Sightseeing Tours of the Southern Tuscany Food & Wine Tour

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Vino Nobile

Nobile Montepulciano
Vino Nobile - GrapeVino Nobile - GlassVal D'Orcia - Landscape

The Vino Nobile of Montepulciano is a red wine produced in Montepulciano, southern Tuscany. The wine is a blend of Sangiovese grapes (minimum 70%), Canaiolo Nero grapes (10%-20%) and other local varieties. The classic Vino Nobile aged in oak barrels for 2 years, while the riserva stays a year more.

It has a bright ruby red color and a rich texture. Sophisticated aromas of cherry and plum follow through to a full-bodied palate, with soft, round tannins and a flavorful finish.

The wine production of this area can count on a very long tradition. The vineyards of the area are documented as far back as 789 AD. In 1350 were written the first rules for Montepulciano’s wine trade.

For centuries the wine produced in this area was called Vino rosso scelto di Montepulciano. The Cantine Fanetti had promoted this wine since the end of the First World War all around the world. In 1930 the winemaker Adamo Fainetti coined the name Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Noble Wine of Montepulciano).

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In 1931 Siena hosted the first trade show of wine: the Vino Nobile had an incredible success. Many companies of the area started to switch their production from Chianti to Vino Nobile. Only 7 years after the Vino Nobile was officially born it was founded a Cantina Sociale to help promote the Montepulciano’s wine produced also by the smaller winemakers.

In 1966 the Vino Nobile gained the DOC title (Denomination of Controlled Origin) and in 1980 it was upgrade to the DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guarenteed Origin).

Today the Vino Nobile is a well known and appreciated wine all around the world.


Pecorino di Pienza

Pecorino di Pienza - Selection
Pecorino di PienzaPecorino di Pienza - SheepMontepulciano - Gattavechi Cheese Tasting

The delicious Pecorino di Pienza is a Tuscan Pecorino, one of the oldest cheeses of the world. It is made from 100% whole sheep milk.

The word Pecorino derives form Pecora that means sheep in Italian.

The Tuscan Pecorino is a sweeter and milder version of the ones produced in southern Italy.

There are three different kind of Pecorino: Fresco (fresh), semi-stagionato and stagionato (seasoned).  The Pecorino Fresco is aged for a minimum of 40 days and a maximum of 2 months; the semi-stagionato one is matured for up to 4 months and the Stagionato between 4 and 18 months.

The Pecorino di Pienza is becoming one of the most famous cheeses of the region.

Pienza is located in the Val d’Orcia, between Montalcino and Montepulciano, two cities famous for the wine production.

The area of Pienza is very different from the rest of the Tuscany; the dry clay earth is not easy to cultivate. Probably for this reason since before the Etruscan period sheep are being raised here.

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The Pecorino di Pienza is today mostly made with veal rennet; however the more traditional cheese makers still use rennet made from plants.

The raw milk used for the production of the Pecorino enters right away the cheese-making procedure.

After the coagulation with the animal or vegetable rennet the cheese is marinated with vinegar and salt or left to dry. Then the Pecorino is left to mature in humid rooms in the Caseificio (the Dairy). The wheels of cheese are covered with walnut leafs and intermittently moistened with Tuscan Olive Oil and covered with grease and wax.

The Pecorino di Pienza is superb when pared with Montalcino’s chestnut honey and Tuscan wine, especially Chianti and Vino Nobile.




Pienza - view
Pienza - WellPienza - Duomo - FacadePienza - Church - Side view

Pienza is part of the province of Siena, located in the Val d’Orcia, Tuscany.

Until the beginning of the 15th century the name of the town was Corsignano. Here was born Enea Silvio Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II. He was a Renaissance humanist that decided to have the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance one. The city was the first example of humanist urban planning projects. Many Italian and European cities later adopted this model.

The project was given to Bernardo Rossellino an architect from Florence; he was very popular at the time. In 1459 the rebuild started. Only three years later the Duomo was consecrated by the Pope.

The UNESCO declared Pienza a World Heritage Site in 1996 and 10 years later the Val d’Orcia became part of the UNESCO’s World Cultural Landscapes.

The most important buildings of Pienza are located in the central Piazza PIo II. Remodeling the old Corsignano’s piazza Rossellino had to give the new one a trapezoidal form in order to fit all the buildings he planned.

The principal Palace of the city is Palazzo Piccolomini; it is situated on the west side of Piazza Pio II. The building has a gorgeous internal court. From the loggia located on the back of the palace is possible to enjoy a stunning view of the Val d’Orcia.

Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who will become Pope Alexander VI, financed the construction of the Palazzo Vescovile. The palace was built to accommodate the Bishop who would spend time in the city to attend the Pope. Today the building houses the Diocesan Museum and the Cathedral Museum.

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The Duomo is one of the first examples of Renaissance Cathedral. However the bell tower resembles the German style. Pius II in fact, before he became Pope, had spent many years in Germany and had always admired the effects of light in the German churches.

When the village of Corsignano became the city of Pienza a town hall was required. The Palazzo Comunale was built right across the Duomo; probably Rossellino choose this location to separate the religious space dedicated to the Cathedral from the secular market square located right behind it. The Palazzo Comunale’s bell tower is shorter than the Cathedral’s to remind the population the church’s superior power.


Montepulciano - Piazza
Montepulciano - San Biagio  - from topMontepulciano - panoramaMontepulciano - SquareNobile MontepulcianoVino Nobile - vignetoVino Nobile - vineyard

Situated just southeast of Siena is a small medieval hill town by the name of Montepulciano, famous for its food and wine. Particularly, the town produces Vino Nobile, “noble wine”, which is a delicious red wine renowned the world over.

Originally an Etruscan settlement, it eventually became a small Roman town that served as a garrison for road patrols. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Montepulciano was ruled by the Lombards, who turned the town into a religious center. The town’s medieval period is marked by constant warring between the surrounding Republics and the local noble families. Montepulciano eventually flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries, with famous local architects such as Giacomo Barozzi and Baldassarre Peruzzi building palaces and other important structures, bringing great beauty to the town. Some of the main sights now are the Palazzo Comunale, the town hall designed in the same style as Florence’s, Palazzo Tarugi, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, also called the Duomo of Montepulciano.

Things to see

Today, Montepulciano is an important agricultural centre, focusing especially on the cultivation of Montepulciano grapes for the various wine productions in the area, the most famous of which is the Vino Nobile.
Nobile wine

The Vino Nobile is a rich red wine produced around Montepulciano, in Tuscany. It is composed primarily from the San Giovese grape which is cultivated in the vineyards around the town, and is listed under the DOCG label of quality.

The Vino Nobile has a bright ruby red color and a rich texture. Refined aromas of cherry and plum follow through to a full-bodied palate, with soft, round tannins and a flavorful finish.