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Guide to Montalcino: Wine and Beyond

Guide to Montalcino: Wine and Beyond

Tucked away in the world-renowned hills of Toscana, Montalcino is a tiny medieval Italian village. The enchanting narrow streets, imposing full circle of fortified walls, and pristine perfection of its medieval castle give a timeless atmosphere to this hilltop town.

Situated in the heavenly Val d’Orcia Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004, Montalcino is celebrated also for a truly Italian specialty: Brunello di Montalcino red wine, one of Italy's most famous and prestigious wines. With its immaculate architecture, breathtaking landscapes, and divine red nectar, Montalcino is without any doubt a unique destination worth a visit.


When in Montalcino, a magnificent spectacle unfolds before your eyes: breathtaking sunny hills, imposing oak trees, and picturesque country roads climbing through an astonishing carpet of vineyards and cypress trees. This is Val d’Orcia, a landscape of rare beauty, which extends from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata, in the beloved Tuscan countryside.

Val d’Orcia is characterized by gentle, carefully cultivated hills dotted by gullies and truly Tuscan towns and villages. The criterion under which this valley was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site explains what to expect from this amazing place:

“The Val d’Orcia is an exceptional reflection of the way the landscape was re-written in Renaissance times to reflect the ideals of good governance and to create an aesthetically pleasing picture.”

tuscany toscana


The real secret behind the prosperity and popularity of this small town in Italy is its Brunello wine, one of the most appreciated red wines in the world. Before 1888, when Ferruccio Biondi Santi created the modern Brunello “recipe,” Montalcino was a simple village like many in the hills of Toscana. Since then, the village has increased in popularity and today has become one of the most powerful in the wine industry.

Authentic Brunello di Montalcino is made from the Sangiovese variety, the most widely planted grape in the Montalcino region, and the only grape permitted in Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Before the Brunello is ready, it must age for a minimum of five years (this is for the riserva variety, while the normale needs “only” 50 months), two of which must take place in oak barrels. Instead, the less expensive Rosso di Montalcino is ready after only one year of aging.

The acknowledgments that attest to the quality of this wine are countless: in 1999, Wine Spectator listed a Brunello wine among the 12 best-ever wines of the 21st century, and in 2006, a Brunello wine was crowned the absolute best in a worldwide ranking.



Montalcino is located almost in the middle of Toscana, a position that makes this town an ideal starting point for visiting one of the most desired regions in Italy: there is a lot to see in a region that hosts five of the 20 most visited tourist attractions in Italy and seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Only 45 minutes away is the magnificent city of Siena. Famous all over the world for the “Palio di Siena” - the spectacular horse race run twice a year around Piazza del Campo – Siena is also one of the loveliest medieval cities in Italy. Its old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a concentration of authentic Italian masterpieces such as Torre del Mangia (the third tallest secular tower in Italy) and the Duomo, one of the most outstanding Romanesque-Gothic churches in Italy.

Arezzo is a truly Tuscan city, offering a cross section of the region thanks to both the artistic and architectural heritage of its old town center (including masterpieces by Cimabue and Piero della Francesca) and the peaceful atmosphere of its countryside. Here the landscape is dotted with fantastic villas, medieval castles and villages hiding authentic treasures in their narrow streets.

Last but not least, is the picturesque town of San Gimignano. Situated between Siena and Firenze, San Gimignano is a small walled village famous for its medieval architecture and 13th century towers that rise above the surrounding buildings, offering an impressive view of the valley. The excellent preservation of its old town center helped San Gimignano become UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

Buon viaggio!

san gimignano toscana

Eataly Magazine is pleased to publish this guest post by Pietro Marco Fraccalvieri of Select Italy, an agency specializing in Italian travel.