Medieval Montefalco in Italy is known for its ancient buildings, hilltop views and crisp, delicious wine. We’ve picked the best things to do here to make your visit go down as smoothly as the famous red from the region.
Known as “the railing of Umbria” for its lofty position, with hilltop views that range from Perugia to Spoleto, Montefalco is a small town with a lot to offer. It’s famous not just for its views but also for its fresco-filled churches, Medieval lanes and endless green valleys, thick with vineyards – and, on that note, for its sagrantino wine and wonderfully earthy cuisine, too. We’ve tried it all to bring you the very best this Italian charmer has to offer.
This imposing Catholic church and Franciscan monastic complex, built in a gothic style between 1335 and 1585, is, in some ways, typical of the solid Medieval architecture you’ll find throughout Umbria. What’s not so typical, however, is what you’ll find inside: frescoes of Scenes from the Life of St Francis, painted by Benozzo Gozzoli, and considered some of the most important works of their kind dating back to the Renaissance. And don’t miss the ancient wine cellars of the Conventual Friars – there are no more bottles, but the atmosphere is heady enough.
The history of this family winery dates to 1919, when three brothers established their revolutionary business on the ground floor of the San Marco Hospital. Back then, the Cantina produced white and red wines but was better known for its Sagrantino Passito, a delicious dessert wine. You’ll get a palpable sense of the heritage of this winery as you tour the vineyards and sample the product. Go on, buy a couple of bottles to bring home.
Organic wines don’t always have the best reputation, but the vino bottled at this traditional, family-run winery and olive oil mill, is exceptional. Here, you can sign up not just for special guided vineyard tours and wine-tasting sessions but also tuck into some local food, too. After you’ve had your fill, take a digestive postprandial through the rows of sagrantino vines and centuries-old olive groves.
On a verdant hillside outside Montefalco, Colle Ciocco winery and vineyard offers not just fantastic wines, but stupendous views over its vineyards and Medieval towers, castles and cities, from Spello to Spoleto. You’ll find more than the usual sagrantino grapes here, too. The winery also grows the local white trebbiano spoletino grapes, which produce the intensely fruity Tempestivo. It also produces a variety of olive oils, from fiore (flowery) to fruttato (fruity) and gentile (gentle).
The Paolo Bea Winery estate is one of the finest wine producers in Italy, with a history dating back to the 16 century. Since the winery is still following ancient winemaking techniques, including artisanal harvesting and a strict “no chemicals or pesticides” rule, you’ll find complex, organic wines here, such as Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco, Montefalco Rosso Riserva, both dry, and one of the most cherished Italian wines, Paolo Bea Sagrantino Passito.
You won’t find many buildings in the region much older than the Duomo in Montefalco, a Medieval parish church that dates back to 1229. It has been renovated and enlarged several times over the course of its history, the last time in the 1600s. Inside, you’ll find such treasures as a frescoed baptismal font and a 17th-century wooden statue portraying the Risen Christ, kept inside a beautiful old wooden chest.
Piazza del Comune is the central square in Montefalco, occupying the prime spot at the top of the town. From here, cobblestone streets run like rivers all the way downhill to the town gates, leading to unexpected little viewing points where you can look out over acres of vineyards. Before you take off, though, spend a little time soaking up the chit-chat of local life, with an espresso or glass of wine at one of the little outdoor cafes and wine bars.
Better known as Porta San Bartolomeo, this stone archway (behind the church of Saint Bartholomew) might not look like much initially, but place your hands on it, and you’re travelling back over 750 years to 1233. It’s part of the town’s original defensive walls, in place since around the time the town as it appears now was built. And it’s not alone – there are others, too, including Porta di Camiano and Portone di Santa Maria, or the Big Gate of Holy Mary.
After a day of exploring, head back to one of the best hotels in Umbria, now bookable with Culture Trip. Discover nearby cities like Perugia – with mouthwatering restaurants and hotels ready to book – or see what there is to do in Assisi and Florence.
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