Pienza is a tiny village in southern Tuscany in the beautifual valley called Val d’Orcia we highly recommend you visit. The village is located about 20 kilometers east of Montalcino and a few kilometers to the west of Montepulciano amidst gentle undulating hills and wonderful natural landscapes. Pienza enjoys a strategic position standing high atop a hill, dominating all the Orcia Valley with extraordinary views.
This charming village is widely known as the “ideal city of the Renaissance”, the creation of the great humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II. Piccolomini had the money and influence to transform his birthplace village, the humble Corsignano, into what he considered the Utopian city should be, exemplifying the principles and philosophy of classical times and of the great Italian Renaissance. Thus, Pienza became the realization of a dream!
The project was designed by the architect Bernardo “il Rossellino” under the guidance of the great humanist Leon Battista Alberti. In only 3 years, a group of amazing and harmonious buildings were completed: the Cathedral, the Papal or Piccolomini Palace, the Town Hall, and the lovely central square onto which all of these buildings look upon.
Piazza Pio II has a perfect harmonious shape which gives great dignity and solemnity to all of the surrounding buildings built in bright travertine stone. On one side of the square, you can admire a beautiful well, known as the “well of the dogs”.
The Duomo or Cattedrale dell’Assunta hosts very fine paintings by the most renowned artists of the period, while the octagonal bell tower standing over the ancient crypt with the same octagonal shape points to the sky. Both dominate the landscape as you view Pienza from afar.
The imposing Palazzo Piccolomini to the right of the Duomo has a fantastic Loggia with a delightful hanging garden from which you can enjoy unique and breathtaking panoramas of the Val d’Orcia Valley, from Montalcino to the Mount Amiata. Palazzo Piccolomini was even used by Franco Zeffirelli for filming some scenes of his famous and romantic movie Romeo and Juliet, in which it represented the location of the first encounter between the two lovers at the Capulets’ home. Read more about the Palazzo Piccolomini and visiting information here.
The impression one gets, walking through the narrow streets of Pienza, is that of an extremely perfect and proportioned ensemble; somewhat as if you were admiring a Renaissance city depicted in a wonderful painting.