Today your driver will pick you up directly at your accommodation and bring you through the lovely “Crete Senesi” on your way to Montepulciano.Situated in one of the most breathtaking areas of Tuscany, this interesting wine town is built entirely on volcanic rock and stands about 600 meters above sea level. Like many towns in Tuscany, Montepulciano has Etruscan origins, but the first document mentioning its name comes from the year 715 and calls Montepulciano “Mons Politianus”, that is “Mount of the Nobles”. It seems probable that the town was therefore founded by a group of nobles perhaps from Chiusi who came here to escape invasions from Barbarians. Montepulciano is surrounded by walls and fortifications designed by Antonio da Sangallo in 1500 by orders of Cosimo I.Today Montepulciano is known for its very impressive Renaissance buildings, its beautiful churches and especially for its “Vino Nobile” (noble wine), one of the most distinguished of Italian wines in the world. The town developed on a steep hill between Porta al Prato and Piazza Grande and is crisscrossed by many short and narrow streets and alleys. There is plenty of sightseeing here and the cathedral is well worth a visit.The cathedral or “Duomo” was built between 1592 and 1630 and designed by Ippolito Scalza on the site of the older “Pieve di Santa Maria” . The façade and also a portion of the bell tower from the older church, is still unfinished. Inside, you can see works by Michelozzo, Andrea della Robbia, Benedetta da Maiano, and Andrea del Sarto. Other buildings of interest are the Palazzo Comunale, the temple of the Madonna of San Biagio, and the church dedicated to Saint Augustine. Angelo Ambrogini was born in Montepulciano. He was commonly called the “Poliziano”, which is the name given to the inhabitants of Montepulciano.This Humanist poet of the Renaissance went to Florence when he was only 14 years old and worked at the court of the Medici family. After visiting the sights of Montepulciano, your driver will give you some recommendations for some great places to eat here. Try one of the local specialties accompanied by a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!Only a short car ride away, our next stop is the town of Pienza.This charming Tuscan town is recognized by the organization of UNESCO as having a world famous cultural and natural patrimony. The history of Pienza is tied to that of Pope Pio II born in Pienza the 18th of October 1405 with the name of Enea Silvio Piccolomini. He was a great Humanist and wanted to transform the town of his birth from a small medieval hamlet into a Renaissance style papal residence. Pienza was then called Corsignano after the ancient castle here since 828. The original project was designed by Bernardo Gambarelli, more famously know as “Rossellino”, who was a student of Leon Battista Alberti. The construction lasted for a little over three years and were consecrated by Pio II for the feast day of San Giovanni Battista on August 29, 1462 and finally given the name “Pienza”. Many of the palaces that you see today in Pienza are from this period. Neither Pio II or Rossellino were able to enjoy their work for long. By a very strange destiny, both died within two months of each other in 1464. There is a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside from the top of its hilltop location. From here you can admire an unforgettable view of the Val D’Orcia. The town’s main square is named after Pio II and is the center of the town. This trapezoid shaped piazza can be seen in the film “Romeo and Juliet” by Franco Zeffirelli. In Piazza Pio II you will see the Duomo, Piccolomini Palace and the church dedicated to Saint Francis. The streets in Pienza have curious names such as “Via dell’Amore, del Bacio, della Fortuna”, Street of Love, of the Kiss, of Luck. You will enjoy shopping here. The streets are lined with all kinds of shops selling local crafts and regional specialties such as the delicious “pecorino di Pienza” and wines, and many shops are willing to give out some samples of their fare to taste.Soon, arms laden with your purchases, your driver will accompany you back to your car for the ride home. The landscape you enjoy during your drive will remain with you for the rest of your lives – the peaceful, green hills, clay fields, vineyards, and pastureland – all which is Tuscany. If there is enough time, your driver will stop for a short break in Siena just so you can admire the most important sights like the cathedral and the incredible Piazza del Campo of the famous “Palio” horse race.
Article by Prestigerent