Montepulciano and its area
The municipal area of Montepulciano,
which covers 165m² at an altitude of 605m, has a population of about 14,000, about one-third of whom live in the town itself. This is the largest municipality of the ten which make up the Sienese Valdichiana zone. It was certainly populated in the Etruscan period, as demonstrated by recent discoveries of building materials dating back to the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. on the hilltops. Local legend claims the presence of a villa on this site, owned by King Porsenna.
The town itself
has only been known by the name of Mons Politianus since 715. It was definitively organized as a town in the late 13th century when the local area underwent a transformation: the Valdichiana became marshland and communications moved westwards. The development of the town was especially significant for the two powerful communes of Siena and Florence, for whom possession of Montepulciano would ensure control of Valdichiana and Val d' Orcia. Indeed, Florence and Siena came to blows many times over possession of Montepulciano. In 1232 the Sienese managed to take the city by razing its walls to the ground. From then on, for about three centuries, Montepulciano alternated between Florentine and Sienese dominion while within the town itself the upper middle class – traders, manufacturers and farmers – were founding their wealth and power on trade and commerce. During the 15th century the influence of Florentine rule is clear in political and governmental trends and also in the architectural and town development features.
The importance of the town of Montepulciano
was emphasized when it was made a bishopric in 1561. From the mid-18th century the town underwent a slow process of requalification during the Lorraine-imposed programme to reorganize the Valdichiana area. However, it was the draining and reclamation of the Valdichiana which had the most definitive effect on the town’s function, creating a new network of roads on the plains connecting Arezzo, Foiano, Bettolle, Chiusi (1835).
Throughout the 19th century Montepulciano
established itself with increasing confidence as an agricultural market and centre for the transformation of farm produce. This is demonstrated by the presence of the Sericultural Plant (1869) in the Rocca, and the School of Agricultural Practice (1882). From the early 20th century onwards production activities and residences began to move along the roads outside Montepulciano towards Chianciano-Chiusi, creating a consequent transformation in the function of the town. The old centre is still used today for prestigious functions, like local administration, and representative institutions like banks, insurance, public administration and offices. Between the late 20th and early 21st century there was significant restoration and promotion of farm properties, public and private buildings in the town centre, and countless cellars and properties to be used for sales of Vino Nobile and improving opportunities for tourists.
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