This characteristic Sienese restaurant is to be found in a XII century building in a great position near the famous Piazza del Campo. The simple tables and other furniture are of solid wood. The owners also have a wine bar or enoteca in an ancient Etruscan house carved out of tufa stone, stippled with chisel marks. The enoteca has an impressive list of fine wines, both local and national. Try some of the pasta dishes, all made in-house, including ravioli, pici, pappardelle and gnocchi verdi alle erbette with mint and tarragon.
With its splendid view of Montalcino’s Fortress, Drogheria Franci is the ideal place in which to enjoy original Tuscan flavors accompanied by a glass of fine wine. Visitors can also stay in one of the three rooms in the adjacent Locanda Franci – owned by the same family – in the traditional Tuscan architectural style, with wood, brick flooring and natural stonework. The restaurant also has a shop, Franci Bio, specializing in locally sourced organic products.
This was first opened by Ferruccio BiondiSanti, the creator of Brunello, in 1888. It boasts a list of illustrious guests including Prince Charles, prime ministers such as the Canadian Jean Chretienne, politicians, actors and sports people, both Italian and international. It is considered the “Florian” of Montalcino, a splendid example of a café in the Art Nouveau style; it has the original red velvet couches, mirrors, yellow marble tables, and glass display cases. It is one of the “Locali Storici d’Italia” (historic establishments of Italy) and has always been a meeting place for people interested in wine and culture.
The Nannini brand celebrated in centennial in 2010, the culmination of a success story so long it has come to symbolize Sienna all over Italy and the world. The products served by this famous bar are typical of the Sienna tradition, from panforte to cantucci and ricciarelli, all accompanied by its renowned coffee of the highest quality, served in an ambience where even the smallest detail is eloquent. Bar Nannini has become the café of choice for both the locals and the numerous tourists who flock to the city every year to discover the genuine flavours of the Tuscan tradition.
This was one of the first wine stores to open in Montalcino. Founded in 1980, it is the only one inside the main tower of Montalcino’s mediaeval Fortress, a monument steeped in history and a symbol of the last glorious defence of the Republic of Siena in 1555 against Spanish and Florentine troops. Tasting sessions and visits can be booked, which offer a choice of two to five wines, including Brunello, Rosso and Super Tuscan, accompanied by organic products typical of the area, such as Tuscan “crostini”, mushrooms, truffles, “cantucci” biscuits and premium oils.
- Piazzale della Fortezza, 53024 Montalcino – - View Map
- 0577 849211
- Open: 9:00am - 8:00pm.
The Grand Hotel Continental is in the XVII century Palazzo Gori, in the heart of Siena’s historic centre (a Unesco heritage site). The building has been restored and renovated, while all the original frescoes have been preserved and the allure of the Salone delle Feste is as fresh as it was 300 years ago. The most beautiful room is undoubtedly the Royal Suite with its sophisticated XVI century trompe-l’oeil decoration. Monarchs, great artists, powerful statesmen and famous intellectuals visiting Siena have all slept here.
This one-time mediaeval fortress on the slopes of the Montagnola Senese is now the Relais la Suvera, set in a landscape of rolling hills, vineyards and woodland. The owners have transformed their home into a hotel that is unique for its timeless intimate atmosphere, for the collection of antique furniture and paintings that decorate the 36 rooms and suites, and for its gardens.
Antichità Mazzoni has been a fixed point for lovers of antiquity and antiques, both Italian and international, since 1889. Generations of the Mazzoni family have run the establishment, which is one of the city’s officially designated “historic shops”. The current owner, Giuseppe Mazzoni, a descendant of the founder Foresto Riccardo Mazzoni, deals in furniture, memorabilia, ornaments, paintings, sculptures and ceramics. It relocated from the original shop in via del Paradiso to its current premises below the Cathedral’s sacristy in 1970.
Galleriacontinua opened in an old 1950s cinema in San Gimignano in 1990 by three friends: Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi and Maurizio Rigillo. They launched their art business in an unlikely place, far from the big ultra-modern cities, in a place steeped in history. The gallery exhibits work by international artists such as Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Galleriacontinua opened a gallery in Beijing in 2005 and in Les Moulins, France in 2007.
Built in 1492, the Piccolomini Library is a unique Renaissance creation. It is situated inside the cathedral of Siena and was successfully restored in 2015, without sacrificing any of its appeal. The ten frescoed compartments on the walls were decorated by Pinturicchio, the famous XV century Italian painter, who was assisted by, among others, the young Raphael. Commissioned as a repository for illuminated manuscripts belonging to Pope Pius II, the library’s frescoes depict ten key episodes in the pontiff’s life.
Founded in 1971 by Giovanni Neri, who understood the wine-producing potential of the Montalcino area, his company now has around 500 hectares and is one of the most highly prized wineries in Montalcino. In addition to direct sales, the vineyard organizes tours of the winery and tastings: a must-try is their Tenuta Nuova, a wine that scored 100/100 in the 2010 ranking by wine critic and oenologist Robert Parker, thus securing it the title of best wine in the world.
Siena’s Torre del Mangia in piazza del Campo is the tower of the city hall and was one of the highest towers in Italy when it was built. It was named after one of the first bell-ringers, who was known for his gluttony and spendthrift habits. It’s worth climbing the tower’s 400 steps to enjoy the unique 360-degree view of the city and the surrounding countryside. The Civic Museum is in the Palazzo Pubblico, which was built between the late XIII and early XIV centuries as the seat of government of the Republic of Siena. It is on the first floor and has numerous masterpieces of Sienese art and some exquisite frescoes, including Simone Martini’s “La Maestà” in the Sala del Mappamondo and Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s “Allegory of Good and Bad Government” in the Sala dei Nove.
Piazza del Duomo is dominated by the extraordinary façade of the cathedral, which stands proud of the shadows of other buildings for most of the day. It was built between 1285 and 1317. The cathedral sits on a monumental base with steps. The black and white banded bell tower was built at the end of the XIII century using part of the old Torre dei Bisdomini.
Battistero di San Giovanni stands in the square of the same name in Siena, beneath the final spans of the cathedral’s choir and is accessed by steps from piazza San Giovanni. Built in the XIV century, it was the city’s baptismal church for centuries and has art works considered to be some of the finest examples of XV century art. The most important piece is the famous sculpted baptismal font, on which great masters of the early Italian Renaissance, including Donatello, worked.
Piazza del Campo is Siena’s main square. With its highly original, indeed unique, shell shape, it is known all over the world for its beauty and architectural integrity, and also as the venue of the annual Palio di Siena, a race between the various quarters (contrade of the city. This square was originally a large meadow, hence the name “campo” (field). It is surrounded by some of the most important examples of Sienese architecture, such as the Palazzo Pubblico, the Torre del Mangia and the Loggia della Mercanzia.
San Gimignano is a small town in the hills of Val d’Elsa in the province of Siena. It is worth a visit because of the striking mediaeval architecture, including numerous towers, in its historic centre. It is said that there were 72 towers – symbolizing the power of the leading families – in the fourteenth century. Today there are just thirteen. San Gimignano was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best examples of urban organization in the period of the communes in mediaeval Europe.
Built at the highest point in the city by Domenico di Feo and Mino Foresi in 1361, the Fortress is an important example of military architecture. It is pentagonal in form, with a tower on each corner, and still virtually intact. From the inner courtyard visitors can access the battlements and towers and enjoy the stunning panorama. In summer it hosts Montalcino’s Jazz and Wine Festival, a programme of concerts and other events attracting lovers of fine wine and good music from all over the world.
The countryside around Montalcino offers so many different panoramas: lovers of wine can go south into the land of the highly prized Brunello or north to the verdant landscape of Chianti, with its rich agricultural terrain and intricate patchwork of farms and estates set amidst woods, vineyards and olive groves. Another unique landscape to the south-east is the Crete Senesi, a system of pale, softly undulating hills - famous for white truffles - where rain has eroded the clay sediments in the terrain. Val d’Orcia was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2004.