IN THE HEART OF THE VAL D’ORCIA
The lovely little town of Pienza is located in the very heart of the superb Val d’Orcia, in the middle of Tuscany. Blessed territory of endless, gentle hills, of centuries-old cypresses and of picturesque villages, this landscape perfectly surrounds this Renaissance jewel, rebuilt in the 15th century as an “ideal town”.
THE QUEST FOR URBAN PERFECTION
The concept of the “ideal town” was conceived by the Italian Renaissance author Leon Battista Alberti, a specialist of modern architecture. He shaped the notion of a perfectly balanced town, carefully planned in order to become a symbol – with the size and direction of its streets, the dimension of its mansions, churches, squares and bridges – of the ideal symmetry for an urban centre.
Pienza, therefore, is the product of one of the first implementations of this humanist urban planning concept and has been an example for other European cities where the same philosophy has been applied later.
Dominating a peaceful valley endowed with infinite gentle slopes and planted with olive and fruit trees as well as with grape plants, the village offers to visitors the possibility to “embrace” the landscape with a glance.
AN UNMATCHED TRAPEZOIDAL SQUARE
Pienza’s main square hosts four historic beautiful buildings which probably represent its most important legacy from the Renaissance period.
On the west side, stands Palazzo Piccolomini, named after the affluent Italian aristocratic family, dominant in the territory from the 13th century until the 18th century. Built in the same style of many Florence noble mansions, this three-story palace boasts numerous white pilasters, an elegant loggia and a 15th century Italian Renaissance garden overlooking the valley and the Mount Amiata.
Not far away, in the centre of the square, is Pienza’s cathedral, the Duomo. With a typical early Renaissance white façade, it features pilasters, columns and arches. Inside, the cathedral boasts inestimable works of art such as five altar paintings from Sienese School’s masters.