Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy

Although Montepulciano is one of the most beautiful hilltowns in Tuscany, and especially so when viewed from the surrounding countryside, it does have a lot of tourists. Its main street, which connects the lower and upper areas of the town, has too much motor traffic to be a good painting location. It does, however, have some great places to paint if you know where to look. One of these locations is by the Porta de Grassi. The few streets around this zone have that magic three-part formula of:

  • Good light/shade pattern on the subject

  • Shade for the painter, which is really important in June, July and August

  • Little traffic and few tourists.

The trash collector who works in this area each morning is very interested in art and often stops to chat! From Montepulciano, you get beautiful long vistas of the Valdichiana valley. These views can be spectacular on a stormy day, reminiscent of a Turner landscape. Parts of the valley can be hit by sunlight with warm greens and ochres, while other areas are under cloud shadows in cool grays and blues, getting bluer in the distance as the vista recedes to the mountains of Umbria. A great place to get this view is from the Art Deco Caffé Poliziano.

I painted the "Madonna di San Biago", under the walls of Montepulciano. It is a beautifully architectured church in a lovely setting. Sunsets are particularly beautiful. A good place to stay is Montorio, an agriturismo just outside the old town. Although you have some traffic noise from the main Pienza/Montepulciano/Chianciano road, it is more than compensated for by its great location. Not only is it within walking access of the old town, but it has the advantage of being the best sunset painting location in Montepulciano. As a guest you have three options at sunset, from painting the sunset itself from outside your room, to painting the view of the beautiful church of San Biagio as the last rays of the sun catch the warm tones of the stone, to painting the golden orange/green of the sun on the hill of cypress trees just below the old town – simply magical. You have to book early to get this place though, since they only have five apartments.

Overall rating: *****
Aesthetics: *****
Accessibility: **
Tranquility: **
Variety: ****
Shade: ***

Map: Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy

This location contributed by:
Barry John Raybould