The Church of the Madonna of San Biagio, also known as the Temple of San Biagio, stands all by itself, just outside the historic centre of Montepulciano. Built by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder (1455-1534) it has a Greek-cross plan, copying the basilica of Santa Maria in Carceri in Prato.
Sangallo’s ambitious project was commissioned by Pope Leo X who had been taught by the great humanist scholar Agnolo Poliziano, also from Montepulciano. Construction began in 1518, with the building being completed however only some years after the great architect’s death.
The organ in the right-hand presbytery loft dates from 1781 and was built by Alamanno Contucci, Eleonora’s ancestor.
The Church of San Martino in Foro is a neoclassical structure built between 1841 and 1843 near the Eastern Gate of Sarteano (the Umbran Gate) to replace the Romanesque Church of the same name that stood on the main square, opposite the City Hall.
The church houses important paintings including: a Madonna and Child, known as the “Goldfinch Madonna”, and a polyptych of the Madonna of the Graces by Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio (1315/19 – before 1396), a Madonna and Child between Saints Rocco and Sebastian by Andrea di Niccolò (1440 – 1514) and the so-called “Sarteano Annunciation”, painted by Domenico Beccafumi (1486-1551) around 1546.
The Medici Fortress was built in 1261 by the Siennese and destroyed and rebuilt various times during the armed conflicts between Florence and Siena. The building was radically altered around the turn of the nineteenth century.
Palazzo Contucci is to be found in Piazza Grande, opposite the City Hall and alongside the Cathedral and Palazzo Tarugi. Started in 1519 by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder and commissioned by the Del Monte family (whose heraldic device is still visible on the right-hand corner of the building at first-floor level) it was probably completed by Baldassarre Peruzzi. The building rises above the remains of the earliest city walls, which explains the massive height of the back of the building. The first floor grand hall, opening onto the piazza, was entirely frescoed by Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709) in 1702. It is one of the few surviving examples of a profane cycle by the Jesuit from Trento, the undisputed master of Baroque illusionism.
The Church of San Bernardo is part of the architectural complex comprising the Conservatoire of Saint Jerome. The design of today’s Church, built in the very first years of the eighteenth century in substitution of a sixteenth-century Church whose plan was completely different, is attributed to Andrea Pozzo, given its similarity on a reduced scale to the elliptical centralized plan of the nearby and contemporary Church of the Gesù, whose architect was indubitably the Jesuit. Above the main altar can be seen a polychrome terracotta of the Adoration of the Holy Child attributed to the school of Andrea della Robbia and datable to1480- ’90.
Palazzo Ricci was commissioned around 1535 by Cardinal Giovanni Maria Ricci, a member of one of the oldest noble families in Montepulciano, from the celebrated architect Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481-1536). It remained in their family until 1970, when it became the Montepulciano City Hall, and then 2001 it was made available, for thirty years, to the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, which has made it into the headquarters of its European Academy for Music and Art.
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