Montepulciano is one of my favourite, favourite places. Ever.
It’s a beautiful medieval hilltop town in Tuscany, surrounded by vineyards and known for its red Nobile wine (but the Brunello wine produced in nearby Montalcino does it for me). We came across Montepulciano a few years ago, before I started this blog. It’s really nice to be able to talk about it on here, having visited it again last September on the third leg of our holiday after Cluj, Romania and Bologna, before ending up in Florence (I know, nearly a year ago! I have to get more punctual with my blogging).
Montepulciano is one of those places where the light is just majestic and the view is spectacular from every angle. Case in point:
Our first meal having returned to Montepulciano nearly five years later had to be at one of my favourite restaurants, Osteria del Borgo. It’s lovely and cosy inside, but the real draw is its terrace, where you can watch the sun set over the Tuscan hills.
It had mesmerised me with its truffle pasta the first time round, and it certainly didn’t disappoint the second time.
Our second day was primarily spent at the fabulous Avignonesi Fattoria Le Capezzine winery in the hills between Montepulciano and Cortona. We learnt a lot about their organic and biodynamic ways of farming, and had a tour around their wine cellars.
As that was obviously exhausting work, we just had to do a wine tasting and while away the afternoon with a delicious lunch overlooking their lovely vineyards.
It’s easy to while away a leisurely afternoon or two in Montepulciano as there are plenty of shops and restaurants, but we love using it as a base to visit many of the surrounding towns and villages, such as the quintessentially Tuscan town of Cortona. It was an important center of Etruscan civilization, as told through its Etruscan Academy Museum of Cortona (MAEC). It’s well worth the steep walk to the Santa Margherita Basilica at the top of the town to see the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
Another one of my favourite restaurants from the first time we visited Montepulciano is the Ristorante Degli Archi, so of course we had to return there! It’s very cute and quirky inside with lots of lampshades and old furniture, and delicious food. The owner and host Pier is a real hoot. He loves to speak to all of the guests and if you’re lucky, he will sing opera at your table. I mean, where else do you get that kind of service?!
For me, no trip to this part of Tuscany would be complete without visiting the neighbouring town of Montalcino, yet another scenic hilltop town and as I mentioned earlier, home to the delicious (albeit pricey) Brunello wine. We always stock up on our wine in Montalcino, and just enjoy walking around and taking everything in.
We found a new (to us) restaurant, Osticcio Ristorante Enoteca, where I had the most delicious creamy, paprika-y pasta dish. We happily munched away and sipped our wine, watching contentedly as an unexpected thunder storm rolled its way across the town.
Back in Montepulciano we also discovered the beautiful San Biagio Church and the neighbouring restaurant, La Grotta, family-owned with a creative flair to its yummy food.
And finally, we visited Perugia, a hilly medieval university town and the capital of Umbria.
And what better way to round off a trip than with a bowl of glorious spaghetti vongole?
Next stop, Florence!