Last updated on October 14th, 2023
Our family loves the Montepulciano Mercatino di Natale (Christmas Market). We think it’s one of the best Christmas markets in Italy, and we gladly make the drive out to the Val d’Orcia to visit it.
It’s not just a market for families, though. We always see plenty of couples and groups exploring the town, wandering through the wooden market stalls, and sipping wine at the Christmas Terrace.
The market is set in the main square in town, Piazza Grande, and it’s full of wooden stalls selling local food products (like cinta senese sausage and pecorino cheese), wood products, clothing, handmade Christmas ornaments, candies, and toys.
Here are five tips that will help make your experience at the Montepulciano Christmas market smooth, fun, and memorable!
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Reserve Tickets to Santa’s Village
If you’re coming to Montepulciano with kids, don’t miss Santa’s Castle (Il Castello di Babbo Natale) – it’s our favorite place to see Santa in Tuscany.
You pay an entrance fee for both kids and adults (see the official site below for current rates and info), but it’s worth it because you don’t just sit on Santa’s lap and leave – there’s an entire route through the castle with stops including:
- A courtyard with ‘bubble’ snow
- Making cookies for Babbo Natale – Italy’s Santa Claus
- Seeing some of the reindeer (not real reindeer)
- Attending the elf workshop (and getting a diploma)
- A light display show
- Sitting in Babbo Natale’s sleigh
- Writing and mailing letters to Babbo Natale
- Meeting Santa and taking photos
Good To Know: The entire route takes about 45 minutes, and although it’s in Italian, some of the ‘elves’ speak English.
It’s a fun experience for everyone, and it’s very popular with families in the region, so it’s best to book your ticket in advance. You enter through a separate line, and you can go in at any point on the day of your ticket.
Strollers: You can bring your stroller if it’s not too busy; otherwise, there’s stroller parking inside the main entrance.
Good To Know: There’s a small playground in front of the fortress.
Good To Know: Just outside the castle, next to the playground, there’s an area set up with local and South Tyrol food for lunch, dinner, or snack time.
Park Close to the Action
Most of the town’s Christmas action is in Piazza Grande and the Fortress, which are both in the southernmost part of town, and the highest part of the town.
The closest parking lot is the (currently) free Parking Lot 8 (Il Bersaglio). It’s set below the town center, so you need to climb for about 200 meters to get to the town center. It will get your heart pumping, but once the climb finishes, you’re in the Christmas action!
Good To Know: The path from Lot 8 to the town center is not easy to climb with a stroller (we were able to get up the gravel path with our double-stroller but I was sweating at the top of the climb).
If you want to explore more of Montepulciano besides the Christmas area, you can park in one of the lots closer to the northern part of town. Then, walk through town uphill to Piazza Grande, where the Christmas Market is located.
Important: Don’t drive into the center if the ZTL (zona traffico limitato – limited traffic zone) is active (red light, or ‘attivo’).
Know Your Food Options
You’ll probably get hungry while visiting the market! You’ve got a few options:
- Snacks in the Mercatino – There are multiple stalls in the market with snacks like fresh soft pretzels, nuts, and candies.
- Ristoro by Santa’s Village – Next to the fortress, below the playground, there are multiple wooden stalls set up serving food from Tuscany and South Tyrol. We loved the würstel and sauerkraut, and the Chianina beef burgers.
- Restaurants in Town – Don’t forget that Montepulciano is home to some fabulous casual restaurants and enoteche (wine bars) that serve appetizers along with wines. Montepulciano has excellent pecorino cheese, Chianina beef, pici pasta, and tartufi (truffles).
Climb the Tower
Montepulciano’s mercatino di natale takes place in the main piazza – Piazza Grande.
For prime views of the market and the Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana, make the climb up the Torre Civico at the town hall in Piazza Grande.
It’s a short climb, and you can even do the first few flights of stairs in an elevator. After walking through the town archive room, you begin the climb up narrow steps. In some places you’ll need to watch your head, and I don’t recommend climbing with wiggly children as the railings have large spaces. This isn’t a climb for you if you’re claustrophobic.
Partway up, you can stop at the small terrace for nice views, and they get even better at the top. At the top of the tower, you can also see the enormous bell up close.
Fun Fact: Teens and young adults may recognize the town hall from a scene in the Twilight film.
Good To Know: If you’re coming with a stroller, you can leave it inside the town hall. But, this isn’t a climb to do with a baby carrier or baby backpack.
Helpful Tip: Don’t want to climb the tower, but still want an amazing view? Walk behind the comune (town hall – the building with the tower) to the left and at the end of the gravel parking lot, you’ll get a prime view of the countryside.
Sleep in Bagno Vignoni
Yes, Montepulciano is charming and beautiful and it has spectacular views, but sitting in the thermal baths of Bagno Vignoni in the chilly winter evening, staring up at the stars… you can’t beat that!
Bagno Vignoni is only 30 minutes (25 km) by car and the scenery is bellissima!
Good To Know: Winter is high season in Tuscan towns with hot springs, so reserve your hotel in advance.
Read our Guide to Bagno Vignoni!
How to Get to the Montepulciano Christmas Market
You can reach Montepulciano easily by car.
If you’re coming from Rome (from the south) on the A1 Autostrada, exit and pay your toll at the Chiusi-Chianciano Terme EXIT and follow signs for Chianciano Terme. Then, follow signs for Montepulciano.
If you’re coming from Florence (from the north) on the A1 Autostrada, exit and pay your toll at the Valdichiana-Bettole EXIT and follow signs for Torrita di Siena. Then, follow the signs for Montepulciano.
Read more about Day Trips from Florence with Kids
The closest airports to Montepulciano are
- Florence Amerigo Vespucci (FLR) – 120 km
- Pisa Galileo Galilei (PSA) – 175 km
- Rome Fiumicino (FCO) – 205 km
- Perugia San Francesco d’Assisi (PEG) – 75 km
Once you land, it’s easiest to drive a rental car to Montepulciano, but you could also hire a private driver (pricey) or use public transport (takes a long time, and there are multiple changes).
The closest main train station is in Chianciano Terme. From there you can take the bus to Montepulciano.
Or, take the regional train to Montepulciano Stazione (another town) and take a bus ride (15-25 min) to Montepulciano.
Read about Train Travel in Italy.
Montepulciano Christmas Market Info
Location: Piazza Grande, Montepulciano
Official Website: Natale a Montepulciano
Enjoy your visit to the Montepulciano Christmas market! Buon Natale!
Montepulciano Christmas Market FAQ
You can park your RV or camper in Piazza Pietro Nenni. It’s paid parking and the piazza must be cleared for the weekly Thursday market from 7:00am to 3:00pm.