Pienza, the only town nearby Siena whose birth is clearly known, was built, on a town plan, for want of Pope Pius II - Enea Silvio Piccolomini – in 1558. Part of the UNESCO’s heritage, this enchanting Renaissance village is surrounded by the Val d'Orcia, looking, on the eastern-side, at the Mount of Cortona and the three lakes (Trasimeno, Chiusi and Montepulciano); on the southern-side, at the Mount Amiata; overlooking Torrita, Asciano, St Giovanni d'Asso and the Chianti hills.
Pienza got the name from Pope Pius II, that strongly wanted this elegant hamlet as place of rest, for him and his entire court.
Thanks to the special position, this lovely town (once called Corsignano) has been greatly important during the wars that involved, in Tuscany, the Medicean and Imperial armies against the French ones, along with the Republic of Siena in Montalcino (1550-60). Pienza was predated fifteen times.
When Pius II ascended the pontifical throne, he commissioned the Florentine architect and sculptor, Bernardo Rossellino, to renew and transform the town planning of the ancient, impoverished hamlet of Corsignano, into the charming Renaissance village of Pienza.
Later on, the precious papal treasures got unfortunately stolen from the Napoleonic army.
Around the main Piazza, you will find the Duomo, Palazzo Piccolomini, Palazzo Borgia and Palazzo dei Priori... you should definitely spend at least one day to visit all these marvels! Other houses and buildings were subsequently built nearby the central ones. Every house has been tastefully made using materials allied to the constructions of Rossellino, under the supervision of the architect Pietro Paolo del Porrina, from Siena.
If you are keen on trekking and cycling, Pienza is the perfect place where you can start to discovering the lovely "Parco della Val d’Orcia" and easily reach many little "jewels", like: San Quirco, Montalcino, Bagno Vignoni, Montefollonico and Radicofani.
The local food and wine are just delicious, able to satisfy even the most particular palates. Take note and, once there, try to taste...
Wines: Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino
Cheese: Pecorino di Pienza
Main courses: "Pici di sugo"; Pappardelle with hare ragu; Minestra di Farro (einkorn soup); "Acquacotta" and many others.
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Explore nearby towns
Monticchiello rests on a hill near Pienza, in the provincial countryside of Siena.
Coming from Montalcino towards Via Cassia, you'll find the road signs to San Quirico d'Orcia: one of the most interesting village of the whole Val d'Orcia.
Not far from Torrita di Siena, set on top of a hill between Valdichiana and Val d'Orcia lies Montefollonico, typical isolated Medieval hamlet surrounded by thirteenth-century walls of fired bricks.