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MONTALCINO: a wine and food lover’s guide

Montalcino is a superstar wine region, fortuitously well off the beaten track. Unspoiled, with no motorway nearby, the most ubiquitous through-traffic is human-powered. Steady streams of pilgrims plod the ancient Francigena byway crossing Montalcino, heading south to Rome’s Vatican. Packs of Lycra-clad cyclists pedal themselves to exhaustion along the bumpy chalk byways of the Eroica (or ‘Heroic’) Route. And wine lovers come to taste the world’s most famed 100% Sangiovese red wines, the oak-aged Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, and its earlier-bottled, no-oak-needed sibling Rosso di Montalcino DOC.

‘Shielded by Monte Amiata, Montalcino is a warm, luminous, breezy spot’

Montalcino’s name derives from Monte Leccio (‘holm oak hill’). Evergreen oak forests cover more land here now than they did in 1860. They host roebuck, edible mushrooms, wild asparagus, truffles and wild boar: fare integral to a seasonal local food culture. Montalcino also produces renowned honey, with beekeepers from across Italy renting space here for their hives. Shielded by Monte Amiata, central Italy’s highest peak, Montalcino is

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