Tuscany is at its best in its small historic hilltowns.

Montepulciano is, without a doubt, one of the most enchanting towns in all of Tuscany, rich in history, art, and culture – a true jewel set in the Tuscan countryside.

The historical and artistic riches, along with extraordinary local culinary traditions and the lively, progressive cultural and social fabric make Montepulciano the ideal place to experience a synthesis of the cultural heritage of all of Tuscany.
The town is surrounded by the ancient walls of the Medici which continue to symbolically protect the city – indeed, it is only by passing through one of the seven old gates that one can begin to explore the historic center.

 

Historic churches of interest in Montepulciano

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, (Duomo)

The Cathedral of Montepulciano was built between 1586 and 1680, and was initially designed by the architect Ippolito Scalza of Orvieto, on the spot where the ancient local shrine to Saint Mary formerly stood, of which only the old travertine and brick bell tower from the 1400's can still be seen today. However, both the bell tower and the façade remain unfinished to this day, whereas the sides of the building were finely covered in brick and travertine ashlars forming rounded arches.
Inside, the space, which follows the design of the Latin cross, is ample and majestic, separated into three naves by massive marble pillars surmounted by arches, as well as both barrel and groin vaults.

Aside from the elegance of the building itself, the sacred interior is decorated with a large number of works of art, including some of the most important pieces in the entire cultural heritage of Montepulciano. The artworks include: the Aragazzi Cenotaph, created by Michelozzo in the 1400's, fragments of which can still be found throughout the Cathedral; as well as a Triptych of the Assumption by Taddeo di Bartolo from 1401, which towers over the central altar, and the so-called Altar of the Lilies (Altare dei Gigli), a multi-colored, glazed terracotta work by Andrea Della Robbia.

The Chiesa Del Gesu (Church of Jesus)

Construction of the Church was begun in 1691 in the baroque style, following the design of Giovan Battista Origoni (an architect born in Milan), but shortly after the consecration, the building's design underwent modifications in accordance with the new designs of the renowned architect, painter, and Jesuit essayist Andrea Pozzo, and Sebastiano Cipriani, from Siena. Pozzo's top student, Antonio Colli, painted the three trompe-l'oeil altars located in the side chapels, as well as the small cupola on canvas at the center of the vault. As for the four stucco statues completed in 1715, and located to either side of the painted altars in the side chapels, they have been attributed to Bartolomeo Mazzuoli, an artist from Siena who learned his craft at the Mazzuoli shop run by his father and uncle.

The Church of St. Agnese

The Church, attached to the convent of the same name, takes its name from the most venerated saint of Montepulciano, Agnese Segni (died 1317), thanks to whose efforts the entire Dominican complex was constructed. The foundation stone was laid, in fact, in 1306, when Agnese was sent to Montepulciano from Proceno, where she had served as Mother Superior at the convent for 22 years. The initial structure, of much smaller dimensions and with a different orientation than the current edifice, was dedicated, at Agnese's request, to Santa Maria Novella. The dimensions of the building only began to change during the first half of the 15th century, when the Dominican monks enlarged the church structure, lending it its current orientation. Between 1701 and 1702, meanwhile, the imposing stucco statue of St. Agnese – designed by Andrea Pozzo – was placed on the central altar.


The Church of San Biagio

The late renaissance structure was built on the site of the old local shrine to Saint Mary built in early Christian times, and later re-dedicated, in the year 1000, to Saint Biagio. At the start of the 16th century, only a few bits of the old shrine still existed, including a wall with a fresco of the Madonna with Child and St. Francesco, attributed to a 14th century painter from Siena, and which, in 1518, was credited with several miraculous episodes.

The citizens of Montepulciano decided to erect a new church, to be designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder. The latter created a plan for a stately building with a central design, and the ambitious project was awarded the support of Pope Leo X, who had himself studied under Agnolo Poliziano, a poet and man of letters from Montepulciano. Construction of the house of worship lasted until 1580 and, following the death of the original artist, the work was completed by several superintendents.

The interior of the church is laid out in accordance with the Greek cross, with a central dome supported by a drum. The side facing the entrance contains a semi-circular apse. The main façade, whose design scheme is repeated along the two lateral facades, is divided into two sections by a marked trabeation featuring a frieze with triglyphs and metopes that run around the entire perimeter of the house of worship. The lower section, meanwhile, contains the main door, on which is engraved the date the church was founded.
The upper section, in which there is a window, features an animated surface with five rectangular oculi, and is surmounted by a triangular pediment, an architectural element designed to emphasize the vertical thrust of the building. To the left there rises the impressive bell tower, which contains many decorative elements, and ends in a pyramidal cusp. The original design called for two symmetrical bell towers to be built, but only one was ever actually completed.

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PIAZZA GRANDE

The sun-filled Piazza Grande stands as the town’s most prominent landmark, as well as the fulcrum of civil and religious life, as it is ringed by municipal buildings and religious edifices, as well as stately noble palaces.

Indeed, in addition to the Cathedral, or Duomo of Montepulciano, and the Palazzo Comunale, or City Hall – whose monumental stone structure, battlements, and tower at the center of the edifice recall the Palazzo Vecchio (or della Signoria) in Florence – the following notable buildings rise around the Piazza: the Palazzo Del Monte-Contucci, built in the 1500's by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder; the Palazzo de' Nobili-Tarugi, entirely in travertine, with its ample arcade and uniquely decorated façade; and the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, one of the oldest Palazzi in Montepulciano, across from which is located the Pozzo dei Grifi e dei Leoni, whose name derives from the animals that figure in the trabeation, where the lions can be seen holding up the coat of arms of the Medici (symbolizing Florence), along with the griffons, who represent the city of Montepulciano.

PIAZZA GRANDE

The sun-filled Piazza Grande stands as the town’s most prominent landmark, as well as the fulcrum of civil and religious life, as it is ringed by municipal buildings and religious edifices, as well as stately noble palaces.

Indeed, in addition to the Cathedral, or Duomo of Montepulciano, and the Palazzo Comunale, or City Hall – whose monumental stone structure, battlements, and tower at the center of the edifice recall the Palazzo Vecchio (or della Signoria) in Florence – the following notable buildings rise around the Piazza: the Palazzo Del Monte-Contucci, built in the 1500's by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder; the Palazzo de' Nobili-Tarugi, entirely in travertine, with its ample arcade and uniquely decorated façade; and the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, one of the oldest Palazzi in Montepulciano, across from which is located the Pozzo dei Grifi e dei Leoni, whose name derives from the animals that figure in the trabeation, where the lions can be seen holding up the coat of arms of the Medici (symbolizing Florence), along with the griffons, who represent the city of Montepulciano.