The municipality of Montepulciano, which is at 605 m asl of altitude, is in the province of Siena and it has a population of about 13000 inhabitants. The origins of Montepulciano date back to the Roman period and here one can admire the Dome, St. Francis’s, St. Agnes’s and St. Maria delle Grazie’s churches as well as St. Bernardo’s Oratory, the Theatre and the Poliziano’s House.
Two elements favoured the demographic growth and the development of Montepulciano in the Middle Ages.
Firstly, the hill where this chief town rises is set at the crossing of two important ancient ways: one that links Chiusi to Arezzo and the other that crosses the Val d’Orcia and goes down to the Val di Chiana and to the Trasimeno River. Secondly, its strategic importance is enhanced by the intermediate position of the town which is near the borders with Orvieto, Perugia, Siena and Florence.
Since the year 1000, Montepulciano has been considerably benefiting from its geographical position by playing with alliances and gathering much wealth alternately selling its services and allegiance to the other large cities until it conquered a considerable local autonomy. At the same time Montepulciano became a much desired prey to all the other powers and the fights for its control were many and very harsh.
If in the Middle Ages Montepulciano was a rich and powerful city, its prestige started to decline in the Modern Age. In the year 1511 it was annexed by Florence. During this period, the majority of the architectural works that enrich its historical centre were developed and Montepulciano also was declared a diocese (1561), but at the same time its local economy started a slow declining phase.
In the XVIII century, during the Lorrains period, the sovereigns of the Grand Duchy expressed their worries about the impoverishment of the area.
The city experienced a new politically important period in the XIX century, becoming the main administrative centre in the Val di Chiana where some reclamation works had been ordered by the Lorrains and continued after the Italian Unity. Nevertheless, also this epopee was destined to decline.
After World War II, the country people of the valley moved northward to find a job in factories. Although this area is not undergoing the industrial development that was Tuscany’s lucky in other places, Montepulciano remains a historical and an artistic centre of great interest.