Inhabitants in 1991: 5.088
municipal territory of Montalcino extends for 243,62 square kilometres
on the hilly heights which separate the valley of the river Ombrone from
the Val d’Orca. Free municipality, it became Seat of Captaincy
under the Mediceo Grand Duchy.
It is practically impossible to reconstruct the origins and formation
of the castle and the community of Montalcino: situated in territory on
which the Abbots of Sant’Antimo already had jurisdiction from
IX century (they were among the major feudal Lords of Siena until
the 1200s) it seems in all probability that the documentation regarding
the first centuries of its existence was lost in the archives of the Abbey.
Towards the end of the XII century Montalcino however was already constituted
in municipality allied to Siena (but straining to maintain autonomy
within its borders) in the war which Siena lost against Firenze; but in
consequence of the agreement, even though short lived, stipulated between
the two cities, at the beginning of the 1200 it was besieged and destroyed
The truce being over and Siena realising they could not maintain possession
of Montalcino because of the reopening of hostilities, in 1212 they tried
to again take away the jurisdictional rights which the Abbey of Sant’Antimo
still had over the castle, ending up by obtaining a quarter part of it.
Montalcino however, strengthened by the support of Firenze and Orvieto
soon began to be riotous against respecting the promise of loyalty and
alliance which tied it to Siena. In 1232 and again in 1252 Siena managed
to take over the entire castle; reconquered for a short time by the Fiorentini,
it returned under the Siena dominion after the battle of Montaperti, again
obtaining their autonomy in 1269. Only in the middle of the 1300s was
Montalcino placed in the territorial dominion of Siena and its inhabitants
became Siena citizens, while the fortress was rapidly constructed, symbol
of the power of the major city, its imposing structure is still visible
today. In 1462 Montalcino, together with Pienza obtained the institution
of diocese from Pio II. After the surrender of Siena to Cosimo I dei
Medici in April of 1555, it was at the still unconquered Montalcino that
the exiling Senese met and the castle became the centre of resistance
to the Imperial and Mediceo armies, capital of a non subjected territory,
Seat of Government and Council of the exiling Senese. It was only in 1559
with the ceasing of the protection by the King of France, that Montalcino
surrendered and swore allegiance to the Duchy of Firenze. In the
neighbourhood is the Magnificent Abbey of Sant’Antimo which is said
to have been founded by Carlo Magno.
It once flew the flag of the Sienese Republic, but despite the important
historical and artistic attractions of the town, Montalcino is
known throughout the world as the home of Brunello, an exceptional
wine that first saw the light of day in the middle of the 19th century
when Ferruccio Biondi Santi decided to use only Sangiovese grapes.
|Places to visit:
Piazza del Popolo, heart of the little town it is surrounded
by late Medieval buildings among which:
Palazzo dei Priori, from 1400 it has the façade covered
with coats of arms and is dominated by a tower in stone and brick.
The Fortress, constructed in 1361 using part of the preceding
walls, it is one of the main examples of Toscana fortresses. The interior
is utilised in the summer for spectacles and cultural events.
Combined Civic, Diocesan and Archaeological Museum, organised
in the convent complex of S. Agostino, comprising collections of paintings
on wood and an important collection of wooden statues painted in the
Siena school, and other works of various nature,
Cathedral, constructed on the place of the ancient parish church
of S. Salvatore, it was remodelled in the 1800s in Neoclassic style.
The interior holds important works of art and finds from the preceding
S.Agostino, imposing Romanic Gothic construction from 1300,
the interior is finely frescoed.
S. Antimo Abbey, around ten kilometres south of the town, in
a vast olive grove, looms this imposing and sever construction which
is said to have been founded in 781 by Carlo Magno. It is one of the
most prestigious examples of Monastic architecture. The church goes
back to the XII century.
Historical info reproduced upon authorization of
Regione Toscana - Dipartimento della Presidenza E Affari Legislativi e
Translated by Ann Mountford
Picture by Sandro Santioli