Pienza, Italy

Pienza, is a small, architecturally rich, town in the Tuscan area of Italy with a population of 2,200 people, was once known as Corsignano. Pienze, was the birthplace of Renaissance humanist Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, the son of an exiled noble family, Piccolomini became Pope Pius II on August 19, 1458.

One of the first things Pope Pius II did was to rebuild the village into his ideal Renaissance town. One of the earliest examples of urban planning the town was built to be a retreat from Rome. In 1996, Pienza was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and in 2004 the region known as Val d’Orcia, where Pienza is located, was listed in UNESCO’s World Cultural Landscapes. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

Medieval town of Pienza, Tuscany, ItalySome of the beautiful places one must visit when touring Pienza includes The Duomo, or “cathedral,” the dominant feature of the piazza. The Duomo features a facade designed in the Renaissance manner and it is believed to be one of the earliest of such design. Pope Pius II believed that Palazzo, or “Plazas,” were important in the design of the town and there are three of note; Palazzo Piccolomini, Palazzo Vescoville, and Palazzo Comunale that must be seen. Other sites that must be seen on a trip to Pienza include the Pieve, or small church, that features Romanesque design; the Ammannate Palace, named after a cardinal of the time; the church of San Francesco, containing frescoes depicting the life of St. Francis; and the hermitage of the Benedictines, built around 1332.

Besides being known for its historical architecture, Pienza is famous for its cheese. The cheese of Pienza is not cow’s milk cheese, but “pecorino,” or ewe’s milk cheese. Pecorino is made of the regions award winning ewe’s milk. Fine Pecorino is a mature, medium aged cheese, of relatively strong flavors. When Pecorino is fresh it is a soft, white, cheese and as it ages it becomes firmer and darker in color. However, aging Pecorino does not improve the flavor and most prefer fresh Pecorino. There are many wonderful shops in Pienza where one may buy Pecorino. Pienza is also know for finally crafted leather goods and there are shops where one may see the products being hand crafted and buy the finished products.

There are many types of accommodations in Pienze from modern hotels to the popular experience of “Agriturismo,” which are accommodations located in farmhouses set in the Tuscan countryside. The weather is best for visiting Pienza between May and June or September and October when high temperatures avarage about 76 degrees. However, even in winter temperatures are reasonably temperate with highs of around 40 degrees. No matter when one choses to visit Pienza, in the enchanting region of Tuscany, Italy it will be a trip never to be forgotten.


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