Montepulciano is a city famous for its Vino Nobile and Super Tuscan wines, with many great producers, but a visit to Cantina de Ricci is different. Not only is it right in the center of town just off Piazza Grande, it had been dubbed "the most beautiful wine cellar in the world." It is also called "the Cathedral of Vino" and you'll quickly see why.

The Ricci family was a prosperous and influential one in the Middle Ages whose status and wealth extended over the province. The Palazzo Ricci was built in 1534 by Cardinal Giovanni Ricci, who commissioned the noted architect Baldassarre Peruzzi of Siena, to design and construct the Renaissance monument at the upper reach of Montepulciano. The wine cellar was part of the original design, as the Ricci's extensive estates were known for its wine production.

Inside, the soaring brick cross vaults and nave-like ways resemble a Gothic cathedral, only here the barrels replace side chapels along the arched aisles. Down in the depths there is are crypt-like rooms with barrels instead of bones, where the wines are patiently tended to become great vintages.

A visit to this winery is a trip back in time, and a glimpse of the treasured tradition of Montepulciano wine-making, as well.

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Address in Montepulciano:

Via Ricci, 11.

Ph. (+39) 057 875 7166.

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