Located in the gorgeous Val d’Orcia, a hilly region renowned for its hiking, Pienza itself is such a gem, it’s been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Pienza owes its beauty and fame to Enea Silvio Piccolomini born in Corsignano on 18 October 1405 and elevated to Pope in 1458 taking the name Pius II. During the course of his Papacy, he changed the ancient Castello di Corsignano into a Papal residence in the Renaissance style. Pienza was planned and constructed under the supervision of Bernardo Gambarelli.
Pienza is a rare example of Renaissance town design. Often described as the “ideal city” or the “utopian city”, it represents one of the best planned of Renaissance towns, where a model of ideal living and government was attempted, based on the concept of a town able to satisfy the needs of a peaceful and hardworking populace. It represented the so-called utopia of the “civitas” cherished by utopian thinkers for centuries. Pienza’s location in the centre of the Val d’Orcia, a wonderful and untouched valley, helps the town to embody the fundamental principle that humanistic architecture attempted to incorporate – the balanced relationship between Man and Nature.
Nowadays, Pienza is part of a territorial system called “Parco artistico, naturale e culturale della Val d’Orcia”, which aims at preservation of the extraordinary artistic heritage of the five municipalities which constitute it: Castiglione d’Orcia, Montalcino, San Quirico d’Orcia, Radicofani and Pienza. The centre of Pienza was completely redesigned by Pope Pius II in Renaissance times. He planned to transform his birthplace into a model Renaissance town. The architect Bernardo Rossellino was commissioned to build a Duomo, papal palace and town hall, and the construction was completed in three years. It’s also where Zeffirelli filmed Rome and Juliet. Pienza has a population of 2,500.