Locanda di San Francesco

Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy Book from Eur215

In the heart of wine-fabled Montepulciano, a converted medieval oratorio with 4 elegant rooms and views to die for
The views from this charming locanda are exactly what you want of a Renaissance hilltown: terracotta roofs, minaret chimneys, crumbling sandstone, sun-faded green and ochre paintwork, narrow lanes zig-zagging down to a patchwork of undulating fields studded with cypress trees. You can just see the lakes (Trasimeno, Chiusi and Montepulciano) in the distance. And the windows you look through are cut into the thick stonework of the ancient city walls.

Attached to the 14th-century church of San Francesco in the piazza of the same name, the building was once the seat and chapel of the Misericordia of Montepulciano. After years of neglect, it has been carefully restored by owners Cinzia Caporali and Luca De Nicolò, who also run the wine bar-bistro downstairs. There are just 4 spacious rooms, all overlooking the Val d’Orcia, the Val di Chiana, or both. Cross the piazza and you can look down on the dome of the church of San Biagio. Listen to the bells of the Palazzo Communale; smell the history. Medieval Tuscany is on your doorstep.

Highs

  • Above a wine bar, in an ancient church building, in the oldest, sunniest corner of Montepulciano? Beat that for location
  • The bistro serves superb food at reasonable prices, with a relaxed vibe and floor-to-ceiling racks of local wines to taste (and buy at a discount, if you book through i-escape)
  • You can ditch the car - at least for a day or 2
  • Stunning views from the rooms - all overlook Val d’Orcia or the Val di Chiana - and the best sunset in town at the bistro terrace
  • Cinzia and Luca are warm, hospitable hosts (Cinzia speaks excellent English)

Lows

  • There is no outside space - not unless you count the piazza and the wine-bar terrace
  • The bedrooms themselves are a bit of a letdown after the buzzy bar, but perfectly comfortable
  • With only 4 rooms, you need to book well in advance in high season
  • The wine bar - which is the heart and soul of this place - is closed for much of the winter

Best time to go

Spring, early summer (May-June) and autumn (September-early October) are the best times to visit. In midsummer (July-August), Montepulciano - like all of Tuscany’s medieval hilltowns - can be heaving and hot, though the bedrooms are cool, with thick walls and air-conditioning. Winter is cosy (the rooms are heated) but the wine bar-bistro is closed for most of the period from November to Easter.

Our top tips

If you're coming in summer, try and coincide with one the town's colourful festivals - our favourite is the Bravio wine barrel race in late August. There's also an Arts Festival in late July and, for Italian speakers, a Bruscello rhyming theatre show in mid August. Neighbouring Montalcino has its own theatre festival in late July, a live-music-and-dance bonanza in mid-August and a hunting inauguration on the 2nd Sunday in August, complete with medieval costumes, archery competitions, and street banquets.

Great for...

Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 4
  • Restaurant and bar (closed in winter)
  • Not really suitable
  • Closed: 10 Jan 2016 - 12 Feb 2016...
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The word antique springs to mind, and I mean really old fashioned: big hefty wardrobes, French polished beds, Regency stripes, silky sateens, gilded mirrors, beaded lamps, all in a muted palette of golds, creams, browns and terracotta. But it’s all beautifully done, with a lot of class and very little fuss; and though the look may be ultra-traditional, the facilities are bang up to date. There's air-conditioning, power showers, LED satellite TVs, DVD players and free WiFi. Plus, all the rooms are light and sunny with restored parquet flooring and great views.

One of our favourites is the Superior Room (Room 1) - not just for the imposing antique bed with its carved and panelled olive wood headboard, but for the dual-aspect view, one window looking down on the Piazza San Francesco and the Val d’Orcia, the other over the roofs of Montepulciano and the Val di Chiana.

Our other favourite is the Suite (Room 4) which features a gilded bed under an original brick arch, a kingsize Gothic bathroom and a spiral staircase leading up to a tiny stanza segreta, a secret room discovered during restoration between 2 stone walls that once formed part of the bell tower. A glass panel in the terracotta floor reveals the remnants of the tower’s access hatch.

There are also 2 Standard Rooms: Room 2 is decorated in tones of yellow and orange, with a beautiful hand-painted wardrobe, while Room 3 has a vast 19th-century bed.

The bathrooms are equipped with hairdryers, universal power points and toiletries. All the bathrooms (except Room 3) have windows with views.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Dvd player
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Served in an elegant, book-lined salon with a cross-vaulted ceiling, breakfast is a buffet of cereals, hams, cheese, eggs, fresh fruits, croissants, toast and jams, and unlimited tea/coffee/cappuccino.

E Lucevan Le Stelle ("And the stars shone"; a famous aria in Puccini's Tosca) is Cinzia and Luca’s wine bar, bistro and art space just downstairs - and the heart and soul of the Locanda. It runs as a separate entity but is handy for lunch or dinner with a glass of vino nobile di Montepulciano. A modern bar, with brick arches, high ceilings, art on the walls, low lighting and a terrace on the Piazza San Francesco, it offers an excellent European wine list by the bottle or the glass. Foodwise, the menu is good, old-fashioned Tuscan basics (salami, prosciutto, pastas with wild boar, hare or home-made ragu sauce, soups, salads, and cheeses), and there's occasional live jazz to entertain you. On our latest visit in 2013, we had a delicious light lunch of local cheeses, cold cuts and faggottini (pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese, pears and smoked chicken). Bear in mind that the bistro is closed for most of the winter.

If you want to eat out, Cinzia will point you in the right direction. Try La Grotta (outstanding tasting menus and very attentive service), Le Logge del Vignola, or Osteria dell’Acqua Cheta - all within walking distance.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the narrow streets and ancient squares of Montepulciano, the largest and highest of the classic Tuscan hilltowns

  • The Piazza Grande, one of the most photographed squares in hilltown Tuscany, is just a few hundred yards away. There you’ll find the 13th-century Gothic Palazzo Communale - whose bell tower you can climb for fab views of the Chiana and Orcia valleys

  • Sample a glass of 2 of Montepulciano’s famous red vino nobile at the Palazzo Contucci (or another cantina)

  • ….or ask your hosts at the Locanda to arrange a private tour and wine-tasting at the local Tenuta Valdipiatta vineyard and winery - run by Cinzia’s family

  • Visit the neighbouring hilltown of Pienza, a Renaissance jewel (and don't miss the 15th-century gardens of Palazzo Piccolomi) or Montalcino, Siena and Perugia, each a 45-minute drive

  • For visits to Florence or Rome, take a coach to Chiusi station and take the train

  • Learn the lingo: the town’s Il Sasso language school is one of the best in the country, with lessons for adults of all levels

  • Take a hike or a rent bike: follow quiet tracks over undulating hills to Pienza or Montichiello, or explore the Orcia valley and Monte Amiata

  • Sample the natural spas and hot springs of the area: Terme di Montepulciano is a 10-minute drive away, Terme di Chianciano 15, and Bagno Vignoni and Bagni San Filippo both 40 minutes

  • Montepulciano also offers yoga courses all year round, a mosaic school (100m from the Locanda), a music conservatory (50m from the Locanda) and a famous 18th-century theatre (Teatro Poliziano) which has shows all year round, and especially during the July Internazionale d'Arte Festival created by the composer Hans Werner Henze

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Language courses
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Yoga

Kids

Locanda di San Francesco isn't ideal for children due to the abundance of antiques and lack of outside space.
Children can only be accommodated in the Suite (Room 4), if the extra bed/baby cot is available - request when booking.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for Locanda di San Francesco