As he walks around Pienza the traveller realises that he is somewhere totally different to other towns. The old centre is one of the purest incarnations of the concept of the ideal city thanks to Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who was born in the village of Corsignano in 1405 and who returned to pay it a visit forty years or so later after becoming Pope Pius II. He decided to change the town’s destiny forever, stopping an end to the progressive ruination of his hometown and commissioning its total renewal to one of the best Renaissance architects: Rossellino. This was the rebirth of Pienza, known for the balanced beauty of its architecture and for its harmonious rapport with the surrounding scenery.
The town changed its utopia in just four years and its fate followed that of the Pope himself. When Pius died at a young age, it was as if Pienza stopped still in time. The town has stayed the very same and today we can still admire it in an identical state to as it was in the mid 15th century.
To explore Pienza the traveller must be shrewd enough to go looking for little-known corners, which will leave him with memories that will last forever. Walk into the Romitorio, the age-old place of prayer and retreat frequented until 1344, where in a succession of tunnels and grottos you can find bas reliefs depicting human figures and animals. The subterranean space also encompasses the chapel named for Madonna del Latte, in whose immediate vicinity we can also find the Pieve di Corsignano, a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture. Another “secret” corner is the medieval town of Monticchiello, a fistful of houses that comprise the single hamlet of Pienza, spread out on a hill from which you can enjoy breath-taking views of the Val d'Orcia. The last stronghold to fall during the French-Spanish War, today Monticchiello is famous for its "Teatro Povero", whose stage local residents have been using for fifty years, a unique theatre on the Italian arts scene.
It’s simply not possible to visit Pienza without having a food and wine experience par excellence. Here you can taste some unique products, such as the renowned pecorino, a typical local cheese. The wines are equally superb, perfect when paired with locally reared meat and homemade pasta, as well as the prized extra-virgin olive oil. Our traditions are also reflected in certain folklore events, offering top ideas for a perfect weekend in Pienza: the Fiera del Cacio (cheese fair) in September and the Gara del Panforte (Panforte cake competition) during the Christmas holidays.