call your home base and what to keep on your radar.
How far is Montalcino from Montepulciano?
Largely renowned for its Brunello wine, Montalcino is another dreamy hilltop town to the west of Montepulciano and is smack dab in the middle of the gorgeous Val D’Orcia.
If you’re thinking about visiting Montalcino from Montepulciano, here’s how to make the trip:
- By car: It’s about a 45-minute drive, mostly on a single road. The views = incredible.
- By bus: You can take the 114 or 112 bus from Montepulciano –– it costs €6 – €9, and will take about two hours.
- By taxi: If you prefer to take a taxi, expect it to cost about €90 – €110 for the 45-minute journey.
What is Brunello di Montalcino?
Let’s go back to that Brunello wine for a second –– because wine critics often point to this wine as the best in Italy! It’s that good.
So, what’s the big deal?
Let’s start with the vine –– Brunello di Montalcino is made with a Tuscan type of the Sangiovese vine, called Brunello.
Brunello is known for producing wine with an incredibly bold and fruity flavor, high tannin (that’s what makes wine taste “dry”) and high acidity.
Super high amounts of tannins and acidity are important because that’s what typically extends the lifespan of a wine.
That means that Brunello di Montalcino wines actually reach total perfection a decade or more after they’ve been bottled.
Brunello di Montalcino wines are also DOCG certified, meaning they have a controlled and guaranteed destination of origin –– the EU’s trademark on food whose unique features totally depend on the environment where they’re produced. Wines that have a DOCG label are known for being incredibly reputable and are likely a good pick.
P.S. Want to get a taste of more fab food, wine and sweet sights in Tuscany? Check out our tours in Florence!
How far is Pienza from Montepulciano?
Known as the perfect Renaissance town, Pienza is squeezed between Montepulciano and Montalcino. Ridiculously romantic (scenes from Romeo and Juliet were filmed here) and obsessed with cheese and wine in equal parts (you’ve gotta try pici con cacio e pepe and see their Festival of Cheese at some point), it’s the perfect middle ground if you want to explore both towns on your trip.
From Montepulciano, here’s how to get to Pienza:
- By car: A quick 15-minute drive up through the hills!
- By bus: You can take the 112 line from Montepulciano –– it costs €2 – €3, and it’ll take about 15 minutes.
- By taxi: Expect to pay up to €30 – €40 taxi for a 15-minute taxi ride.
Florence to Montepulciano
After you’ve wrapped up tours in Florence during your stay, Montepulciano is a great day trip from Florence or makes for a nice stopover for a few nights if you’re traveling through Tuscany.
To get to Montepulciano from Florence:
There’s a couple of ways –– while car or bus is the most straightforward option, here are a couple of suggestions broken down by speed.
- By car: A gorgeous 75-minute drive awaits.
- If you only want to take the bus: Take the bus from Florence – Piazzale Montelungo to Chianciano – Piazza Indipendenza (about 2 hours). Transfer to any bus going to the P.Ta Delle Farine Opp. stop (there’s tons –– it takes about 28 minutes), and boom –– you’re in Montepulciano. The journey will cost you about €14 – €20.
- By bus and train: Take the train to Chiusi-Chianciano Terme from Firenze Santa Maria Novella (this takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and leaves the station hourly). At the Chiusi-Chianciano Terme stop, transfer to the Chiusi Stazione-P.Zza Dante bus and get off at P.Ta Delle Farine Opp (it should take about 48 minutes). The cost of this trip varies, depending on which train you choose. In total, it should take you about 3 hours to get to Montepulciano from Florence if you’re limited to using the train and bus.
How we can help you go to Montepulciano
- Check out Gigi Guides, our digital guidebook. It’s chock-full of insider recommendations for nearby Florence, as well as the Cinque Terre, Venice and Rome.
- Want to explore nearby Florence or Cinque Terre? Take a look at our tours in Florence and tours in Italy, so we can hang out with you during your trip (and offer expert suggestions for how to make the most of it).
- Ask us a question in the comments below and we’ll help you out!
Feel free to borrow our ideas for Montepulciano, share it with your friends, or print it out.
Want more insider intel on traveling Tuscany? Here you go:
- Gigi Guides: City Guides for Cinque Terre, Venice, Florence and Rome
- Gigi Guides: Florence
- Italian Fix Tours in Florence
- Italian Fix Tours in Italy
Here are more blog posts too:
- What We Dig: The Siena, Italy Guide
- What To Do In Florence
- The Top 10 Spots in Northern Italy (And Why You Should Go)
- Which Town in Tuscany Should I Visit?
- Things To Do In Florence
- The Only 2 Tuscany Itineraries You Need
Got questions about what to do and see in and around Montepulciano?
Share with us in the comments below!
Hi Bianca. I spent 2 weeks there in October 2017. Took Italian classes at Il Sasso, perhaps the best Italian Language school in Italy. Montepulciano is a spectacular town. Definitely worth a visit.
Wow Lynda! That sounds like quite the experience. What a magical town to spend your time in, learning a new language!
I was surprised that you did not recommend having a steak dinner at Osteria dell’ Aquacheta. May very well be the best steak I’ve ever had. Quite an experience as the proprietor brings out the cuts of meat to show you before placing on the fire.
Wow Marshall! That is quite a recommendation indeed. Thanks so much for sharing!
Really amazing article. The photos that you shared are truly worth watching. And the information is also helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your memories.
We’re so glad you found the information helpful and the photos inspiring! Thanks for taking the time to share with us 🙂