Montepulciano is a beautiful town in the hills of Tuscany and a marvelous noble wine.
High on the hill overlooking the green and fertile valley, a medieval castle dominates the horizon. The massive city walls explode out of the mountain and lead to the antique castle with its tower. Outside the city walls the church Sant'Agnese is the primary structure leading to the gothic arched door to the city, porta di Gracciano built in the 1300s and restructured in the 1500s, from this point on to through the entire city center there are only buildings from the 1300-1500 period.
The streets and alleys are the home of numerous artisans, restaurants and small food stores; bread, milk, cheese, fruit, vegetables and meat shops exhibit their products, all fresh and inviting. Souvenir and gift shops have local products. Easily one becomes distracted while traveling these avenues from an era long lost.
The surrounding hillside and valleys are cultivated with Olive groves and Vineyards. This is the land of the super Tuscany wines and even the table wines are an experience not easily forgotten. The wines that carry the name of this area are “Nobile di Montepulciano” and “Rosso di Montepulciano”. Great with the meats, game, fowl and the hearty pasta dishes native to Montepulciano.
Nobile di Montepulciano is made with “Prugnolo gentile” a variety of San Giovese. This wine is granite red and dry perfect with the Cacio Pecorino, a cheese brought by the immigrants from Sardegna still produced with the same methods from the renaissance period. Complimentary to the local foods, the Pansanto (bread covered with cauliflower, olive oil and vinegar), la bruschetta (grilled bread with olive oil and garlic), la panzanella (stale bread with tomato, olive oil, onions, and basil), and a plate of “fagioli al fiasco” (cooked white beans with olive oil) but it is necessary that you try “Pici” a handmade pasta covered with a savory meat sauce.
There are various ways to lodge in Montepulciano, hotels, private homes and agriturismo. The agriturismo is a farm with a pensione in the complex where 55% of the products served in the restaurant must be produced on the farm itself. If you intend to stay just 1 night the best choice is a hotel but if the schedule includes a couple of days to visit the local vineyards then an agriturismo is definitely the path to follow. The owner will be able to indicate which vineyards he likes and will know the owner and most likely make a call ahead of time. The food at an agriturismo will not be as elaborate as some of the local restaurants but it will be genuine and fresh easily making this an unforgettable experience.
Montepulciano is also famous for its thermal spring spas. This is not the spa you find in the center of Dallas or New York. These are actual hot springs. The treatments range from nose and throat and lung therapies to skin care and physical therapy. The therapies also include yoga in the pool, anti-gravity massages, chocolate wraps and olive oil massages. Be pampered with genuine food, great wine, clean air, and a spa treatment.
Daily trips to the local vineyards is a must and in late February the presentation of the annual production. This will not be Nobile di Montepulciano that is widely known but is fantastic as a Novello or new wine. Several days can easily pass in the cellars of Villa S.Anna, Gattavecchi, Buracchi and Avignonesi. The days will pass and it will be time to return home before you know it.
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