Private tours to Montepulciano - Chianti - Montalcino
Montepulciano is an actractivelittle towntypical of the Renaissance period. It occupes a remarkably picturesque setting on the top of a tufa hill separating two valleys. The town founded in the 6C by people from Chiusi fleeing the Barbarin invasion. They named it Mons Politianus, which explains why people from the town are known as Poliziani. Poets have long sung the praises of its ruby-red wine ( vino nobile ). Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, one of the two senior members of the famous family of Renaissance sculptor and architects, bequeathed some of his most famous works to Montepulciano.
The main square at the top of the town is the central landmark. Its irregular layout and the different styles of fašade avoid architectural monotony and combine to give an overall sense of harmony.
The Gothic town hall includes 15C alterations by Michelozzo. It is reminescent of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence with its machicolations, battlements and picturesque square tower. From the top of the tower there is an extensive panoramic view of the town and its outskirts including the Church of the Madonna di San Biagio and the Tuscan countryside embracing Mount Amiata, Pienza, Siena, Cortona, and Lake Trasimeno. On the othr side of the square stands Palazzo Contucci, which was begun in 1519 by Sangallo the Elder but was not completed until the 18C.
PALAZZO NOBILI -TARUGI
This majestic Renaissance mansion opposite the cathedral is attributed to Sangallo the Elder. It features a portico and huge doorway with semicircular arches. Six lonic columns set on a very high base support the pilasters of the first floor. The loggia used to be open but has been walled up. The bay windows with their rounded pediments are set on small consoles. On the left above the central doorway, note the window from which the occupants of the palace could watch visitors arriving. Next to Palazzo Tarugi is the Palazzo del Capitano
The cathedral was built in the 16C-17C, though the facade never received its marble cladding. The interior, consisting of nave and two aisles, Is austere and stylistically pure. Beside the central doorway is the recumbent statue of Bartolomeo Aragazzi, Secretary to Pope Martin V; the statue was formerly part ofAragazzi's tomb, designed by Michelozzo (15C) and dismantled in the 17C. The two elegant statues flanking the high altar and the low-relief sculptures on the first two pillars were also originally part of the tomb. The 14C Baptistery is surmounted by a fine piece of terracotta by Andrea della Robbia. One of the pillars in the north aisle bears a portrait of the Madonna painted by Sano di Pietro in the 15C. Behind the high altar is a monumental reredos painted in 1401 byTaddeo di Bartolo, the Sienese artist, depicting the Assumption, the Annunciation and the Coronation of the Virgin Mary.
Below the town, off S 146 to Pienza. An avenue of cypress trees leads to this magnificent church, dedicated to Our Lady of San Biagio and built of pale golden stone, which stands in a delightful setting in the middle of a grassy stretch of flat land high above the valley. It is the masterpiece of Antonio da Sangallo the Elder and was inaugurated in 1529 by Pope Clement VII, a member of the Medici family. As Sangallo's building was strongly influenced by Bramante's plan for the reconstruction of St Peter's in Rome which, owing to the artist's death, was not carried out as planned, it is a valuable reminder of the designs drawn by the architect for the Pope.
Although somewhat simplified, San Biagio copies the notion of the central plan in the form of a Greek cross with domed roof, the main facade being given greater emphasis by two beh towers set in the recesses of the cross. One is incomplete; the other includes the three orders - Doric, lonic and Corinthian. The south transept extends into a semicircular sacristy. The harmonious ines and skilful design of the architectural motifs enhancing the structural features convey a sense of majestic solemnity, which continues into the interior. On the left of the entrance an Annunciation, painted in the 14C, and the impressive marble high altar (1584). The elegant building with a portico (opposite) is the canon's residence (Canonica).