In Italy, in the southern part of Tuscany, lies the charming medieval town of Montepulciano. Its population is just approximately 14.5 thousand people.
Legend has it that the city was founded in the 4th century BC. e. by the Etruscan king Porsenna. It is difficult to say whether this is true or not, but the city is really ancient. After the Etruscans, the Romans came and turned the city into a military camp. Later, up to the Middle Ages, all of Tuscany was ruled by the Lombards.
In the XII century, the city began to revive and entered the sphere of influence of the Siena Republic. It became a controversial point between Florence and Siena. A continuous struggle was waged for power over these lands. Finally, the city came under the auspices of Florence.
The flourishing of the city started in the 15th century. It was the center of commercial life. In 1467, one of the first banks in the world was established here. Already then the high quality red wine from Montepulciano was known. It was even sold abroad!
Renowned architects have worked hard to erect impressive buildings and beautiful churches in the city.
At the highest point of the city, in its center, is the Piazza Grande. There is an imposing tower on it, from the top of which there is a magnificent view of Lake Trasimeno and the Gothic façade of the town hall.
On the south side of Piazza Grande is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, erected in 1619. Inside you can see a unique altar from 1401, painted on wood and decorated with gold.
There is also a well of griffins and lions in the square with a magnificent lintel, on which the symbol of the Medici family (six balls and a lily) is depicted between two lions.
At the end of the 16th century, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was erected. It houses a traditional terracotta altar.
The Church of the Madonna di San Biagio, also erected in the 16th century, is visible from afar. It is considered one of the most important architectural masterpieces of the Renaissance.
There is also a church of Sant’Agostino in the city, a feature of which is a white stone facade. Above the main entrance, you can see the Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist.
Across the street from this church is the Tower of Pulcinella, a famous character in the Italian comedy of masks. This medieval clock tower is crowned with the figure of Pulcinella. The clock strikes the time regularly.
Montepulciano has long been famous for its wine which was mentioned in the documents of traders as far back as the XIV century. The name “Nobile” (noble) appeared in the 17th century, but it was officially approved only in the 20th century. It is also worth trying the local cheese and spaghetti, which are also produced here.
If you come to the city on the last Sunday in August, you can see a festival of medieval origin. Its essence lies in the fact that you need to run uphill and push in front of you an 80-kilogram barrel of wine. The length of the distance that passes through the city, is about 1800 meters. According to medieval tradition, the winner is rewarded with a garment depicting St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city of Montepulciano.
In the days leading up to the race, there is a Procession of Candles, a flag show and a Historical Procession featuring knights, ladies, standard bearers and musicians. The race itself starts around 7 pm.
Many tourists may be interested in thermal springs. Their sulfurous water is used to treat diseases of the respiratory system and skin.
And do not forget: in the historical center of the city any transport is prohibited, so you can only move on foot.
Fans of the Twilight saga can see many familiar places here. And not without reason: “Twilight. Saga. New moon” was filmed in 2009 exactly in Montepulciano.