Montepulciano & Cortona
Montepulciano & Cortona from Florence: a day of marvelous Medieval places and Tuscan countryside. Great for wine lovers, too.
A NOTE ABOUT DRIVING TIMES
4 hours total. Florence-Montepulciano, 90 min; Montepulciano-Cortona, 35 min; Cortona-Florence, 1 hr 40 min.
SUMMARY: MONTEPULCIANO & CORTONA from Florence
On this private day trip from Florence you’ll drive through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Tuscany. Both towns welcome the visitor with a storybook Medieval ambience, and in Montepulciano you will be in a world-class wine-growing region. The best thing is you have a driver, so you can taste wine to your heart’s content!
Nestled in a particularly lovely and much-photographed area of Tuscany, Montepulciano is a classic Medieval village with a refined edge.
Montepulciano is known for its Vino Nobile, but there are many other things to enjoy if you prefer art and architecture to wine. Stroll the sloping, narrow streets and you will inevitably end up at one of many lookout points giving you spectacular views of the rolling countryside.
The main piazza, Piazza Grande, is a beautiful composition of the elegant Renaissance palazzi of important families, the brooding Gothic figure of Palazzo Comunale, the unadorned facade of the cathedral, and Pozzo dei Grifi, a fancy well decorated with lions, griffins, and the Medici family crest. Fans of the Twilight books might recognize Piazza Grande -- it was a shooting location for the New Moon film.
A novelty in town and an emblem of the city is the Torre di Pulcinella. The clock tower is topped by a puppet character from 17th century Neapolitan commedia dell'arte who strikes the bell on the hour to mark the time.
There are a good many churches to visit, for either their architectural beauty (such as San Biagio) or the important artworks they contain (Sant'Agostino).
When Cortona comes to mind, our first association is probably “Under the Tuscan Sun”, but the story of Cortona goes back waaaay before that.
Surely the Etruscans — the sophisticated society that preceded Rome — were here many centuries before Christ, establishing themselves on top of a hill in a magical location, as was their custom.
Legend tells that Noah landed here after The Great Flood, settling in the fertile valley and bearing a son who would found Cortona. One of his descendants, Dardanus, would go to Anatolia (modern Turkey) and found Dardania, which would become the ill-fated city of Troy. After the fall of Troy its survivors sailed to Italy with Aeneas, of the line of Dardanus, settling on the Tyhrrenian coast, where Romulus would later found the city of Rome. So if on your visit to Cortona you hear “Cortona, mother of Troy and grandmother of Rome” now you know why!
If lore isn’t your thing, no worries, there are tons of very tangible things to see in Cortona, which is above all else a splendid Medieval village.
The main square, Piazza della Repubblica, with its handsome 13th Century town hall, is a good place to start. Keep strolling and you’ll come to Teatro (theatre) Signorelli, the Etruscan museum (take note, ancient history geeks!), a maze of narrow streets, and lots of nice shops. If you are interested in buying ceramics, or just want to sit at an outdoor café with some good food and wine, you’re in a great place.
Go on a little walk and in about 15 minutes you’ll reach the sanctuary of Santa Margherita, the beautiful Neo-Gothic church where the patron saint of Cortona is enshrined.
MONTEPULCIANO & CORTONA from Florence
DURATION: 8 hrs
OTHER COSTS & NOTES
The cost of wine tastings is not included.
- CHURCH DRESS CODE
Proper attire is required to enter churches (bare shoulders must be covered and shorts/skirts must come down to your knees).
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