Pienza is a wonderful village that lies on a hill dominates the Val d’ Orcia at about 490 amsl. The small city is approximately 50 km from Siena and is reachable travel along the Cassia until San Quirico d’ Orcia and then following the indications for Pienza.
Another road that you can use is the Siena-Bettolle exit in Sinalunga and continuing for Torrita di Siena and then for Pienza. Pienza was included in 1996 in the list of world heritage sites by UNESCO.
Originally called Corsignano, it must its aspect to the will of Pope Pio II, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, and to the work of Bernardo Gambarelli said the Rossellino. The future Pope Pio II in fact was born in Corsignano-Pienza in 1405 and when he was elect Pope in 1459 decided to embellish his home-village.
In 1462 the Pope visited the city, where the works were in advanced phase, and in August of the same year nominated it a city with the name of Pienza. At the dead of Pio II, in August 1464, the works that were not still finished, were abandoned. It was therefore that Pienza became, even if unfinished, the only example of planned city of 15th century, its plan is rectangular. The more important palaces are in square Pio II: the Cathedral, Palazzo Piccolomini, the Communal Palace, the Episcopal Palace and Palazzo Ammannati.
Pienza is situated in a dominant charming position in the Val d’ Orcia, making the round of town walls the sight spaces on wonderful panoramas. In particular two points are noteworthy: the stretch of the walk that goes towards the Cathedral from which overlooks the Val d’ Orcia and the side where are the two circular towers from where is the most beautiful panorama towards the Tresa Torrent and the village of Monticchiello.
Now we continue the visit in the main square of Pienza, Piazza Pio II, that deserves its own page.
PIAZZA PIO II
The monumental center of Pienza is the Piazza Pio II, living example of the utopian ideal city designed by humanists architects of the fifteenth century. The square contains all the main buildings of the village, the Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace, the Palazzo Piccolomini, Municipal Palace, the Palazzo Ammannati and a fine 15th century well.
The highlight of the square is the facade of the Cathedral of the Assunta, that was built between 1459 and 1462. While the rest of the building is in tufa, the facade is in travertine with a double order of columns and three portals. In the great tympanum is the coat of arms of Pio II. The inside is with three aisles and contains five tables of the 15th century senese artists of an altar attributed to Bernardo Rossellino.
To right of the Cathedral is Palazzo Piccolomini, the more important palace of Pienza, masterpiece of Bernardo Rossellino, it was built between 1459 and 1462. It represents a copy of Palazzo Rucellai in Florence planned from the same Rossellino, it has a square plan, flat ashlar-work with pillars of Tuscany order and two floors of double mullioned windows. Inside of the palace there is a beautiful square courtyard with loggia and a garden with beautiful panorama on the Val d’ Orcia. To an angle of the palace it’s the 15th century well with two columns with capitels.
To the left of the Cathedral is the Episcopal Palace or Borgia, that it has two floors of Guelph windows and was restructured from the cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (future Pope Alexander VI). On the opposite side of the square in comparison to the Cathedral are the Communal Palace (with porch of ionic order, with a floor to four double mullioned windows and a beautiful tower finished in 1599) and Palazzo Ammannati.
Weekly Market in Pienza: Friday
Ex Foro Boario – Via Mencattelli
Tourist Information Office – Pienza
Corso Rossellino, 30 Tel. e Fax 0578749905
- AA. VV. “Toscana” Guide Rosse Touring Club Italiano, 2007
- Finelli Luciana, Rossi Sara “Pienza, tra ideologia e realtà” 1978, Dedalo
- AA. VV. “Pienza, Monticchiello, La Foce e la Val d’Orcia” 2012, KMZero
- Sordini Beatrice “Breve storia di Pienza” 2009, Pacini Editore