Montalcino, the major town in our Comune, is just 20 minutes drive from Montisi. It is rich in history and situated high on a hill overlooking several beautiful valleys, crowned with a splendid fortress built in 1361.
Whilst most of the history of Montalcino is peaceful, the town become involved in several disputes between warring factions in Tuscany. Indeed, in 1555 Montalcino became the last refuge of Sienese people in the face of aggression from the Florentine Republic. It held out for over four years against sustained attacks. This loyalty is still acknowledged in the famous parade that precedes the Palio in Siena.
Aside from the fortress, Montalcino has many beautiful buildings and churches celebrating architecture from the Romanesque to the Neoclassical.
Perhaps most beautiful of all the churches is the Abbey at Sant’Antimo, a few kilometres from the centre of town. Here untouched by the passage of time, it is still home to a handful of Benedictine monks. You can attend services in this simple but stunning church and listen to the ancient Gregorian chants.
Like Montisi, Montalcino is also divided in four main contrade or neighbourhoods with their own traditions and histories. They meet twice a year in August and October in a thrilling archery contest held under the walls of the great fortress. Keep an eye on our Events for more details
The Brunello Wine
Montalcino now is most recognised for the superb red wine produced in the area called ‘ Brunello ‘. Famous throughout the world, it is acknowledged as one of Italy’s finest wines. It was invented in 1888 by Ferruccio Biondi Santi, who had the idea of leaving out the grapes used in the traditional Chianti recipe, such as Canaiolo and Colorino, and using only the Sangiovese variety.
Very strict rules apply to the production of the Brunello. For example, before it is ready to sell, it must age for a minimum of 5 years, 2 of which must take place in oak barrels.
There are many renowned wine producers around the area and a visit to a winery is a must.
See What to do for further recommendations.