Our stay in Tuscany placed us within convenient reach of Montepulciano. We’ve spent so much time luxuriating over Montepulciano wines in restaurants and at home that the place name alone has become associated with leisurely pleasure and warm company. It would have been a crime not to take advantage of such close proximity.
This walled medieval town curls along a narrow sloping ridge high above the Vino Nobile wine growing region. It’s a grand old place, providing sweeping views of the Tuscan countryside. Little cafes and restos pepper the narrow, rolling streets (wear good walking shoes; wandering here is a bit of a workout!), with wine tastings available at every turn. Groups of tourists huddled together and puzzling over the local tourism map is another common site - it's pretty much useless for finding your way around. Grab one just to get a general sense of where you are in the labyrinth but don't expect to use it to navigate. While we didn’t stay the night in Montepulciano it seems like it would be an incredible place to base yourself and explore the region's charming villages.
Between glasses of exquisite wine, we sobered up by wandering streets with stone walls that promised to glow like gold during sunset. In narrow streets that beak up the Renaissance palaces we heard the mesmerizing trickle of music from the Accademia Palazzo Ricci, the sounds of a rehearsing opera singer and orchestra musicians flowing through the alleyways like a gentle stream.
Our memories of Montepulciano remain some of the most vivid from our travels in Italy. One moment in particular captures the almost dream-like quality of the place: sitting on the cobblestone street glowing softly in the famous Tuscan sun, sipping wine and nibbling on a charcuterie board, with an elegantly dressed elderly man lost in his book as our only companion. It was a magical moment that will stay with us forever.