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SIENA Specials - Out of town - Montepulciano - the old town centre

With roughly 15,000 inhabitants, Montepulciano is in the Valdichiana region of Tuscany at an altitude of 605 metres above se level.

For centuries this town was fiercely contended by Siena and Florence, before passing definitively under the control of the latter in 1404

By order of Cosimo I de’ Medici an additional circle of fortifications was erected around the city to designs by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder. Today Montepulciano is noted for its prized wines such as the Nobile di Montepulciano, as well as for its magnificent Renaissance monuments and Medieval streets that have retained their original design with arches and vaultings.

Piazza Grande is the fulcrum of public life in Montepulciano and contains its major sights. The Duomo was built between 1592 and 1630 to designs by Ippolito Scalza. Above the high altar there is a Senese School triptych by Taddeo di Bartolo of The Assumption of the Virgin. The altar is flanked by a partly dismantled funerary monument by Michelozzo.

Next to the Duomo is the 14th century gothic Palazzo Comunale. In the 15th century Michelozzo designed the façade and tower. Next to the town hall stands the imposing 16th century Palazzo Tarugi.

Via del Corso contains Montepulciano’s major 16th century buildings: Palazzo Avignonesi and Palazzo Buccelli, with a number of Etruscan bas-reliefs and funerary sculptures incorporated into the lower section of the façade.

Beneath the fortifications stands the Church of the Madonna di San Biagio, built entirely in white travertine marble to designs by Antonio da Sangallo between 1518 and 1534. The Church of Sant’Agostino, built by Michelozzo in 1427, is in Piazza Michelozzo. Its majestic doorway is adorned with a sculpture of the Virgin and Child, with St John and St Augustine.

In July and August Montepulciano hosts the Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte arts festival founded by the German composer Hans Werner Henze. In August there is the Bruscello antique theatre festival.

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