Penza: Pope Pius II legacy and the allure of Tuscany

Pienza Landscape

There is a city in Tuscany which is fate was changed due to the fact that a Pope was born there. The Pope was Pius II. Nowadays this city is notorious not just for its beautiful landscapes and cypresses, but also for its so tasty cheese. In this article I want to bring you in this fantastic little city nestled in the picturesque hills of Tuscany: Pienza.

Pienza cypress

Pope Pius II’s legacy

Before 1462 Pienza was a decay and unknown village named Corsignano. In 1405 was born a guy, Enea Silvio Piccolomini who 53 years later will become Pope Pius II and will rewrite the history of this village. During a trip to Mantova, Pius II was passing by his hometown and noted the abandoned state of the city.  Therefore, he decided to rebuild it. Bernardo Rossellini was the architect designed to rebuild the city which completed in four years. After the renovation, Corsigliano changed name in Pienza which means “Piu’s city”. Pienza became a harmonious borough in typical fifteen-century times. Unfortunately the Pius II precocious death stopped any further implementation of the city which still entered in the UNESCO World Heritage in 1996.

Pienza moto
Pienza church nave

Pienza: a pilgrimage to the soul of Tuscany

Before taking you to discover the breathtaking city of Pienza, I want to spend some words about the journey. I’m certain you all have seen the beautiful picture of the Cypress trees as well as the cypress’s avenue but the landscape offers more. The winding roads that lead to this Tuscan village take you through rolling hills adorned with vineyards and olive groves. Each curve of the scenic road reveals panoramic views of the countryside and while you approaching Pienza, the anticipation raise as the silhouette of the town come in to view. The more you approach the city, the captivating skyline of Pienza come in to view with his iconic Chatedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Once you find a parking spot – it is essential move around Tuscany with a car and not by public transportation since the villages are difficult to reach – it starts the discover of the city.

Pienza square
Pienza bell tower


The heart of Pienza is Piazza Pio II and it is surrender by historical buildings build in classic Italian architecture. On a side there is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta which is facade is a masterpiece of Renaissance design. Giving your back to the Cathedral, on the left side, there is Palazzo Piccolomini which belonged to Pope Pius II; on the right hand there is Palazzo Borgia and in front of the Cathedral there is Palazzo Comunale. The Cathedral was build on the ancient Parish Church of Santa Maria and is unusually oriented to the north-south with the facade on the north. It is possible purchase a ticket to visit Palazzo Piccolomini were to admire the opulent rooms as well as the breathtaking gardens from which it is possible to admire the landscapes of Val d’Orcia.

… and Pecorino

Beyond the bustling town square Pienza unveils its labyrinthine alleys which take you on a journey through time. To admire the beautiful landscapes of the rolling hills, vineyards and cypress I advise you to reach Terrazza del Palazzo Comunale. Once you’re asking throug the narrow allays take time to visit some cheers shops. In fact, Pienza is renominates for its cheese so savor yourself with a selection of pecorino and a regional wines. As the sun sets on the horizon, do not miss a change to have an aperitif in one of the many bars in Pienza or indulge yourself in a tasty dinner in a local trattoria.

Chatedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Church particolar

Pienza is a way of celebrating Tuscan way of life and it promises an unforgettable experience. Do not miss the chance to discover this beautiful gem i the hearth of Tuscany and immerse your senses in the cheese and wines.

Pienza house
Santa Maria Assunta nave
Val d'Orcia landscape

If you want to discover more places and landscapes across Val d’Orcia, click on the link below:

  1. Sant’Antimo Abbey: Timless Tranquillity Oasis
  2. Montalcino, more than wine

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top