Whether owned by townspeople or priests, among the houses, along the ancient walls, and at the foot of church bell towers, you can still find Montalcino’s “secret gardens”. The oldest of them are around the great Convents. The Sant’Agostino is at the city’s summit; Santa Caterina da Siena is roughly halfway down. The San Francesco convent is the lowest but boasts an incomparable view of Montalcino and its green interludes between streets and ancient buildings.

The city’s inhabitants tend to the gardens as their ancestors did in the past when they represented an almost inexhaustible source of supplies in times of wars and sieges. These pioneering urban gardens, still visible today, peaked in the Middle Ages and again in the early nineteenth century. There were as many as 250 gardens, all within the ancient walls of Montalcino.

 

They were planted with an incredible variety of plants, cultivated strictly according to the seasons and according to the fundamentals dictated by ancient wisdom. Quality and quantity were “measured”. Vines and olive trees, considered precious even then, were planted alongside fruit trees of all kinds: peach and cherry, apple, plums, pear, jujube, almond, and fig were the most common. Vegetables were planted under and around the trees and vines.

Whether owned by townspeople or priests, among the houses, along the ancient walls, and at the foot of church bell towers, you can still find Montalcino’s “secret gardens”. The oldest of them are around the great Convents. The Sant’Agostino is at the city’s summit; Santa Caterina da Siena is roughly halfway down. The San Francesco convent is the lowest but boasts an incomparable view of Montalcino and its green interludes between streets and ancient buildings.

 

The city’s inhabitants tend to the gardens as their ancestors did in the past when they represented an almost inexhaustible source of supplies in times of wars and sieges. These pioneering urban gardens, still visible today, peaked in the Middle Ages and again in the early nineteenth century. There were as many as 250 gardens, all within the ancient walls of Montalcino.

 

They were planted with an incredible variety of plants, cultivated strictly according to the seasons and according to the fundamentals dictated by ancient wisdom. Quality and quantity were “measured”. Vines and olive trees, considered precious even then, were planted alongside fruit trees of all kinds: peach and cherry, apple, plums, pear, jujube, almond, and fig were the most common. Vegetables were planted under and around the trees and vines.