The Temple of San Biagio - back to former splendour

The church of San Biagio against the backdrop of Montepulciano
The temple of San Biagio seen from the Pienza - Montepulciano road
Tuscany has countless churches in incredible locations. But some stick out and leave a mark, even if you're the 'seen one church, seen them all' type of person. Montepulciano's temple of San Biagio is one of them. It's hard not to drive off the road when noticing it for the first time while approaching Montepulciano on the road from Pienza. Over the years, I've observed many a hazardous manoeuvre by tourists trying to get a pic of San Biagio taking a sunset bath during golden hour (and am guilty of some of them myself).

Whether you pull over on the road from Pienza or look down onto the church from Montepulciano's town walls, San Biagio looks incredible from every angle and in front of every backdrop. No doubt, Tuscans know how to choose a scenic location but its thanks to the genius of Renaissance architect Antonio da San Gallo the elder that the church stands out like no other while at the same time fitting perfectly into the landscape.
The temple of San Biagio seen from Montepulciano's town walls
Temple of San Biagio seen from Montepulciano's town walls

But nothing is perfect. During the last decade, after approaching the church via the elegant cypress-lined road, one couldn't but feel a little disappointed by the interior of the stately temple. The warm feeling of the travertine facade lit up by the Tuscan sunlight vanished once over the doorstep. Antonio da San Gallo's design for the interior had never been entirely carried out and over the centuries the walls had been stripped off the paintings and altars adorning them. The mould and stains left behind created a bleak and eery contrast to the glowing exteriors.

San Biagio church with Montepulciano in the background

Luckily, things have changed. Just in time for its five hundred years anniversary, the church has been diligently restored and brought back to former splendour. And an accompanying exhibition has been set up recounting the temple's history and the changes carried out over the centuries (no idea whether it includes the list of related car accidents too).

The cupola of the San Biagio temple


Opening times of the church and the exhibition of San Biagio's history and restoration:

April 22 - May 31: 10am - 6pm

June 1 - September 30: 9.30am - 6.30pm

October 1 - 31: 10am - 6pm

November 1 - 4: 10am - noon / 3pm - 5pm

Tickets: € 3,50 (including a free audioguide in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian). Free entrance for children up to 6 yrs.

How it used to be - a drawing of Montepulciano's San Biagio church

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