All you need to know to plan a visit to Monticchiello, Italy, a small village in the heart of Tuscany, famous for its medieval town center and a unique theater tradition
Monticchiello is a pretty medieval village in Tuscany off the beaten path, literally!
Perched on a hill in Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, close to the popular towns of Pienza and Montepulciano, Monticchiello lies along a dust road meandering between golden colored rolling hills.
Its remote position means the town sees fewer visitors than its neighbors and the tall walls that still surround it make it a special place that feels out of time and a bit of a hidden gem.
However, Monticchiello is not a place that time forgot nor a place entirely undiscovered by tourism.
In summer, the town actually turns pretty popular thanks to one unique tradition: that of Teatro Povero (Poor Theater), an event that sees the village turn into an open air space for theatre performances!
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What is special about Monticchiello, Italy: the peculiar history of Teatro Povero
The story of the Poor Theater of Monticchiello (Teatro Povero di Monticchiello), starts in the late 1960s and precisely in 1967.
At the time, the community was impacted by signficant changes in the organisation of rural work in the area and came up with an idea of a community project that allowed its inhabitants to come together, reason over the changes and their effects, share considerations, fears and hopes.
The project took the shape of theatrical performances, brought to life by Monticchiello’s inhabitants and acted out in the public spaces of the village, which turns into a living stage.
The performances, by nature, have a strong participatory approach and alternate narrative meta-theater moments with dialogue with the audience, who sits in the city steets and piazzas effectively being on stage with the performers.
This form of theater was defined by theatre director Strehler as a form of ‘autodramma’, a definition the community loved and adopted.
The performances happen every summer.
When they are on, the houses of Monticchiello turn into the backdrop and scenography to these performances and the piazzas fill with chairs allowing the audience to immerse themselves in a 360 degree theatre experience where actor, character and audience come together.
You can find more fun and interesting facts about Tuscany here.
What to see in Monticchiello
Monticchiello is one of the best preserved medieval villages in Tuscany.
It is a tiny village with a couple of important landmarks and many pretty streets and piazza where to rest and relax.
Its original structure seems to date back to Roman times, but it is only in the Middle Ages that of Monticchiello as we see it now takes shape.
A stronghold of the power of Siena, Monticchiello was on a valuable crossroads that quickly made the town acquire tall walls, a mighty gate, and a pretty church, all still visible today.
The main things to see in Montichiello are vestiges of that time.
The mighty Medieval gate
The first thing worth of notice when entering Monticchiello are the city walls.
They date back to the 1200s and have a tall tower and gate with a ponty arch, the main entrance to the town.
The gate is still the main entrance to the town but rather than being a defense feature, it is now the backdrop to a pretty (and upscale) restaurant, Osteria La Porta!
In the shade of its arches you can now sit and taste local specialties while you watch the town life pass by.
Pieve dei Santi Leonardo e Cristoforo
Inside the town the most impressive building is the Pieve dei Santi Leonardo e Cristoforo (church).
The church dates back to the 1200s and has a plain yet beautiful Romanesque Gothic façade with a beautiful portal and large round window.
Inside there are some interesting frescos and ciborium worth seeing. The church is typical of the architecture of this area and somewhat reminiscent of the churches in San Quirico d’Orcia, also nearby.
The village pretty streets
Lamdmarks aside, what is pretty in Monticchiello are the small steets and elaborate medieval homes now immaculately kept and decorated with flowers and climbers.
Monticchiello alleys are so pretty, we believe this is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
The panoramic terrace
The other thing not to miss in the Monticchiello is the panoramic view just outside the main medieval gate.
As you leave the town, the hill sof Val d’Orcia roll out in front of you offering one of the mosy quintessentially Tuscan landcsapes you can ever wish for!
In front of Monticchiello, the hill with Pienza is visible and you can see the distinctive shape of Pienza’s bastions and duomo from the distance.
Where to eat and sleep in Monticchiello
Monticchiello has several restaurants, two on the main square and managed by the Theater cooperative, Taverna di Bronzone and Il Bronzino and a third one with a more upscale atmosphere is right at the gate, the already mentioned Osteria la Porta.
A café and ice cream place is at the town entrance .
All the restaurants offer traditional Tuscan food and are proud of a strong connection to the territory, that you can see in the choice of local seasonal ingredients and traditional dishes (some however with a modern take!)
Monticchiello is surrounded by many beautiful agriturismo and country houses open to guests.
Most are in the countryside surrouning the town: having a car here is a must.
I highly recommend you stay in the wonderful Terre di Nano, agriturismo, winery and farm nearby or you can select rooms in the village itself. Have a look at B&B Daria Monticchiello and La Casa nel Borgo.
Practical tips for visiting Monticchiello Tuscany
Monticchiello is in the Province of Siena, close the beautiful towns of Pienza, which you can see from Montichiello’s panoramic terrace, and Montepulciano.
The road to the village is a half paved half white road but it is well kept and easy to drive on a standard vehicle. The town is closed to general traffic and there is a parking just outside, free.
The town develops on a hill and you access it via rather steep streets which can be challenging if you have mobility issues or if you are visiting with a stroller.
If you are here with a baby, this is a good day to use a carrier!
If you have older kids, you will find this is one of the best places to visit in Italy with little children as it is car free and contained, so they can have some freedom without being out of sight.
Overall however, the town is easy to visit: if you are staying inside the town, do ask your accommodation about accessibility as some areas may have steps.
To reach Monticchiello you need a car and you must consider carefully the driving logistics should your accommodation not offer dinner on site.
Since the roads can be dangerous here, we do recommend you either stay in town walking diustance from a restaurant or opt for one of the beautiful agriturismo in the area with restaurants onsite so you can avoid getting on the road at night.
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to Monticchiello Italy and it helped you plan your trip to this unique Tuscan village. Safe travel planning!