Chiesa_di_San_Biagio

SHADES OF TUSCANY… cinema

In 1966, Montepulciano was chosen as the location for the film ‘L’Arcidiavolo’, directed by Ettore Scola, and in 1983, director Andrej Tarkovskij moved there to film ‘Nostalghia’. In 1999 ‘A Mid Summer’s night dream’, directed by Michael Hoffman was filmed there with Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett and Christian Bale. We also recall in 1996, the unforgettable cine-film ‘The English Patient’ directed by Anthony Minghella, with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. ‘The English Patient’ is one of the most awarded films in history, with 9 Oscars in 1997. For those who adore the genre of fantasy, 2009 saw the arrival of vampires, with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in the successful saga of ‘Twilight’; it was here that the Italian scenes of the episode ‘New Moon’ was filmed, and not in Volterra, as many believed.

(Plinio, Naturalis Historia, XXXVI, 13). In the underground section of this mausoleum, that Plinio claims to be under Chiusi, Porsenna had dug out an enormous maze, and then inside buried a golden chariot pulled by twelve golden horses. Together with this, he also buried a golden hen with five thousand chicks, also made of gold. Legend says that on certain nights, the hen comes out glowing, followed by a sea of small golden lights: it is Porsenna’s hen, taking its chicks out to feed in the fields and woods surrounding Chiusi

MONTEPULCIANO

The Etruscan origins of Montepulciano are visible thanks to the three protective walls around the town, even though the hamlet is Medieval. Between the years of the 1400 and 1500’s the hamlet exploded into its maximum social, artistic and cultural state, becoming the hometown for prominent people such as the famous Agnolo Ambrogini, known also as the Poliziano, Pope Marcello II, poets and architects, who all contributed towards the construction of churches and buildings that line the streets of this small town. This is a hamlet with a strong personal identity, where there are many stories of how it fought against Siena to maintain its autonomy. The decision to side with Florence is the reason behind how the historical centre had been influenced architecturally by the latter.

A further growth of the population, communication network and the reclaimed land of the Val di Chiana occurred during the domination of the Lorena family. Moving through the streets, we can reach the highest point and main square, Piazza Grande, the monumental heart of the town. Piazza Grande is adorned with numerous historical buildings and churches such as Palazzo Avignonesi del Vignola, the Church of Sant’Agostino, Palazzo Cervini del San Gallo, the House of Poliziano and the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi dating back to the 15th Century. One’s gaze is easily captured by the town hall, the Palazzo del Comune because of it’s incredible similarity to Palazzo Vecchio of Florence, we can lose ourselves in the beauty of Palazzo Contucci, designed by Sangallo, Palazzo Tarugi del Vignola and the particular well, Pozzo dei Grifi e dei Leoni. Just outside of the town’s wall, constructed on the side of the hill where Montepulciano rises, we will find the wonderful Tempio della Madonna di San Biagio an impressive and astonishing building designed by Sangallo il Vecchio.

pozzo-grifi-e-leoni

SHADES OF TUSCANY… myth & legend

An ancient legend tells us that Montepulciano was created by the Etruscan king Lars Porsenna. It suggests that he moved from Chiusi to the ancient hill of Mons Mercurius, followed by the people of Chiusi, and then later the name of the hill changed to Mont Politicus. Since its ancient past, Montepulciano has a history of wine, and as evidence of this, there is an ancient wine cup known as Kylix, production of Chiusi, found in 1868, together with numerous bronze objects in an Etruscan tomb. Painted on the cup is a representation of Flufluns, the Etruscan Bacco, god of wine, playing a game of cottabo together with a Maenad, where wine is the central part of the game.