Pienza: visit the town of Val d’Orcia

What to see in Pienza, main monuments with itinerary of places to visit in one day, from the cathedral to the palace Piccolomini.

Guide Pienza

Pienza is a Tuscan city of Siena that is lonely at the top of a hill, surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Val d’Orcia, in the heart of the Sienese countryside. This beautiful Renaissance town, a splendid example of architecture and urbanism of the four, the first of 1462 was a small village called Corsignano, whose peculiarity was that of being the birthplace, in 1405, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who became Pope in 1458 will the name of Pius II.

This event changed the fate of the village, in fact, between 1459 and 1462, Pope Pius II entrusted to the famous architect Bernardo Rossellino the task of transforming the modest birthplace harmonious town, his “ideal city” of the Renaissance, by changing the name in Pienza. Its historic center is a UNESCO world heritage site. Around the picturesque square dedicated to Pius II are the main monuments: the Duomo, Palazzo Piccolomini, Palazzo Borgia and the Public Palace or dei Priori.

What to see in Pienza

Pienza Duomo: the Cathedral church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, was built between 1459-1462 on the site of the ancient Romanesque church, designed by Rossellino for the facade was inspired by Renaissance standards more advanced. The bright interior gothic three naves of equal height, was inspired by the “Hallenkirchen” German and Austrian Pius II had admired during his travels in Central Europe. Adorn the Cathedral numerous works of art specially commissioned by Pope Pius II to major Sienese painters of the period including Giovanni di Paolo, Matteo di Giovanni, Lorenzo di Pietro, known as Vecchietta and Sano di Pietro.

Palazzo Piccolomini was built by demolishing the buildings that were on the right side of the square. The palace was built by Pius II as a residence for himself and for his family, for his realization Rossellino was inspired by the Palazzo Rucellai in Florence, the work of his teacher Leon Battista Alberti. The façade has three overlapping coated smooth ashlar. On the side facing the country is a loggia with three orders that offers a beautiful view from the rooftop garden, the Val d’0rcia and Mount Amiata. The first floor rooms retain the character of patrician residence of the ‘400, with fine antiques and art crafts.

Palazzo Borgia: now the seat of the Episcopate, is located on the left side of the square in front of Palazzo Piccolomini. The old Gothic building was donated by Pope Pius II to Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI), his close associate, who renovated it and made it his residence. On the corner you can see the coat of arms of the Borgias. In the palace is home to the Diocesan Museum which houses among the various works the Cope of Pius II, extraordinary masterpiece made with a system of decorative embroidery called opus anglicanum in polychrome silk and silver.

Public Palace: now the seat of the municipal administration, was the former residence of the Priors. It is located on the central square, opposite the Cathedral and is among the more recent constructions of the square. The Palace is all travertine with a loggia on the ground floor, on the right side has a brick tower of height less than that of the bell tower of the Cathedral, to highlight the increased importance of ecclesiastical power over civilian. Inside the Palace, in the Council Chamber, there is a fresco of the Sienese school of the ‘400 depicting the Madonna and Child with the Patron of Pienza: San Vito, Modesto and San San Matteo.

Church of San Francesco: only building of relief remained the Corsignano hamlet, located within the city walls. Gothic style dates back to the second half of the thirteenth century. Inside a nave are important remains of fourteenth century frescoes illustrating the life of St. Francis.

Other buildings to see: the Ammannati, Gonzaga and Cardinal Atrebatense complement the fascinating urban fabric of Pienza.