This glass of Vino Nobile from the Gattavecchi Winery looks beautiful, tastes beautiful and pairs well with the scenery and any dish cooked up by Chef Lilian.
This is a BREATH-TAKING three-minute piece featuring all overhead drone footage of the city and countryside. Don't leave this page without watching this video. "Essenza di Toscana" translates to "essence of Toscana/Tuscany"...indeed it is.
This four-minute video captures much of the city center and includes captions of historical buildings and monuments throughout Montepulciano.
This four-minute video features more beautiful drone footage and is set to the lovely song, O Mio Babbino Caro from the opera, Gianni Schicchi.
World-renowned traveler Rick Steves visits Montepulciano in this brief four-minute video, showing you wine cellars, flag ceremonies, churches and delicious local cuisine.
This video on YouTube by Still Wanderer is an hour-long walk inside the city walls of Montepulciano. It is narrator-free, allowing you to transport yourself there and simply enjoy the sights and sounds.
If you’re just now starting to get into Italian wine, then Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano is a great place to start. This seven-minute video from InToVino.com features the proud wine of Montepulciano and gives you everything you need to know about its backstory, its beauty and how best to enjoy it.
Chances are, you've never heard of the city of Montepulciano in Italy. We’re here to fix that. What do you love about your vacation? The food, the wine, the scenery, the experience, learning about new culture, the friendly local people, leaving your worries and emails behind. Montepulciano can check all those boxes. Simply put, it's the best place on earth. Our hope is that this website opens your eyes and your mind to what is an incredibly beautiful and welcoming place in the heart of Tuscan wine country. Not nearly enough Americans know about Montepulciano, but if you're reading this....that's a great start! We hope you enjoy the pictures, historical facts and some of the silly stories that are sure to inspire YOU to travel to Montepulciano, Italy!
- Do They Speak English? You may be surprised to hear that around 30% of Italians speak English. Consider that it's even a higher percentage at important touristy places like the airport, car rental companies, restaurants and shops. Tourism is vital to Italy and many tourists come from London and America, so English is essential for many businesses. With some courage and patience, you can manage just fine, even with no knowledge of the Italian language.
- How's the Covid-19 Situation There? You may remember that Italy as a country, was hit hard early in the pandemic. While Montepulciano itself did have to abide by all the restrictions during the height of the pandemic, the city as a whole remained incredibly safe during the pandemic. Bigger cities in Italy had and continue to have their issues, but Montepulciano felt safe during the pandemic, assuming you're a reasonable person and can wear a mask in public when not actively eating or drinking. It's not that hard...be responsible. We personally visited in July of 2021 and felt incredibly safe. Most everyone over there was vaccinated or had an appointment to be vaccinated. They understand the value of the vaccine and know that it will help to make them safe moving forward.
- How Do I Get There? Coming from America, the easiest way is to fly to Rome (FCO) and then rent a car at the airport in order to make the two-hour drive. They drive on the same side of the road and the steering wheel is on the same side too ;). If you aren’t into renting a car, there are some public transportation options, as you can take the train or even the bus. You can also fly into Florence (FLR) as the drive is just 90 minutes. However, flying into Rome from LAX vs flying into Florence is substantially cheaper even though it’s 30 minutes longer from Rome. Either way you go, both Rome and Florence give you the opportunity to see Italy’s most beautiful and historical cities. COVID-19 UPDATE as of August 2021: In June of 2021, Italy reopened to American tourists. While there's a lot of digital paperwork to fill out and keep in order, it can be done. Being vaccinated is a great first step to travel. Assuming you're vaccinated, you will not need to test in order to get in to Italy. In order to get back into America however, you will need to take a rapid test at whatever Italian airport you're traveling out of on the day of your return flight, REGARDLESS OF VACCINATION STATUS. Kids and unvaccinated adults will need to present a negative test to travel to and from.
- Where Do I Park Upon Arriving? This was one of the most confusing parts of Montepulciano until we TRULY figured it out! First and foremost, YOU CAN NOT park inside the city walls...they will ticket you. This is reserved for city residents with proper permits. You can't just tear it up either, as tickets will joyfully arrive in your US mailbox up to one year later. They WILL find you. Once you get comfortable with where you CAN park, then you'll be much better off. Here's where to park: Piazza Don Giovanni Minzoni, which is just a fancy name for a large parking lot just outside the city walls. They have paid parking here, BUT...there is also free parking (you just have to understand what's what). CLICK THIS LINK TO A GOOGLE MAPS VISUAL. After you see this page, you'll understand more clearly. Everything against the railing to the left of the yellow parking spaces that are marked "GF" is free. These free spaces are marked in WHITE and you can park as long as you want there (overnight for days at a time). The first car that is parked in the "FREE" spot is the gray, four-door Volkswagen in the white spot, just to the left of the yellow "GF" spots. There are only about 12 spots here that are free, but unless the city is packed with tourists, these spots tend to be available. If they are not available, "Plan B" is to continue to drive down the hill, which is the street, Via Portella della Ginestra. At the bottom of this hill, there are more white spaces. TAKE A LOOK AT THE PARKING HERE. NOW YOU'RE PARKED...Yes, it's a bit of a walk uphill to get into the city walls, but your car is safely parked and unless you've got two bad legs, you can do it. Dropping off the "complaining about walking" members of your party at the top of the hill, then parking, is recommended.
- What's the Exchange Rate? Italy is one of the 19 member states of the European Union to use the "euro", as their official currency. One euro is currently equal to about $1.21. Or if you prefer to think of it the other way, one US Dollar is equal to € 0.82 Euro. Rather than seeing a dollar sign ($) on a price tag or a menu in Italy, you'll typically see this sign ( € ), which is the sign for euro.
- Should I Carry Cash or Just a Credit Card? The less cash you have on your person, the better. Crime in Montepulciano is virtually non-existent, but in larger cities like Rome, you'll have to beware of pick-pocketers so less cash is good. All Montepulciano businesses take credit cards and the international fees that you pay on your credit cards are so minimal or non-existent that it's just better to use your good old fashioned Visa or Mastercard to pay for your dinner, your souvenirs and your wine. We recommend NOT getting money from your local American bank (fees are too expensive) and instead, just using your credit card, or getting cash out of an Italian ATM machine. There are multiple banks inside the city walls that have ATM machines if you need cash. The charge is different at each ATM machine, but after their small service fee, the other charge is typically controlled by your bank back in America. Our best experience has been with a bank near the main entrance called BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas. This bank does not charge a local service fee to pull money out of your American bank account. Our bank is Wells Fargo and they only charge $3 per transaction when you use the ATM at BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas. If you're concerned with how much money your ATM fees are going to be, then call your bank and find out what the charge is for taking money out of an international ATM.
- Should I Tip? This is a tough one to overcome, as we typically feel compelled to tip in the US at about 15-20%. Italians don't expect a tip, but if you have the means, I feel you should. Most all restaurants include a "service charge" or what is listed on the menu/bill as "coperto" which is basically a built-in service fee, but it's not necessarily a "tip". We personally round up on every bill, but don't typically get to that 15-20% threshold that's a standard in the US. No, they do not get mad if you don't tip extra. No, they don't get offended if you do tip them extra. Italians are just cool like that.
How Do I Get Around Once I'm There? Depending on where you're staying (inside or outside the city walls), there's really not much need for transportation once you get to Montepulciano. Sure, you'll need a vehicle if you're going outside of town to a restaurant, a winery or a truffle hunt, but everything inside the city walls is just walking distance. Consider that the two farthest points within the city walls are just 1.2 miles/1.8 km apart. So it's basically just over a mile from one end of town to the other.
Can I use Uber/Lyft/Cabs? This is an easy one....no Uber, no Lyft. Imagine 1990, when there was no such thing as ride shares. Also, while you can easily grab a cab in a big Italian city, there aren't exactly a plethora of taxis in Montepulciano, but they do exist. You have to call them though, as they're not just sitting around waiting for you like NYC.
Will They Have Wifi and Cell Service? Yes, your digital life can go on if you so choose. Nearly every restaurant/cafe/coffee shop will have their wifi password posted on their menu so you can lurk around town and use everyone's wifi if you like. Most cell phone carriers only charge $10 per day to keep your phone running like it normally would be in the US, meaning for 10 bucks per day, you can surf the web, check your email and even make phone calls and facetime back to the US, just like you normally would without missing a beat and incurring extra fees. This also comes in handy if you need to hotspot your phone so your laptop can connect to the web.
What's the Deal with Time/Temperature? Italy is nine hours ahead of the west coast (Pacific Time Zone) and six hours ahead of the east coast (Eastern Time Zone) So if it's 12 noon in Los Angeles, it's 9pm in Montepulciano. If it's 12 noon in Montepulciano, it's 3am in Los Angeles. Temperature in Italy is recorded in Celsius, rather than Fahrenheit. The formula (if you care) to convert the Italian Celsius temperature to a more familar American Fahrenheit temperature is to multiply the Italian (Celsius) temp by 1.8 and then add 32. We dare you to memorize this. As an example, 70 degrees in the US is 21 degrees in Italy. A freezing temperature of 32 degrees in the US would register at 0 degrees in Italy. Got it?
Is It Expensive? While staying in Italy seems like an extravagant lifestyle choice, it's truly soo affordable and borderline cheap in Montepulciano. If you're on a budget, no problem. You can find Air B&B for between $50-100 and hotel rooms for between $75-150 per night easily depending on location. Restaurant meals are so reasonably priced, it'll shock you. There are plenty of plates that are $10-20 apiece. Good bottles of wine at the amazing wineries throughout town can be found between $10-20 as well, as you're not paying that international mark-up. Sure you can spend hundreds of dollars per meal by eating and drinking the finest they have, but you don't have to.
How "Americanized" is Montepulciano? It's not Americanized at all. When you're here, you definitely feel like you're in an old Italian town. There is no Starbucks, no McDonald's, no Target, no Chevron Gas Station, no Apple Store and no mall.
What's the Deal with "Inside or Outside the City Walls"? It's a phrase that we had never heard until Montepulciano. Inside the city walls vs outside the city walls. Most all the action goes on inside the city walls. You can stay inside and never leave until it's time to go. But in fairness, there's lots to do outside the city walls too...wineries, restaurants, truffle hunting excursions, cheese shops, scenery and architecture. What should you do? Our recommendation is to start inside and work your way outside if you have time. Many small Italian cities in Tuscany have walls just like Montepulciano, so you'll see it quite a bit around the region.
Where Do I Eat? Our favorite places can be found in the pictures above, but here's a quick recap: Gattavecchi Cantina, Ristorante degli Archi, Linda's Pizza, Caffe Poliziano and La Vineria are all located inside the city walls or just one block away in the case of Linda's Pizza. There are a couple of top-notch places outside the city walls as well, including Fattoria Pulcino (about a five minute drive) and Super Pizzeria/Ristorante Pizzeria Tre Stelle and La Locanda del Vino Nobile which are both just a 10-minute drive from town, but totally worth it.
What Entertainment Options Are There? In addition to Italian architecture, history, culture, food and wine, there's other things to do as well. Specifically, there's shopping, art galleries, museums, churches, markets and theatre performances. In neighboring Chianchano (15-minute drive), there are more attractions like a beautiful day spa and an adventure park for kids and adults which includes obstacle courses and zip-lining.
Will I Find American Sports to Watch? This may seem like a ridiculous question, but American sports are more important to some people than others. If you're trying to watch your favorite NFL team in Italy and think you're going to find them at the local sportsbar on Monday Night Football, think again. There is virtually no television coverage of ANY American sport in Italy...not a bar, not in your hotel, and most likely not even on your phone, as NFL Sunday Ticket and other similar services are blocked when you're no longer on American soil. You won't even be able to listen to your team on Sirius/XM on your phone as it's blocked in Europe. The solution: set your DVR to record the game for when you return home or purchase a Slingbox, so you can control your home-TV feed and watch the game live on your phone. If you know how a VPN works, then you can do that in order to "mask" your location on foreign soil.
How Safe Is It? We reference this a few times in the FAQ, but we're confident that Montepulciano will be the safest destination you ever choose for a vacation. Walking home late at night from a winery while the streets are quiet and empty is completely safe. Pick-pocketing is a real thing in the big cities (Florence, Venice, Rome), but there's just no crime to speak of in Montepulciano.
Where Do I Stay? Your options are unlimited here and it's all about your preference, but if you want the recommendation, here goes: Stay inside the City Walls at one of the following links. This could be at a hotel (Albergo Il Marzocco), at a Bed and Breakfast (L' Agnolo) or at any number of Air B&B locations in Montepulciano. Staying inside the city walls allows you to stay in the heart of the city without the need for transportation, keeping you just minutes from all the great restaurants, wineries, cafes, shops and cantinas. Wanna stay in the Italian countryside? Choose somewhere like Fonte Martino, an absolute gem located five minutes outside of town. Regardless of the location/hotel/house you choose, safety is never a factor, as Montepulciano will be the safest vacation destination you'll ever choose.
Are There Traditional Stores? No, not really. There's no Walmart or CVS or any name brand American stores. If you want "groceries", there are really just two options, both of which are located outside of the city walls. Conad is the name of the biggest, newest and nicest grocery store. They have most everything you'd find at a typical grocery store and is located at the bottom of the hill at the main entrance, just one minute outside the city walls. The other option is Eurospin, which is on the other end of town, again, outside the city walls. The Eurospin supermarket is a little smaller and has a bit less variety, but depending on where you're staying in town, could be the closer of the two options. Just next door to Eurospin is a health/beauty/pharmacy type store called Acqua and Sapone, which is a CVS/Riteaid type of store. Finally, if you're looking for something you can't buy at a grocery store, like electronics, cell phone accessories, linens or tools, then you need to go to Hong Kong. No, seriously, that's the name of the store. Hong Kong is located across the street from the Conad grocery store and has most everything that your Walmart back home would have, including cell phone accessories and plug adapter/converters. No groceries at Hong Kong, but they've got all the stuff described above. The family that runs it is nice, but speaks NO English and there's poor cell phone service in there, so don't rely on a translator app to communicate if you need to. It’s worth mentioning that there’s nowhere in the city to purchase a new cell phone, as you have to drive about 30-40 minutes outside of town to a store called "Trony" which is near Cortona.
Why are so many businesses closed in the afternoon? The answer is the Italian "siesta". Many local businesses close their doors at 1pm and reopen at 4pm to allow owners to go home and have lunch and/or take a nap. Many of the restaurants close around 2:30pm and 3pm and reopen later in the evening for dinner. Conad grocery store remains open all day and does not close for "siesta". It does close nightly at 8pm though, which seems inconvenient if you shop in the evening. Get it done early and you won't get burned.
How Far to the Lake or Beach? The closest lake is within 30 minutes and the closest beach is within two hours. Regardless of which beach you visit, they are all mostly beautiful with white sand and light blue water. There are also a number of natural hot springs within 30 minutes to an hour away. Most of the hot springs are free of charge, while a few are more like a spa with spa prices. If you've never been to a hot spring...it's not man-made. Hot-to-really-hot water coming out of the earth is quite amazing...take off your jewelry as the minerals in the natural water will tarnish your gold and silver.
Can I Bring or Ship Wine and Cheese Home? Yes! All wineries offer shipping to the US and some even ship for free! Standard rate on most airlines to check a bag is $50 and you can get a lot of cheese and wine in that suitcase for $50, but pack it carefully and mark it FRAGILE. Remember, you can't carry on a bottle(s) of wine on the airplane, as they'll take it from you at Security. Before you buy meats to bring home, be sure and ask about packing it in your bag. Sausage is a tempting bring-back for your friends, but security at the airport will most likely be dining on your snacks when you get home and realize they're gone.. Sadly, it's not allowed to transport meat.
Can I Buy a Place Here? YES! We did and you can too. Depending on what you want and where you want to be, you could spend between $50k to $1 million and beyond. You can find a place inside the city walls for less than $200k. You can find a place just outside town for $50k. Want to live in the middle of a vineyard or olive grove, you can for a couple hundred thousand. There are even massive old farm houses sitting on many acres of land that you can find for $100k, but they need nearly every renovation known to man. The point is, if you want to live here, or grow grapes for a living, or purchase a vacation home, it can be done for less money than you think.
How Far Is Rome? Montepulciano sits just less than two hours by car (110 miles/180 kilometers) from Rome. Flying into Rome is the best option if you're coming from America, as it's cheaper than flying into other cities like Florence or Venice. If you decide to travel from Rome to Montepulciano by train or bus, that's a great option too. It's not expensive ($15-$25 per person in US Dollars), takes between 1-4 hours (depending on method of transportation) and takes the hassle and stress out of navigating the Italian roads and signs...it CAN be done however, so renting a car is 100% our recommendation. In addition, there is SOO much to see in Rome (the Colosseum, the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Campo de Fiori), so going there is a must.
How Far Is Florence? Montepulciano sits about 90 minutes by car (68 miles/110 kilometers) from Florence. While we recommend flying into Rome in order to get to Montepulciano, Florence is an easy commute. It's not expensive ($18-$40 per person in US Dollars), takes between 2-4 hours (depending on method of transportation) and takes the hassle and stress out of navigating the Italian roads and signs...it CAN be done however, so renting a car is 100% our recommendation. Sites to see in Florence include the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallary and the Bardini Gardens.
How Far Is Venice? Montepulciano sits about four hours by car (223 miles/360 kilometers) from Venice. While we recommend flying into Rome in order to get to Montepulciano, Venice is also an option, but it's a much longer commute by car, train or bus. It's also a bit more expensive than the two other cities (Rome, Florence) ($35-$115 per person in US Dollars), takes between 6-8 hours (depending on method of transportation). If you're going to rent a car, keep in mind, it's a four hour drive. Sites to see in Venice include St. Mark's Basilica, St. Mark's Square, the Grand Canal (Canale Grande) and basically everywhere...it's Venice, after all.
Rather visit small cities like Montepulciano? The three large cities referenced above are fantastic, but it takes at least 90 minutes to get there. If you like the vibe of Montepulciano, there are several other "smaller" cities that are also much closer. Monticchiello is even smaller and less than 15 minutes away with stunning views. Pienza (home to a lot of cheese) is close too. We'd also recommend a 35-minute drive to Montalcino, the home of the beautiful wine, Brunello di Montalcino. Great town, great food, great wine. San Gimignano is a longer drive, but just less than 90 minutes away, and is our final recommendation. It's home to a beautiful white wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the town is just lovely.
All four of these cities are in Tuscany. La Toscana mi piaci ;)
Once you get there, you'll be in awe when you hear them say it with their beautiful accents. So you can practice until then. Five syllables...good luck.
House Hunters International has been to Montepulciano on 2 different occasions throughout the show's history. Enjoy "Decompress, Italian Style" on HGTV (Volume 6, Season 142, Episode 9) on the Discovery Plus App or purchase on YouTube for $2.99.
IMDB Summary: A hectic life in California leads a young family to Montepulciano, Italy, to decompress. They've been to Montepulciano several times, but with huge expectations and potential renovations in the mix, the dream may be further than...
House Hunters International has been to Montepulciano on 2 different occasions throughout the show's history. Enjoy "The Full Montepulciano" on HGTV (Volume 5, Season 120, Episode 19) on the Discovery Plus App or purchase on YouTube for $2.99.
IMDB Summary: A couple is moving to Montepulciano, Italy and using their savings to start a bed and breakfast. While the B&B is a dream for both of them, one wants to buy a turn-key property to get the process going as soon as possible, while the...
Watch the first half of Decompress, Italian Style, filmed on location in Montepulciano.
Watch the conclusion of Decompress, Italian Style, filmed on location in Montepulciano.