In 1996 UNESCO declared the town a World Heritage site and in 2004, the entire valley became one of UNESCO’s World Cultural Landscapes.
Formally known as ‘Corsignano’, it was the birthplace in 1405 of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, who later became Pope Pius II. As Pope, he wanted his village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town – which has led historians to dub Pienza the “utopian” town.
Work began began in 1459 under the guidance of Florentine architects and in 1462 the Duomo was consecrated. This wonderful building together with town hall and two impressive palaces form the Piazza Pio at the centre of town. The town itself is a complete Renaissance experience on a small scale.
Pienza is famous for pecorino cheese – sheep’s milk cheese as well as its architecture. The smell of the cheese as you walk down the main street is wonderful. Here you can buy many different types of pecorino cheese, not just the hard cheese seen in the UK and the US. Do visit one of the cheese shops for an explanation and a taste. Many of the shops will vacuum pack your cheese to take home.
There are also many different artisan shops specialising in clothes, leatherwork, cast iron, jewellery and gifts. Pienza also has many lovely restaurants, delicious gelato, crafts and local food shops selling Tuscan produce.
Take a walk too along the city walls, admire the Val d’Orcia in front of you and take a photo of the small streets that lead from them. There is the road of love, the road of fortune and the road of kisses – the choice is yours!
Pienza is a exciting day out combining history, scenery and fantastic shopping and can easily be combined with other towns in the area.
In May Pienza hosts a flower festival and in September a famous ‘cheese rolling contest’ There are also several musical events during the summer. See Events for further information.