Pienza is a city of infinite beauty, a village overlooking the rolling hills of Val d’Orcia, rich in history and charm. Pienza is famous in the world for at least three good reasons:
– Pienza is known as “the ideal city” desired by Pope Pius II
– Its historical center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located within the Val d’Orcia Park, that is a World Heritage Site too. Therefore it is twice over a patrimony of humanity.
– Pienza is also famous for its cheese, Pecorino di Pienza
The ideal city
Pienza was dream that became reality. Pope Pius II (from which Pienza takes his name) wanted to create the ideal city in the place where he was born, known at the time as Corsignano.
Even today, this splendid Tuscan village is a unique example for the organization of urban spaces. The geometric perspectives, the impressive volumes of the Cathedral and the Piccolomini Palace, the careful filling of the spaces in the center of village, represent a remarkable testimony of architectural genius.
You can walk through the streets of Pienza touching the autentic soul of the Italian Renaissance.
What to see and what to do in Pienza
Our walk in Pienza starts from “Porta al Murello” which opens onto Corso Rossellino, the main street that crosses the city from north to south up to “Porta del Ciglio”. As you walk through the town gate you will be immersed in a magical atmosphere: the scents, the colors and the picturesque alleys will amaze you. Walking through artisan shops you will arrive in Pio II square, the real jewel of the city. The square is framed by splendid Renaissance palaces: the Cathedral of the Assumption, Piccolomini Palace with the well, Borgia Palace and the Town Hall. Each building has different dimensions and styles and it’s here that the architectural miracle takes place. Pio II square is shaped like a trapeze and offers a game of unique perspectives that create harmony. The Cathedral of the Assumption is unique because it is the result of the fusion of Gothic and Renaissance style. The buildings around are the ideal frame for the Cathedral and enhance its magnificence.
From here we suggest you to deviate along the romantic and scenic Via del Casello, the best panoramic viewpoint of Pienza from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the Val d’Orcia up to Monte Amiata.
Along Via del Casello there are four picturesque crosspieces among the most photographed in Pienza that connect it with Corso Rossellino: road of luck, road of love, road of kiss and dark road.
Through the streets of Pienza you will find many shops and you can taste the typical dishes of the Val d’Orcia in the many excellent restaurants. You can eat a great ice-cream, have a drink whilst taking in the view, you can go shopping or you can get lost in the atmosphere of the Italian Renaissance.
Pecorino di Pienza Cheese
A Tuscan product with the longest history.
Pecorino di Pienza is a cheese made from sheep’s milk, it can be fresh or aged, spiced or infused with grapes, to be eaten alone or paired with honey, jams or pears.
In Pienza the smell of Pecorino fills the air, along the streets of the city you will find many shops where you can buy or taste Pecorino. For an authentic experience we also recommend visiting a dairy where Pecorino di Pienza is produced.
Read also 5 Tuscan specialties to taste
In addition to the historic center, in the surroundings of Pienza there are many treasures to discover.
Absolutely not to be missed The Vitaleta Chapel. Surely you have seen it in a postcard. This small church with its cypresses is one of the symbolic places of the Val d’Orcia. You will find it just 5 km from Pienza towards San Quirico along the Provincial Road 146 of Chianciano but to reach it you have to walk a bit.
Less than 1 km from Pienza, just under the city walls you can visit the Pieve di Corsignano. A small church in Romanesque style with very ancient origins. Entering on the right there is the original baptismal font where both Pope Pius II and his nephew Pope Pius III were baptized.
From Pieve di Corsignano continuing along the dirt road that descends towards the Val d’Orcia you will reach the fields made famous by the film Gladiator.
Read also 10 must-see places in Val d’Orcia