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Saturday 25 February 2017
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Pienza - the old town centre

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Right in the heart of Tuscany, Pienza stands between the Val d’Orcia and the Val d’Asso.

Considered one of the finest examples of Renaissance town planning, Pienza has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The original small fortified hamlet over which today’s city stands was called Corsignano and was part of the estates of the powerful Piccolomini family. But the town’s prosperity flourished exclusively thanks to Enea Silvio Piccolomini, the future Pope Pius II, who in 1459 commissioned the architect Bernardo Rossellino to transform Pienza into his ‘ideal’ city. Although Rossellino respected the original Medieval structure of the town, his plans were carried out at such pace that in 1462, just seven years after the start of the works, the new Pienza was officially.

The centre of town is the piazza named after Pius II. Rossellino designed its unusual, trapezoid shape, along with the fishbone arrangement of the paving bricks. The Cathedral, as well as the Palazzo Comunale, Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo Borgia, face onto the square..

With its octagonal bell tower, the Cathedral stands at the base of the trapeze design of the square. Its imposing façade in travertine contains a drum with the Piccolomini coat of arms at the centre, probably completed by Senese craftsmen. The interior is divided into three naves and is full of light thanks to the large gothic windows.

There are a number of interesting Senese School altarpieces, including one by Matteo di Giovanni and Lorenzo di Pietro (known as Il Vecchietta). The crypt contains fragments of sculptures that were once part of the decorations of the former Romanesque church dedicated to Mary, as well as a tabernacle designed by Bernardo Rossellino.

To the right of the Cathedral stands Palazzo Piccolomini, the private residence of Pope Pius II and one of Rossellino’s finest buildings. The southern part of the palazzo is composed of three loggias, one above the other, commanding magnificent views over the Val d’Orcia.

The first floor of the building houses the Museo Artistico, which contains a number of Piccolomini family portraits as well as 18th century Neapolitan School works. The Sala delle Armi contains a sizeable collection of halberds and armour, while the Biblioteca boasts a number of rare documents and volumes.

To the left of the Cathedral stands Palazzo Borgia, named thus because it was given by Pope Pius II to Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, the future Pope Alexander VI. Formerly the Palazzo Pretorio, today the building houses the Museo Diocesano, with a total of 11 rooms that contain Senese School works from the 13th to the 18th century, as well as the mantle that belonged to Pope Pius II.

Next to Palazzo Borgia is the Palazzo Comunale, which was built after 1462. It has a low, broad tower and an internal courtyard with a loggia supported by travertine columns. Slender bifore windows open up onto the façade. Today the building houses the town council.

Of the religious buildings in Pienza, the most important is the Church of San Francesco, built in the second half of the 13th century. The fine gothic entrance leads to a single nave interior decorated with frescoes depicting episodes from the life of St Francis. The apse is also decorated with Franciscan scenes painted by Cristoforo di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero.

As well as its undeniable artistic and architectural beauty, Pienza is also known for its quirky street names. The town’s main street, Corso Rossellino, is named after its great architect. The parallel street to the Corso is Via del Casello and one of the town’s most romantic, with a number of narrow, shady streets leading into it such as Via dell’Amore, Via della Fortuna, Via del Bacio and Via Buia.


 

All'inizio

  General information
Town map 
Siena in the Renaissance 
Siena in the Middle Ages 
Siena in Antiquity 

  Transport in town
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

  Where to Stay
Historical Residences 
Hotels 
Farm Holidays and Country Houses  
Residence, Apartments 
Bed & Breakfasts 

  OFFERS & LAST MINUTE
Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Restaurants 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

  Education
Siena University 
University for Foreigners 

  Art and monuments
Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo delle Papesse 
Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 
Palazzo d’Elci degli Alessi 
Loggia della Mercanzia 
Palazzo Sansedoni 
Palazzo Chigi-Zondadari 
Fonte Gaia fountain 
Carthusian Monastery of Pontignano  
Forte di Santa Barbara 

  Art and religion
Church of Sant’Agostino 
The Duomo – The Cathedral of the Assunta 
Church of the Osservanza  
The Oratory of San Bernardino 
Church of San Francesco 
Short Biography of St Catherine of Siena  
St Catherine Sanctuary 
Church of S. Niccolò al Carmine 

  Museums and galleries
The Museo Civico 
Bologna-Buonsignori museum 
Accademia dei Fisiocritici 
I Musei Senesi 

  Art and tourist attractions
Cappella di Piazza 
The Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia 
Piazza del Campo 
The Montagnola Senese and the Fortified Village of Sovicille 
The Castles of Belcaro and Quattro Torri 

  The Palio of Siena
The Origins 
The July and August Palio 
The Contrade 
The Days of the Palio 
The Drappellone 
The Eve of the Palio 
The Corteo Storico Procession 
The Race 
The Patron Saint and Oratory of Each Contrada 
Weekly Appointments in each Contrada from April onwards 

  Sightseeing
Via di Città (formerly Via Galgaria), Siena’s Most Elegant Street 
Croce del Travaglio Place 
From Piazza del Campo to the Duomo Along Via di Città 
The Curves of Piazza del Campo 
Costarella dei Barbieri street 
Borgo d’Ovile 
The Terzo of Camollia – main streets 
Casato di Sopra e Casato di Sotto 
Terzo di San Martino district  
The Terzo di Città District - Via Stalloreggi, Via San Quirico 
The Terzo di Città District – The Pinacoteca Nazionale 

  What to see & do
Wedding in Siena 
Golf courses in Siena and Tuscany 
Wedding in Tuscany - Siena area 
San Casciano dei Bagni 
Chianciano Terme 
Bagni San Filippo 
Bagno Vignoni 
Rapolano Terme - Baths of San Giovanni and Baths of the Antica Querciolaia 
The Countryside around Siena and its Thermal Water Springs 

  Monte Amiata
Monte Amiata - nature tourism the year round 
SkiPass Monte Amiata 
WebCam sul Monte Amiata 
Meteo Monte Amiata 

  Specials - Out of town
Gift Ideas for traveling 
The Val d’Orcia and Its Main Towns 
Pienza - the old town centre 
Montepulciano - the old town centre 
San Quirico d’Orcia - the old town centre 
Montalcino and the Land of Brunello 
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete 
The Crete Senesi 
Castellina in Chianti and the Via Chiantigiana Towards Siena 
Siena and Southern Chianti - from the Castle of Montalto to the Castle of Brolio and on to the Castle of Meleto 
The Chianti Hills - Monte Calvo, Monte Luco and Monte San Michele 
Cortona and the Valdichiana 
San Gimignano - The old town centre and its major sights 
The Val d’Elsa - Monteriggioni and Colle di Val d’Elsa 
Along the Old Via Francigena 

  Typical products
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