June 22, 2015

Montefollonico to Montepulciano, Italy

We embrace slow travel, so for this trip to Italy we spent almost two weeks in Tuscany, then a few days in Rome.  While in Tuscany, we stayed in the tiny hilltop village of Montefollonico, a charming walled medieval enclave located short 15-minute drives from both Pienza and Montepulciano, two of the most storied towns in the area.  We prefer to rent apartments rather than stay in hotels, and in Montefollonico, our two bedroom rental featured an incredible 12th-century tower, complete with parapets and arrow slits.  The views from the terrace atop the tower were spectacular!

While researching the area before our trip, we'd noticed farm lanes and white roads between Montefollonico and Montepulciano that might not be drivable in our compact rental, but were mighty appealing for a hike.  We used Google Earth to make the traverse electronically and determined it would be possible, and fairly straightforward to navigate.  Once we arrived, we could actually see most of the route we would take from the terrace. Nevertheless, I was comforted to find a brochure in the tourist office with a map and description of the hike, included here below the photos.  I just feel better with a map on my person, even though we ended up not needing or using it, as is often the case.  Peace of mind...   

We deviated from the described route only slightly, starting at our apartment rather than at the tourist office.  Also, the brochure describes two options at the base of Montepulciano, left to climb into the village and right to visit the enormous Tempio di San Biago.  Because the hike one way is over four miles, we knew that attempting it round-trip would be beyond Frankie's range.  Plus, we wanted to see the inside of the San Biago church, a striking building that we hadn't toured on our previous day trip to Montepulciano.  Therefore, as we'd planned back home, we hiked to San Biago, then caught a bus to the Piazza Grande at the top of Montepulciano.  We climbed the tower in the Palazzo Comunale (again) to look at where we'd hiked, got some gelato, and then walked back down through the village to the Porta al Prato, where we called a taxi to take us back to Montefollonico.

Highly recommended! 

the view from our terrace -- San Biago, our hiking destination, is indicated by the red arrow
another shot from our tower terrace, with San Biago visible between the parapets
a footpath descending through the woods starts right outside the east gate of Montefollonico, just past Chiesa del Triano
looking back up at Montefollonico
turning right at the tiny St. Anna church

picnic lunch

running up a hill in the blazing sun

getting closer to Montepulciano and San Biago

Montefollonico is visible on the hilltop behind Frankie

this friendly pony was grazing the far side of the pasture, but came to our side to greet us
Montepulciano, with the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) and it's tower on the far right
Tempio di San Biago

la Piazza Grande di Montepulciano; il Duomo (left) and Palazzo Comunale (right)
view of San Biago from the top of the Palazzo Comunale tower
view back toward Montefollonico from the top of the Palazzo Comunale tower (red arrow indicates our starting point)
Frankie crashed hard on the taxi ride back to Montefollonico
brochure from the Montefollonico tourist office
map in the brochure from the Montefollonico tourist office

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