The name Montalcino first appears in a document of 814 A.D., and comes from the fact that thill where the city is located is covered in oaks, which were know by the name montalcino. The earliest settlements of Montalcino were established under the feudal tutelage of the monks. They spread in the communal period, into a municipality, acquiring considerable importance, both politically and in military means, this importance owes itself to its strategic position on the old Francigena Way, where pilgrims would pass on their long trek to Roma to see the Pope.
The existance of Montalcino was a struggle back and forth between the two massive poswers in Tuscany at the time Ghibellines and the Guelfs. The battle of Montaperti (1260) gave the victory to the Sienese, who planned to destroy Montalcino, but a few years later the situation changed once again; the Ghibellines were thrown out of Siena and the people of Montalcino signed a treaty of alliance with the Guelfs which guaranteed them substantial autonomy. In 1361, after an attempted rebellion the people of Montalcino were accorded Sienese citizenship. This was followed by a period of relative peace, during which their activities - pottery, tannery and leatherwork as well as the working of wool, wood and iron, flourished.
The economic ties with Siena strengthened and, in 1404 they acquired from Siena the right to levy taxes and in the following years, a whole series of fiscal exemptions which favoured economic development. In 1462 Pius II granted Montalcino the state of city and a bishop``s seat. Then once again: war. In 1526 and in 1553 the town was besieged, but was able to resist thanks to the efforts of the population.
The center of this small town is exemplary of the architecture of the late Middle Ages. Following the road across from the fortress you will find on via Ricasoli a gothic marble portal and a rose window that beautify the simple basic Romanesque facade of the Church of Sant`Agostino (thirteenth-century). Nearby, although it will soon be moved to the convent of the church of Sant`Agostino, you will find the Musei Riuniti (civico and Diocesano).
The museums contain pieces of outstanding art work such as a Wooden Cross painted in the twelfth of thirteenth-centuries by an unknown artist. It is one of the oldest Senese works. There are also an Angelo annunciate and a Madonna annunciata, two beautiful wooden sculptures from the early fifteenth- century, as well as a Saint Sebastian and a Madonna with Saints done in Robbian terracotta.
Famous for its postion in the land of Brunello and Vino Nobile, in fact their red, called vermiglio, played a small role in the siege of 1553 mentioned above. Legend has it that the garrison commander, pale with tension and hunger, rubbed it into his cheeks, thus simulating a healthy complexion to reassure his troops. Other traditions also include when in mediaeval times the nobility and the gentry would invite friends and neighbours to the hunts, a tradition which lives on today in the TOURNAMENT FOR THE OPENING OF THE HUNTING SEASON and the FEAST OF THE THRUSH. The TOURNAMENT which takes place on the second Sunday in August marks the beginning of what used to be the great hunting expeditions, while the FEAST OF THE THRUSH, on the last Sunday of October is the most important event of the hunting season.
VISIT OUR VILLAS FROM WHERE IS EASY TO REACH MONTALCINO: