Pienza, a renaissance masterpiece
The history of Pienza is inextricably linked to that of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, pope Pio II.
Pio II was born in the village of Corsignano in 1405. Elected pope in 1458, he passed from his hometown during a trip during the following year. It was on this occasion that the pontiff decided to transform that old village into an “ideal city”.
The renewal of the city was entrusted to the architect Bernardo Gambarelli know as the “Rossellino“. After just 3 years, the urban work was completed and the city changed its name to Pienza.
Things to do in Pienza: the guide
The project of Rossellino had its heart in the central square, Piazza Pio II, overlooked by the main renaissance buildings. From the square branch off the main street, named after Rossellino.
Piazza Pio II
The square, that follows the dimensions of the previous square, has a trapezoidal shape on which overlooks the Cathedral. At the sides of the church there are the Palazzo Piccolomini (on the right) and the Palazzo Borgia (on the left), later renamed Bishop’s Palace and now location of the Museo Diocesano (Diocesan Museum). On the opposite side of the cathedral stands the Palazzo Comunale.
Fully Renaissance, the travertine facade of the cathedral isdivided into three parts and open by three portals. Nella parte più alta, al di sopra del rosone, si colloca un timpano che riporta lo stemma di Pio II.
The Interior, which retains a Gothic style, is divided into threenaves of the same height. The apse is divided into three chapels to which are added twomore positioned near the crossing.
Some masterpieces of religious art commissioned by Pius II adorn the Interior of the Cathedral, among these we mention the altarpiece by Giovanni di Paolo Madonna col Bambino e i santi Antonio abate, Bernardino, Francesco e Sabina, La Madonna in trono tra i santi Nicola, Martino, Agostino e Girolamo by Matteo di Giovanni amd L’Assunzione della Vergine by Lorenzo Vecchietta.
Il Museo diocesano
The museum, hosted by the Palazzo Vescovile, exhibits numerous works of art and ecclesiastical furnishings. The Museum consists of eleven halls in which the works, from the Duomo and the surrounding territory, are exhibited chronologically (from the 12th to the 18th century).
Huge but very elegant and entirely covered by bossage, the building develops around a fine central courtyard.
Pienza is located more or less midway between San Quirico d’Orcia (9,8 Km) and Montepulciano (14,8 Km). If you are planning a visit in Val d’Orcia, it might be a good starting point.
If you have time, you might also go to Monticchiello (just 6 Km).
18 March-31 October: 10.30-13.30 and 14.30-18.00 (closed on tuesday)
2 November-17 March: only saturday and sunday 10.00-16.00
Tickets: regular 4,50 euro; reduced 3 euro
16 October-14 March: tuesday-sunday (and monday if it’s a holyday) 10.00-16.30
15 March-15 October: tuesday-sunday (and monday if it’s a holyday) 10.00-18.30
Tickets: regular 7 euro; reduced 5 euro