Saturday 25 January 2014

Pienza is a must see when you visit Tuscany

The little town of Pienza in the Val d'Orcia of southern Tuscany seems to the visitor to be an ideal town, filled with light, human in its balance and proportions. This is no accident. Enea Silvio Piccolomini, a Renaissance man in every sense, as Pope Pius II, had his native village of Corsignano rebuilt to embody in urban form the humanist ideals of the architect Leon Battista Alberti. The work was supervised by Bernardo di Matteo del Borra Gamberelli (1409–1464), better known as Bernardo Rossellino, and the outcome was a model for many later Renaissance towns and cities. Corsignano is now known as Pienza, from the name of its greatest benefactor, Pio II.

Pienza seen from the Val d'Orcia

Without doubt I can say that Pienza is a must see when you visit Tuscany. The focal point for a visit to Pienza is the trapezoidal main piazza which is defined by four buildings: the Palazzo Piccolomini, the Duomo, the Palazzo Vescovile and the Palazzo Comunale.

To me the three storey Palazzo Piccolomini is one of the most beautiful secular buildings of the Renaissance, enhanced as it is by an interior courtyard and a splendid italianate garden on the south side, looking out over the Val d'Orcia to Monte Amiata in the distance. This integration of the garden into the architecture of the villa, together with the wonderful vista beyond the garden, is the hallmark of Renaissance domestic architecture.

A visit to Pienza can comfortably be combined with visits to the wine towns Montalcino and Montepulciano, or a visit to Villa La Foce, if formal gardens are among your enthusiasms.

And let's not forget that the sheep of the Val d'Orcia together with the skill of its artisans make Pienza the home of the best Tuscan pecorino, ewes' milk cheese. Don't forget to buy some during your stay in Pienza!

More Pienza tourist information.

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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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