Stores at the Corso in Montepulciano, Tuscany/Italy
  Climbing up to charming Montepulciano
A true Tuscan treasure high up on the hill
Montepulciano, Tuscany/Italy (2017) – I had a close relationship with Montepulciano long before
I ever saw this beautiful and picturesque medieval town. Well let's be honest, my relationship was more with the town's name, "Montepulciano" than with the city itself. It just sounds so special
when you say it:"Mon-te-pul-cia-no". Try it! It's like Ferrari, Mont Blanc or Manhattan.
Some words just have something royal to it. Montepulciano I used mainly in connection with the wine card in restaurants. I thought it made me look smart, like I would know a thing or two about wine. My real relationship with the city of Montepulciano unfolded only this year. First we
flirted and then we fell in love. Well, I fell in love with this amazingly beautiful Tuscan city. Even though this gorgeous Renaissance town asked more of me than I was willing to give at first.
Montepulciano – Once you've reached the top you'll know why it was worth it
Montepulciano – located on the top of a hill, 605 meters over the sea level (1,985 feet) and about 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of the great Tuscan city Siena, 124 kilometers (77 miles) southeast of the famous Florence or 186 kilometers (116 miles) north of the Italian capital Rome – is a great gateway into the amazingly beautiful Val d'Orcia. Arriving in Montepulciano by car made one of the problems I might have with my new found relationship right away obvious: parking. The city supposedly is known for being a pedestrian city and almost free of cars. Needless to say, I didn't know. Even though it might have been a clue that a lot of little tiny cars were parked alongside the road driving up to the city, but in side of the city walls, there were only very few cars in sight. If I would have paid more attention to it, I might have understood earlier what was obvious. But I was too busy navigating a way bigger car through the narrow streets of Montepulciano, trying not to hit houses or other obstacles in my way. Let's put it this way: these streets should be called alleys which they really are. More than once I wondered how in the world could there be even a little car pass through. These narrow streets are made for walking and nothing else. Do yourself a favor while visiting Montepulciano, at least once ride with public transportation, take the little tiny orange bus "Pollicino" from the bottom of the city to the top square, you will have a true adventure tour. 

Since Montepulciano sits on top of a hill, space is very limited and for that so is parking. If you don't have a parking permit (issued from your hotel or bed & breakfast) you can't enter the city by car and obviously you can't park there either. It's not a huge problem, I admit, but it is a problem when planning on staying for a few days and you come with luggage and like me with lots of photo equipment. Trust me, parking at the bottom of the city and carrying all your stuff up to your hotel is no fun at all. 
 
The main street in Montepulciano, where everything important is you might want to see, is 1.5 Kilometers long (not quite a mile) and leads from Porta al Prato to the Piazza Grande on top. You might have guessed it already, in between are several meter in height. Your body won't love you for that but the pharmaceutical industry will, because you will be thankful for every pain killer you might get your hand on at the end of the day. In Montepulciano you either go up or down within its ancient city walls. There is no such thing as a flat walkway.

I recommend to walk the "Corso", the main street in all its length from top to bottom, not only for the many very cute stores and artist shops which are part of the cities charm but also for the walking experience. You will have the feeling you hike through the mountains but instead you're actually walking a shopping mile. Strolling through the city for sure is fun because on every corner is something cool to see, the alley's are all picturesque, the stores full of local "must have" brands, you can watch artists paint or doing mosaics and now and then you'll even find the way into an antique wine cellar where you can get the feeling for the local "Nobile di Montepulciano" during a wine tasting. Since Montepulciano became even more famous over the past years – also as film location for the vampire saga "Twilight – loads of visitors from all over the world also find their ways into the charming city, which means: sharing the space and the pleasure.

Perfect "base camp" for tours into the Val d'Orcia
Montepulciano is renowned for its pork, cheese, "pici" pasta, lentils and honey and of course most of all it is known worldwide for its wine, the "Vino Nobile" is considered one of Italy's best red wines. Montepulciano belongs to the  Val di Chiana but is located at the beginning of Val d'Orcia, which makes the city a great "base camp" for tours to the neighboring cities like Pienza, where the Tuscan "Pecorino" cheese is made or Montalcino, home of the famous "Brunello" wine. Montepulciano is not all about shopping and wine only, there is also lots of great tasty local food to grab for lunch and dinner. One of the specialties: the handmade spaghetti pasta "pici" with meat or cheese sauce (pici cacio e pepe). Beware: you can get hooked, it's that good!

"Camere Bellavista" – Bed & Breakfast with a unforgettable view
Last but not least one advise for accommodation: Check with Gabriella Massoni, she and her husband own the "Camere Bellavista" , a very nice family run bed & breakfast in one of the ancient buildings in Via Ricci on top of the hill, close to "Piazza Grande", the main square of the town, the cathedral and city hall. The Massoni's not only offer a room for a reasonable price, your room at the "Bellavista" will come with a gorgeous view far into the landscape of the valley including a Tuscan sunset. And while you're staying there you might also be provided with a city drive and park permit. Check out "Camere Bellavista"  online and/or get in touch with Gabriella via mail info@camerebellavista.it .
   
Beautiful mask posing at the Carnival in Venice