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JmVikmanis Jun 16th, 2003 03:45 PM

Montepulciano or Montalcino
We've been to both and I can't decide which I prefer. We are going again this September with friends and may only be able to do one of the two. Which would you suggest we "sacrifice" and why? Thanks so much for your help with this potentially difficult decision.

Marilyn Jun 16th, 2003 04:07 PM

Answer the following question and your decision will be easy:

Would you rather drink and/or buy some of the best red wine in the world, or would you rather look at architecture and churches?

Actually, since you've been to both, maybe your friends should answer the question.:-)

raerose Jun 16th, 2003 04:12 PM

Which town is better for drinking and buying and which is better for architecture and churches

i_am_kane Jun 16th, 2003 04:17 PM

I second Raerose's question.

Marilyn Jun 16th, 2003 04:26 PM

Montalcino is where the Brunellos are grown, considered by many to be the best red wine in Italy. There is a lovely old fortress with access to the battlements, but the base of the fortress has been turned into a wine bar -- absolutely brilliant!

It's a small town, and other than wandering around and visiting some wineries if you can, there's not that much else there. Personally I would combine a visit there with another nearby town like Pienza, also small and do-able in a few hours. I would suggest a stroll, lunch, and some gourmet food shopping (or just looking) in Pienza and wine-tasting at the fortezza, dinner, and a gelato and stroll through the piazza in Montalcino.

Montepulciano is a larger town and has a number of churches, the one outside of the walls is the best known. Someone else might jump in here with its attractions -- I am no expert.

Didn't mean to be esoteric, raerose, but I assumed that since JmVikmanis had been to both towns before, s/he would get my point.

maitaitom Jun 16th, 2003 04:27 PM

I went to the castle in Montalcino where you can purchase some dynamite (priced accordingly) Brunellos in the downstairs tasting area. Of course, we went to a wine cave in Montpulciano and bought wine there, as well. I'm guessing that they are talking about Montalcino to drink and Montepulciano to look at churches. My suggestion would be to stay in Montalcino and buy some Brunello, drive to Pienza and pick up some pecorino, then drive to Montepulciano and have a picnic before you take a look at the churches. Remember, "Life is better with pecorino and wine."

bobthenavigator Jun 16th, 2003 05:03 PM

Which of your kids do you like best?
It is that kind of choice for me. We are going back in Oct. but will have tons of time to do both--again. The reason I would opt for Montalcino is to include both of the abbeys the same day.
Mt Oliveto Maggiore is:30 north and St. Antimo is :15 south--with lunch at Grappolo Blu in the middle--hard to beat

JmVikmanis Jun 17th, 2003 06:13 AM

Great guidance everyone. I should have figured it out myself. Our friends are big time wine buffs, so the Montalcino decision is almost a no brainer. As I think about it, I also recognize that I prefer the charm of the smaller town as well, just on its own merits. But the wine is certainly a big draw. Thanks.

JmVikmanis Jun 17th, 2003 06:15 AM

Bob, is Grappolo Blu in Montalcino or outside it? Sounds like a good plan on the monasteries.

Eli Jun 17th, 2003 06:41 AM

But then Montepulciano has "Vino Nobile", don't they? Made particularly for folks who want to both look at architecture AND drink...

bobthenavigator Jun 17th, 2003 07:32 AM

It is in town but hard to find--ask a local. The fancier and more expensive place just outside of town is Boccon di Vino--a divine fixed menu for lunch.

zootsi Jun 17th, 2003 09:12 AM

We spent a night in Montepulciano, and an afternoon in Montalcino. They are both very beautiful hill towns, you would love either one. As for the differences - Montepulciano is bigger, and has more shops, restaurants, architecture, etc. It's also one of the highest hill towns, so the views are spectacular. Montalcino also had some spectacular views, but seemed a bit more 'stuffy', catering to the high end wine buyers. Both towns had lots of wine shops, but the ones in Montepulciano seemed to be friendlier. I know it's hard to form a good opinion in just one afternoon, but that was our take. Just fyi, Montepulciano was our favorite hill town in Tuscany.

Dick Jun 17th, 2003 09:39 AM


I just loved reading your message.

My wife and I rented a small apartment in Montepulciano....we will be there the end of next week!

Any other tips for the area??

Henry Jun 17th, 2003 03:46 PM

JmVikmanis to get to Grappolo Blu stand in Piazza del Popolo facing north (the tower with the clock is behind you) walk about 100 meters up via Mazzini and on the right in an alleyway will be a sign Grappolo Blu. The alleyway is really just stairs going down, the first landing is the taverna.

JmVikmanis Jun 17th, 2003 04:46 PM

Gotta love this site. Can't get more specific direction to a place than this. Thanks all for helpful information. Hope others are enjoying it too.

alohatoall Jun 28th, 2003 12:36 PM

Dick, will you please share your experiences about your week in Montepulciano when you get back. Thanks in advance.

Bernard1 Jul 13th, 2003 02:57 PM


Do you have any recommendations for accomodations in Montepulciano? Do you know anything about Villa Novella?

Brian_in_Atlanta Jul 13th, 2003 03:37 PM

Had a great stay with our family at Il Riccio last October. It's small (only 5-6 rooms), family-run, and right in the center of Montepulciano. Get one of the rooms with a great view of the country-side. Very friendly, but not much English spoken. Wonderful little rooftop patio. Highly recommend this place, especially for the price.

Dick Jul 14th, 2003 05:41 AM

Our apartment in Montepulciano worked out great! It was located on a street just below ANTICO CAFF POLIZIANO. From our one bedroom a/c apartment we had a view of the countryside. A short, steep alley took us right up to the main street in town.

We used Montepulciano as a base to explore Pienza, Monatalcino, Sienna, San G, Chianto towns, and Orvieto, Cortona and Perugia in Umbria.

MArket day in Montelpuciano was really something to see. Entire stores(packed into trailers) came to the bus station parking lot. Fish marketss, produce, meat markets( which were selling flame cooked rotisserie chickens) were all there along with clothing and plenty of shoes.

The town itself is really a throwback to an earlier, slower pace. We visited a workshop where handmade copper cookware and pots were mad by a third generation craftsman in a workshop that looked hundreds of years old. The copper is sold in a shop in town by the man's daughter. Incredible cookware.

We witnessed a funeral and wedding intown. In both cases people walked through the streets carrying large floral arrangements. It looked like something out of the Godfather.

jmv Jul 14th, 2003 05:57 AM

Dick, do you recall which day is market day in Montepulciano? Thanks.

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