The town of Pienza certainly packs a punch for its size. Located in the Val d’Orcia, in the southern part of Tuscany, tiny Pienza has beautiful Renaissance architecture, sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and a lovely laid-back atmosphere.
The town owes its stunning looks to Pope Pius II, who was born here. Before the 15th century Pienza was known as modest village of Corsignano, however Pope Pius II rebuilt it in accordance with humanist ideals of a perfect Renaissance city.
The trapezoidal picture-perfect town’s main square, Piazza Pio II, is flanked by a cathedral and three elegant palaces: Palazzo Piccolomini, Palazzo Vescovile and Palazzo Comunale. The cathedral, Il Duomo, has several magnificent altar paintings by 15th century Sienese masters. Precariously clinging to the edge of a cliff, Il Duomo has been threatening to slide down for centuries. You can see an impressive crack on the floor and a wall that has been slowly growing due to soil erosion.
|Il Duomo in Pienza|
On the right side of the cathedral stands the spectacular Palazzo Piccolomini built for Pope Pius II with an elegant three-arched loggia, hanging gardens and lavishly decorated rooms. From here you can admire sweeping vistas over the d'Orcia Valley with the Mount Amiata on the horizon. Some romantic scenes in Franco Zeffirelli’s movie Romeo and Juliet were filmed in the palace.
The Bishop's Palace (Palazzo Vescovile) houses the town's Museo Diocesano, with a fine collection of altarpieces by Sienese masters.
|Street in Pienza|
Make sure to pop in to one of the small artisan shops in Pienza and taste the famous local ewes' milk cheese pecorino. In September, the town hosts Fiera del Cacio celebrating the prized pecorino and local traditional produce. During the festival, you can watch an ancient game the Palio del Cacio Fuso in which players compete by rolling a small head of pecorino cheese around the fuso, a wooden spindle. All locals, adults and kids, gather around the square to watch the game and cheer for their team.
Photos vis Flickr by: Sonja Pieper, Daniel Günther, Javier G.Valdivia.