We have been to Pienza a number of times. Each enjoyable. Our memories include the architecture and the food. Some travel books refer to Pienza as being overrated, but there is a good feel to the place.
Located in the scenic Val d'Orcia area of Tuscany, the town and the setting is beautiful. Pienza is about 20 km east of Montalcino and a little west of Montepulciano. Yes lots of "Monte's" in Tuscany so you have to keep all the names right! It was a Renaissance experiment. Enea Silvia Piccolomini, who later became Pope Pius II (1460) directed that his town that was previously called Corsignano to be redesigned by architect Bernardo iL Rossellino as Pienza. The main piazza has the Cathedral, the Papal Palace and the Town Hall. The rest of the town has a comfortable small town feel.
Rosselino treated the square, or piazza , 90 by 80 feet, as if it were an interior room with walls created by the façades of the cathedral and the three surrounding buildings. For Rosselino, town design was simply an extension of architecture. He designed the piazza/room as a strict exercise in perspective, organizing the pavement as a horizontal grid and the building façades as vertical grids, like those that would be used in constructing a perspective drawing of the square. The pattern of the rectangles implied by the grid identify the mathematical rules used in creating the proportions for all aspects of the piazza. This sort of construction conformed to Alberti's theories.
Check our Great Places to Stay site as there are some good restaurants in town. One in particular which we may a point of enjoying is the Trattoria Latte di Luna. Oh the meals we have had here. Super busy. Became the "it" place as the film crew for the movie, the English Patient, made this their restaurant! (Closed on Tuesdays).
It is enjoyable to visit Pienza as they are no cars in the town. So the unjoyable thing you have to do is get into one of the parking lots that are outside the historic centre. The SP146 is the science raod that most use to arrive in the town. If you are coming from the west, you will have gone by the town of San Quirico d'Orcia. It is also worth a visit. If you are driving up from the south, you can take the small white road, SP18 as it gives you a good view as you approach the town which sits on the hill. To the east, along the SP146 is the route to Montepulciano.
Palazzo Piccolomini The trapezoidal piazza is defined by four buildings. The Palazzo Piccolomini, has three stories, articulated by pilasters.There is an internal court. The back of the palacehas the loggia on all three floors overlooking an enclosed Italian Renaissance garden. Below this garden is a vaulted stable that had stalls for 100 horses.
Palazzo Vescovile was built to house the bishops who would travel to Pienza to attend the pope. It is now home to the Diocesan Museum and the Museo della Cattedrale.
Palazzo Comunale This is the town hall. When Corsigniano was given the status of an official city, a Palazzo was required that would be in keeping with the "city's" new urban position.The three-arched loggia faces the Cathedral. The council chamber is above the loggia. It brick bell tower is shorter than its counterpart at the cathedral, to symbolize the superior power of the church.