The origins of Montalcino

Montalcino, a relatively new town, was first settled just before or just after the year 1000, and its origins are uncertain. Legend says it was established by the Bishop of Roselle, near Grosseto, who led his people to take up residence in Montalcino and Massa Marittima after fleeing incursions by Saracen pirates – but it is more likely that it was built by monks associated with the Abbey of Sant’Antimo. Curiously, the first written mention of the town recalls both its wine-producing destiny and the Saracens who, as legend has it, drove the inhabitants to flee up here – in his geography book dated 1154, the Arab geographer and cartographer, Muhammad ad-Idrisi, calls it Mun al Quin, or Mount of Wine.