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Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Elizabethville...
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Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Hi folks - so I will be spending two nights in Montepulciano from 7/13 to 7/15 as part of a longer solo Italy trip, highlighted by a week long cooking school outside Arezzo starting the 15th. I will not have a car, relying simply on public transportation because I don't have the guts to go it alone by car. :)

The reason for the stay in Montepulciano is definitely wine, so I'm trying to decide if it's enough to just focus on the wineries with cellars right in town, or if I should take at least one trip out of town. It looks like Strada del Vino Nobile does fairly reasonable tours outside of the city to two wineries for 3 hours, or should I just book tastings at the many amazing looking places in town? I will be visiting at least 1 winery during my cooking school stay as well, if that makes a difference.....any experiences/insights are appreciated, thanks so much!

Sue.

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Province of Siena, Italy
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1. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Perhaps Latsraniera can weigh in here but if I recall correctly, I think there were many more local wine shops in Montaclino vs Montepluciano. However, both towns would be a nice place to base for a few days as would be the countryside but IMO you need a car to base outside of a village.

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2. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

I would recommend a wine tour if you don’t have your own car. Not because there isn’t enough wine to drink in town in two days (there is!) but it also gets you out into the countryside which is stunning. I’d do one day wine tour. If they have a tour that gets you over to Montalcino all the better. The drive from Montepulciano to Montalcino is stunning and the wines are different than those in Montepulciano. It will be worth it to you to compare them.

For your day “in town” there are lots of cantinas you can visit and you may also want to do a gourmet tour with a guide to go the cantinas if you want to learn about the history of the town and about the wines. If you simply want to drink the wine, you will not work hard to find opportunities.

In the evening try to get over to Lucevan le stelle wine bar for a drink on the terrace especially at Sunset. It’s lovely and they are knowledgeable about the wines.

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3. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

P.S. do you know on public transport you will take the train to Chiusi? And then there is a bus to take you to Montepulciano. It is about 50 minutes. The schedule on Sunday isn’t great. Ask at your hotel for advise on arriving.

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4. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

The Strada del Vino Nobile tours receive very good reports plus they are well priced, I would definitely sign up for one of those, and you’ll meet people too, I'm told they're fun. In addition, as already pointed out, cantinas offering wine to buy / taste are practically shoulder-to-shoulder now in Montepulciano on not only the main corso but side streets as well. It used to be the case that people wrote off Montalcino as being nothing more than one enormous wine merchants but the mix of retail there today is far better, I feel, than in Montepulciano where locals fear for the loss of more useful stores to yet another wine shop. You'll be spoilt for choice.

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5. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Thank you so much for your input, I am already booked in Montepulciano for the two days, loved the idea of the idyllic hilltop town with the wine. I'm not seeing a lot of tours to Montalcino from Montepulciano plus I don't want to spend too much money. It's so hard to choose how to spend a short amount of time, arriving in town from Orvieto after noon and then need to get out on what looks like the only bus at 10 am Sunday (I do know about needing to get the bus from Chiusi). I think I'll do some local cantinas on arrival Friday, then decide about a short tour on Saturday, or maybe a walk down to the church of San Biagio and onward to Canneto which might give me the country vineyard experience a bit. Any of the in-town wineries absolute musts?

And while I have the experts, can I ask about restaurants? Thinking definitely Osteria del Borgo one night on the terrace, and then debating between Rosso Rubino and Acquachetta. I liked the latter for the steak but not sure if that will work as a single. Thanks again!

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6. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Susan, this already sounds like a good plan. There are two places in town that my visitors really like; the Cantina Contucci on Piazza Grande https://www.contucci.it/en/ with the old cellars (and very good wines, we buy a lot from this estate) and Gattavecchi http://www.gattavecchi.it/en which you could sort of take in on your way down or, better perhaps, way back from San Biagio.

Re restaurants, Osteria del Borgo is a good choice and most tourists really enjoy Acquachetta. It will work fine there for you as a single, don’t worry.

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7. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Aquachetta has a very lively yet cramp atmosphere. It is all communal tables so you will definitely be seated with Others. Some feel more comfortable on their own in that enviroment, others less so. It depends on your style.

If your question is specifically about eating the steak on your own, it is really quite large: more for 2-3 people. I think last year ours was about 60 euro. It is sold by weight. It is a fair price for 2-3 ppl sharing but a bit steep on your own especially since you will most likely not finish it unless you are a serious meat eater and arrive very, very Hungry. For one person he may be able to cut you a slightly smaller piece but only Slightly.

Please report back on Osteria del Borgo. It is on my list for next time.

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8. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

We really liked the wine at Talosa.

The underground cellars are really cool.

Elizabethville...
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9. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Thank you all so much again, those 3 wineries mentioned were all ones that were definitely on my list so I will make them my first priorities.

The size of steak was definitely my concern at Acquachetta, not the communal tables, that would be fine. I love the idea of eating the steak but it seems like a waste as a single - I can eat, but not pounds of steak on my own. And I always get concerned at the 'most tourists really enjoy' comment, lastraniera. :) I'd rather find someplace less touristy, anywhere else you like that's in town? Or I can ask my hosts at La Corte Medicea, I know there's a restaurant there but it didn't look all that special. Or possibly a light meal at Luceven or one of the other wine bars, that one was already on my radar to hit. Too many choices and too little time!

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10. Re: Wineries - stay in town or travel outside?

Coming in July, all restaurants up in the old town of Montepulciano will be packed to bursting point with tourists, that's impossible to avoid. And it saddens me to say that with the increased number of tourists we've seen in the course of the last ten years, so the standard of food and even service in so many old favourites has gone down to the point that, along with our local friends, we rarely if ever eat in the town, we far prefer the country villages. I'll give you an example. A place we used to eat at fairly often with local friends just off Piazza Grande now has signs outside in English (note only in English) boasting about the quality of its produce so what does that say to an Italian speaker? It indicates who their target audience is, no? Inside downstairs at the Osteria Al Borgo used to be a terrific place to mingle with older locals at lunchtime, the prices were unbelievably good value (my husband used to reckon it was as cheap to eat there as it was at home), the quality of the produce and the portion size superb. Yet with the expansion upstairs, almost overnight that changed in subtle ways. Visiting briefly this may not even register and I'm sure most tourists still find it very charming but the town today, especially from May to September, is quite a different place to what it was even seven or eight years ago.

Edited: 02 November 2017, 16:32
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