Sightseeing Tours of Montalcino & Brunello Wine

tour duration

4 Hours

start time

09:00 AM & 02:00 PM
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

meeting point

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

What to see

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Abbey of Sant’Antimo

Montalcino - San Antimo - View
Sant'Antimo Abbey - View

Located just a few miles from Montalcino is a large and mysterious building whose true origins are still obscure today. The Abbey of Sant'Antimo is believed to have been built some time during Late Antiquity, with the earliest document confirming its existence dating from the 800s. The current church was actually built in the early 12th century at the bequest of Count Bernardo degli Ardengheschi.

The church quickly became one of the biggest powers in the area, having authority over 38 local churches and owning several hundreds of acres of farmland throughout Tuscany; the church even had control of the Castle of Montalcino, which both protected the area and housed the abbot. The abbey began to decline a century later, due primarily to Siena’s aggressive expansionism and the loss of much of its territory, including Montalcino. The abbey’s decline continued into the 15th century, despite the Church’s attempts at reviving it; it was completely abandoned and left to decay until the 19th century, eventually getting restored in the 1870s. Today, the abbey has resumed function and houses a new religious community of Canons Regular of the Order of Premontre.

Things to see

The building is Carolingian in architecture, with French and Italian influences throughout. Some of the most notable highlights are the frescoes by Giovanni d’Asciano, the French-inspired groin vaulted ambulatory, the crypt and, above all, the capital with Daniel and the Lions.

Siena Clay hills

Tuscany - Farmhouse
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Just south of Siena is a particular area called the Crete Senesi, or Sienese Clay Hills. This range of hills is composed of grey clay which gives the landscape an odd, moon-like appearance, broken only by a few lonely cypress and oak trees, and a few isolated farms.

The sediments of clay date back to the Pliocene, when the area was covered by sea between 2.5 and 4.5 million years ago. Now, the area is a gorgeous touristic attraction that is also famous for its production of the rare white truffle.

Things to see

The closest towns in the area are Asciano, a well preserved medieval village, and San Giovanni d’Asso, a small medieval hamlet guarded by a large castle. Asciano is known for its Etruscan Museum, housed in the Gothic Church of San Bernardino, as well as the Romanesque Basilica of Sant’Agata, which houses the Museum of Sacred Art and the Archeological Museum. The impressive castle that overlooks the hills around San Giovanni d’Asso houses the Truffle Museum, and is also the home of a festival that celebrates the history and harvest of the local truffles.

Montalcino

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Not far from Siena is another, smaller medieval hilltop town by the name of Montalcino, famous above all for its production of Brunello wine.

Like most of the towns in the area, Montalcino was originally an Etruscan settlement that remained relatively small until a sudden population growth in the 10th century. In the middle ages, Montalcino gained some importance due to its location on Via Frencigena, an ancient and important Roman road, as well as its production of quality leather goods. The 14th to 16th centuries were tumultuous, with the town getting caught between the warring Florence and Siena, as well as the various battles between the local noble families. Montalcino was eventually conquered by the Florentine Republic in the mid 16th century and remained under their control until the unification of Italy. Today, Montalcino is very well known for its production of Brunello wine, made from the Sangiovese Grosso grapes that are cultivated in the area surrounding the town.

Things to see

Aside from its delicious wine, Montalcino also offers some fascinating sights such as the medieval Fortress that dominates the highest point in town and offers a stunning panorama from its towers. There is also the Church of Sant’Agostino, an imposing Gothic style religious structure from the 13th century, and whose beautiful cloisters were later added in the 15th century. Finally, a little outside of the town is large and mysterious Abbey of Sant’Antimo, whose true origins are still obscure today.
Brunello wine

Made from the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape, these red wines are among the most complex and rich expressions of Sangiovese. The soils in these hillside vineyards yield robust, voluptuous wines with great depth and aging potential. Notes of leather, earth, plums, and spices are typical. Brunello is the most tannic and the most potentially age-worthy expression of Sangiovese. Rosso di Montalcino, however, is a much more approachable red. Rosso is what Italians drink while they wait for their Brunello to mature.