A well known place for the production of Brunello wine, Montalcino is situated in the north-west of Monte Amiata, at the end of the Val d'Orcia. The village rises at an altitude of 564 m a.s.l. but in some points of the region it exceed the 600 m a.s.l. like Poggio Osticcio (624 m a.s.l.), the pass of Lume Spento (621 m a.s.l.) and the Poggio Civitella (661 m a.s.l.) where there is an ancient Etruscan fortress. Montalcino is mentioned for the first time in a document of 29th December 814, when the Emperor Ludovico il Pio granted the territory on Monte Lucini to the abbot of the nearby Abbey of Sant'Antimo.
On the origin of the name of Montalcino, some believe it derives from Mons Lucinus quoted in this document of the 814, named in honor of the goddess Lucina or reference to the latin word lucus, that means "sacred wood", or more generally "small forest". Others, instead, think that the toponym derives from Mons Ilcinus, from Latin mons (mount) and ilex (evergreen oak), "monte dei lecci", a very widespread plant in the area which is also represented in the city coat of arms. The first inhabited nucleus should date back to the X century. In this period the population experienced a notable growth in population when the inhabitants of Roselle moved into the city.
The original inhabited nucleus was extended over the centuries until, in the XIV century, it reached the current size. Thanks to the location of the city, dominating on top of a hill, from its avenues the view can sweep over the valleys of Ombrone and Asso. In medieval times the main economic activity was the tannery and Montalcino had numerous factories for the working of leather, factories which were famous for the quality of their products. But its luck was to be in the centre of one of the most important areas of the cultivation of grapes.
The territory, in fact, is celebrated for the presence of vineyards of Sangiovese from which they obtain the famous Brunello di Montalcino and that are also used for the production of two other DOC wines: Rosso di Montalcino and Sant'Antimo. The main square of Montalcino is Piazza del Popolo. The main building of the square is the Palazzo Comunale, also known as Palazzo dei Priori (between the end of the thirteenth century and the beginning of the XIV). The palace is adorned with the heraldic coat of arms of the numerous podestà who ruled the city over the centuries. A high medieval tower is incorporated in the palace. Near the Palazzo Comunale, there is a Renaissance structure with six round arches, called La Loggia.
The city walls were built in the XIII century. The fortress was built in the highest point of the city in 1361, has a pentagonal structure and was designed by Sienese architects Mino Foresi and Domenico di Feo. The fortress incorporates some of the pre-existing structures including the Mastio di Santo Martini, the tower of San Giovanni and the ancient Basilica, which now serves as the chapel of the castle. In the district Poggio alle Mura, were discovered the fossil remains of a whale that lived in the area more than four million years ago in the Pliocene period when the warm waters of the Tyrrhenian sea covered the area occupied by the existing vineyards. Among the local traditions one to remember is the Thrush Festival that is held on the last Sunday of October and the Tourney for the opening of the hunting season every month of August.
On the external back of the Val d'Orcia there is Montalcino, the homeland of the Brunello, one of the most famous and appreciated Italian wines in the world, as well as the first to obtain in 1980 the Docg certification. Every thing in this hamlet tastes like its grapes, each brick has the colors of its secular tradition. Even the ancient Rocca, built by Sienese people in 1361, today houses in its interior a winery dedicated to the world of Brunello. And with a glass of this nectar of the gods in one hand, you can also be nourished by the music and the theatre, thanks to the shows hosted in the courtyard. Montalcino is in fact rich of art, as well as one the most ancient centres of ceramic production in the whole of Tuscany. The Convent of Sant'Agostino is the place for the city museums. In a really green valley at a certain distance from the village we find the abbey of Sant'Antimo. You might say it looks like a French church, so high, all vertical, in travertine and alabaster. They began to build it in the second half of the XII century. Griffins, eagles, fantastic animals and geometric motifs write stories on the portals of the building and on the capitals. Despite being throughout the year a locality rich in events, folklore and traditions, by far the most outstanding is the Tourney for the opening of the hunting season in mid-August, which is actually an exciting shooting match in which the targets are faithful replicas. The prize is a silver arrow which evokes the ancient tradition of the wild game homage to the castellan.
Village of Montalcino
The Municipality of Montalcino
Province of Siena
inhabitants: 5.728 montalcinesi
Altitude center: 567 m a.s.l.
The Municipality is part of:
Città del bio
Città del miele
Città del tartufo
Città del vino
Orange Flag - Italian Touring Club
Protected natural areas:
Val d'Orcia (UNESCO site)
Piazza Cavour 13 - Tel. 0577 80441
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