For those familiar with the location of the historic and breathtaking town of Montepulciano, they know about its ideal location and ease of taking day trips to visit many fascinating towns in Tuscany. However, for those first-time travelers visiting us, we are often asked for advice about our favorite day trip destinations. From exploring a grand Renaissance city to a small medieval town, here are just a few of our favorites, all within an easy reach from Montepulciano…
Siena – With its grand piazza and stunning cathedral…
Siena is one of our favorite day trip destinations. This city captured our hearts the very first time we visited. As you walk along its ancient cobbled streets, you can easily sense the medieval magic and charm of the city. The main piazza, Piazza del Campo, is a sight to be seen! Shaped as a shell, it is a gathering place to relax and people watch while having a gelato. The piazza is also home to the twice annual Palio. Dating back to 1633 and held July 2nd and August 16th every year, 10 horses and riders chosen from the 17 contrade (city neighborhoods) race to bring home a win for their neighborhood.
The main duomo in Siena is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption. Dating back to the 13th century, both the interior and exterior are clad in alternating white and black marble and the front façade uses red marble. The first time we entered this church, it took our breath away.
Taking a day trip from Montepulciano to Siena takes about 50 minutes by car.
Florence – A Modern City built from a Medieval Masterpiece
Florence, the capital of Tuscany, is world-renowned and home to many Renaissance masterpieces of art and architecture. Sights not to miss include the Ponte Vecchio, with its many gold and jewelry shops; the Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses the famed Michelangelo’ “David”; the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s duomo; and the Uffizi Gallery to see works by Leonardo da Vinci.
Florence is also home to many artisan leather shops where you can indulge and find anything from purses and wallets to luxurious gloves and coats. While shopping, be sure not to miss Via de’Tornabuoni, which is lined with shops that include Gucci, Fendi, Prada, and Armani…just to name a few!
Taking a day trip from Montepulciano to Florence takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes by car.
Cortona – Under the Tuscan Sun
This charming hilltop town was made famous when American author Frances Mayes purchased a home and wrote a book about her experiences renovating Villa Bramasole. Later turned into a movie (Under the Tuscan Sun), Cortona has become a destination for many book lovers and film buffs alike.
Walking down Via Nazionale, the main street in Cortona, you will be greeted with many shops, art galleries, and restaurants that fill the senses. One of our fondest memories was a warm summer evening many years ago. There were many people out enjoying a passeggiata (a walk) and there was a little boy about 5 or 6 years old zooming up and down the street on his bike. His bike pedal fell off, making him terribly sad. We stepped in and asked if we could help and repaired his bike the best we could. Both he and his mother were so grateful and every time he zoomed past us, he would shout “Ciao!”
For incredible views, be sure to continue climbing up the cobbled streets of Cortona and make your way to the Basilica di Santa Margherita at the top. The views over the valley are absolutely spectacular!
Taking a day trip from Montepulciano to Cortona takes about 45 minutes by car.
Pienza & Bagno Vignoni – 2 Towns, one day trip
Both Pienza and Bagno Vignoni are smaller villages and so visiting them together makes an excellent day trip.
Pienza has two primary claims to fame. The first is that Pope Pius II was born there in 1405. Once he became pope, he had the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town. The second is the delicious Pecorino di Pienza. This famous cheese is made from local sheep’s milk and can be served ranging from soft and fresh to hard and aged.
Home to wonderful little shops, quaint restaurants, and a never-ending view over the Val d’Orcia, Pienza is on many of our guests’ lists of places to visit. And of course…don’t forget to treat yourself to the some of the best gelato in Tuscany at Buon Gusto Gelateria!
Bagno Vignoni is a little smaller than Pienza, but home to many wonderful spas and natural thermal springs. The village is built around Piazza delle Sorgenti, also known as the Baths of St. Catherine, which is a large thermal pool in the center of town. Although you can no longer enter the thermal pool, you can reach over and feel the warm mineral waters that fill it. Below the village are numerous thermal pools that the mineral waters from Piazza delle Sorgenti flow to and fill. You can find many locals and tourist alike enjoying the warm waters and coating themselves with the mineral-rich mud, which can have healing effects.
Taking a day trip from Montepulciano to Pienza takes about 15 minutes by car. Bagno Vignoni is only about 24 more minutes beyond Pienza.
We hope you enjoyed reading about a few of our favorite day-trip destinations from Montepulciano! Although these are just a few, there are many more wonderful places to explore that we would be delighted to share during your stay with us…