Encountering the Middle Ages: The City of Montepulciano

Montepulciano, surrounded by such historical cities as Siena, Arezzo, and Perugia, lies in one of Europe’s richest cultural landscapes. Etruscan tombs and artefacts demonstrate the city’s early history which reaches back to 300 B.C. A document of 714 A.D. shows the city had thrived under the Romans and later during the epoch of the Lombards.

Thanks to its strategic position on a steep hill which commanded the valleys below, Montepulciano achieved its greatest renown during the Middle Ages.

During this period the cities of Siena and Florence fought each other for the control of the region. This conflict lasted for nearly three centuries from 1154 to 1511 and during this period control of the city continually passed from one to the other. The citizens of Montepulciano were known as Poliziani (after the famous poet Poliziano who was born here) allied themselves to Florence in 1202 in order to be protected from the expansionist policies of Siena. After the peace treaty of 1511 between Siena and Florence, Montepulciano was governed for once and all by Florence, though the city in modern times is administered from Siena.

Its connection with Florence shaped the politics of the tiny city and helped it to an economic upswing, with wine production being its most important source of revenue. Its Florentine roots also reveal themselves, however, in the city’s architecture. Most of Montepulciano’s architectural character was formed in the Renaissance and Late Renaissance.