We start our guide to Pienza with the fact that this little town is known as the “ideal city of the Renaissance”, the creation of the great humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II. The town lies on the top of the hill in the middle of breathtaking valley of Orcia and between the towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino. Both Pienza and Val d‘Orcia are UNESCO heritage sites. Our guide to Pienza includes main sightseeings and things to do in Pienza and its surroundings. Let‘s start knowing Pienza, the ideal city!
Piazza Pio II. The main attraction of the town, this square is living example of the utopian ideal city designed by humanists architects in the XVth center. In the square you can admire all the main buildings of Pienza (more information about them read below).
Palazzo Piccolomini. The trapezoidal piazza is defined by four buildings. Noteworthy is the internal court of the palazzo. The back of the palace, to the east, is defined by loggia on all three floors that overlook an enclosed Italian Renaissance garden and spectacular views into the distant landscape of the Val d’Orcia and Mount Amiata. Palazzo Piccolomini was even used by Franco Zeffirelli for filming some scenes of his famous and romantic movie Romeo and Juliet.
The Duomo (Cathedral), which dominates the center of the piazza, has a facade that is one of the earliest designed in the Renaissance manner. Though the tripartite division is conventional, the use of pilasters and of columns, standing on high dados and linked by arches, was novel for the time. The bell tower, however, has a Germanic flavor.
Palazzo Vescovile. Palazzo Vescovile, on the third side of the piazza, was built to house the bishops who would travel to Pienza to attend the pope. Its construction was financed by Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (the future Pope Alexander VI but, at the time, Vatican Vice-Chancellor). It is now home to the Diocesan Museum, and the Museo della Cattedrale.
Palazzo Comunale. Across from the church is the town hall, or Palazzo Comunale. It has a three-arched loggia on the ground floor facing the Cathedral and above it is the council chamber. It also has a brick bell tower that is shorter than its counterpart at the cathedral, to symbolize the superior power of the church.
Things to do
Pienza is the perfect base place to know better marvelous valley of Val d’Orcia. You can rent a car and spend a day exploring:
Towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano for their good red Tuscan wines.
San Quirico d’Orcia for its medieval spirit.
You should also explore the small medieval village of Monticchiello.
Bagno Vignoni for its hot springs.
Radicofani and its castle.
San Giovanni d’Asso for its truffles in the fall.
Enjoy magnificent views of the Val d’Orcia and Crete Senesi.
Discover the most famous movie spots in Val d‘Orcia.