MONTALCINO | TUSCANY
Famous for its Brunello di Montalcino red wines, this hill town, once part of Siena's empire, is worth a visit for its enoteca, housed inside the 14th-century fortezza at the edge of town (tel. 0577-849-211, www.enotecalafortezza.it). After sampling a glass of the local vino, wander down into the heart of town at Piazza Garibaldi. The TI is just off this square in the City Hall (daily 10:00–13:00 & 14:00–17:50, closed Mon in winter, tel. & fax 0577-849-331, www.prolocomontalcino.it).
WHAT TO SEE
Besides the fortezza and the Brunello, Montalcino's main sight is the Civic Museum on Via Ricasoli, where you'll find art from the late Gothic/early Renaissance period. Non-wine lovers may find Montalcino a bit too focused on vino, but one sip of Brunello makes even wine skeptics believe that Bacchus was onto something. Note that the Rosso di Montalcino wine is also good at half the price. Sweet-tooths will enjoy munching Ossi di Morta ("bones of the dead"), a crunchy cookie with almonds.
From Montalcino by Bus to: Siena (€3, 8/day, 90 min), Montepulciano/Pienza (10/day, change to line #114 in Torrenieri, 60 min plus changing time). Anyone going to Rome or Florence changes in Siena. The town bus station is on Piazza Cavour. Bus tickets are sold at tabacchi shops or the bar on Piazza Cavour — not on board. Check schedules at the Tourtist Office or the bus station on Piazza Cavour.