City of the month: Pienza
Situated in the valley “Val d’Orcia”, Pienza is a small town in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany. Since 1996, the “ideal city of the Renaissance” is one of currently 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. Pienza is located between Montalcino and Montepulciano, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and lovely hills.
Renaissance architecture at its best
Pienza (meaning “the city of Pius”) was named after its most famous son, Enea Silvio Piccolomini who became Pope Pius II in 1458. With the support of architect Bernardo Rossellino, he aimed to transform his home town – back then known as Corsignano – into a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance (“the Utopian city”).
The capital of “cacio”
Strolling through the narrow streets of Pienza, you will discover numerous little shops selling the most famous local product: Pecorino cheese (“cacio”) – made of sheep’s (in Italian “pecora”) milk. If you like cheese, Pienza is definitely your place to be as it is known to be the capital of pecorino cheese. A must eat in Pienza is probably the most famous local dish: “Pici con cacio e pepe” – handmade pasta with pecorino cheese and pepper.
About love and kisses
Pienza is considered to be also a very romatic city: With street names such as “Via dell’Amore” (love) and “Via del Bacio” (kiss), you will find Italy’s most romantic streets in Pienza. However, be aware that it can get quite busy on the streets of love on Valentine’s Day. The streets of love and the kiss are surrounded by “Via della Fortuna” (luck) – with a magnificent panoramic view overlooking the valley – and “Via Buia” (darkness), reminding its visitors that wherever there is light, there is also darkness.
From rolling chesses to flowers and chestnuts
If you happen to be in Pienza in early September, don’t miss the famous “fiera del cacio” – a fair dedicated to pecorino cheese and other typical local products. Great fun is “palio del cacio fuso”, a game in which participants – representing each quarter of the town – roll an entire round of “cacio” around the “fuso” (a wooden spindle centered in the main square). Other highly recommended fairs are “Pienza e i fiori” (flowers) in May, “Festa di Primavera” (spring) in April or May and “La Festa Della Castagna A Pienza” (chestnuts) in November.
Top 10 places to visit in Pienza:
- Piazza Pio II (Main square)
- Duomo (Cathedral)
- Palazzo Piccolomini (Piccolomini Palace)
- Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall)
- Palazzo Borgia/Vescovile (Borgia/Vescovile Palace)
- Pozzo dei Cani (Well located in Piazza Pio II)
- Corso il Rossellino (Charming street with shops and restorants)
- Chiesa di San Francesco (Church of San Francesco)
- Pieve di Corsignano (Romanesque Church of – back then – Corsignano)
- Museo Diocesano (Diocesan Museum with art collection and sacred vestments)