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Pienza: from a small town to an ideal city

Pienza is a charming town in Tuscany, located in the beautiful Val d’Orcia region. Known for its scenic landscapes, it has become a popular destination among travelers looking to experience the beauty and culture of Italy.

Pienza, Tuscany | TuscanyLifetime.com

Despite its popularity, Pienza still remains somewhat off the beaten path compared to larger cities like Rome or Florence. This makes it an appealing destination for those who want to escape the crowds and experience a less-known Italian place. From wandering along cobblestone streets lined with quaint cafes and boutiques, to admiring the Renaissance’s architecture and sampling delicious local cuisine, Pienza has something for everyone.

Is Pienza in Tuscany worth visiting?

Pienza is a place full of history. Since 1996, it is recognized as a World Heritage Site and is well-known all around the world for several thins. Its history, but also for its cuisine with the pecorino cheese, a food that it’s possible to find everywhere nowadays. Nestled in the heart of Valdorcia, it is a magical place where harmony reigns and inspires poets, writers, and artists from both the past and the present. It’s the realm of cypress trees, country roads, and hillside landscapes. Don’t miss this corner of paradise, let’s dive in!

History of Pienza: the “ideal city”

Have you ever heard about Pienza? Enea Silvio Piccolomini, elected Pope Pius II in 1458, was born in the southern part of Tuscany, in the anonymous village of Corsignano. After his election, he hired Bernardo Rossellino, the architect who had previously worked with Leon Battista Alberti (famous for creating the façade of Santa Maria Novella), in order to transform his small town into a “Città Ideale” (Ideal City), following all the humanist urban planning concepts.

The construction of the city started around 1459 on top of the ancient hamlet and it took about four years to create a harmonious fifteenth-century town. The untimely death of Pope Pius II put a stop to the urban reorganization of the new city, which has remained practically unchanged over the centuries.

Pienza in Tuscany Unesco World Heritage Site

In 1996, Unesco rewarded the center of Pienza as a World Heritage Site, considering thatthe site is of outstanding universal value as it represents the first application of the Renaissance Humanist concept of urban design, and as such occupies a seminal position in the development of the concept of the planned “ideal town” which was to play a significant role in subsequent urban development in Italy and beyond“. Only 8 years then, all the Val d’Orcia was included on the list.

Pecorino cheese of Pienza, Tuscany

Pienza is also well-known for its pecorino cheese. It is a city of reference for the pecorino. A few years ago also the NY Times talked about it. It is obviously part of “PAT”, the list of the traditional Tuscan food products.
He was slicing off pieces of a pecorino stagionato — pecorino di Pienza aged at least six months. It was salty and earthy, delicately crumbly — and served by a passionate, fast-talking man who revered the process of making this cheese as much as its history. I may have been eating the perfect food“, NY Times writer Danielle Pergament said.