Pienza, Italy: A Pearl of the Renaissance!
The city of Pienza in Italy is considered one of the most beautiful places in Tuscany. Not far from Siena, in the middle of the famous Val d’Orcia, this UNESCO World Heritage Site enchants above all with its wonderful old town, considered to be the ideal Renaissance city. Strolling through the historic center of Pienza, you will discover countless stunning attractions, romantic alleys, pause at picturesque squares and experience some fantastic viewpoints. Excellent restaurants and cozy cafés also invite to linger and enjoy. But also the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings around Pienza are absolutely worth seeing and offer numerous possibilities for excursions and activities!
In this travel guide we give you all the important information and tips about Pienza in Italy. In addition, we show you the best things to do in Pienza, the most beautiful pictures, and where you can find fantastic accommodations.
General Information about Pienza
Pienza in Tuscany is a small town in Italy with only about 2,000 inhabitants. It is located in the heart of the Tuscan hill country, about 55 kilometers south of Siena. Like the Italian metropolis of Florence, Pienza is considered a pearl of the Renaissance. The town is known for its historic center, which has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1996. Only later, in 2004, the entire Val d’Orcia surrounding the city was included on the list. Thanks to its central location in Tuscany, Pienza is a perfect starting point for excursions and activities. Finally, a fantastic offer on places to stay makes a vacation in this region an unforgettable experience.
The history of Pienza, which was originally called Corsignano, dates back to the 9th century, when the town was first mentioned in a document. Later, in 1459, Pope Pius II had his birthplace Corsignano renamed Pienza. He also ordered a large-scale reconstruction to make this place an ideal city of the Renaissance. The works took place under the direction of the Florentine architect Bernardo Rossellino between 1458 and 1462. At that time were also rebuilt famous monuments, such as the Town Hall, the Palace and the Cathedral.
Things to See and to Do in Pienza
There are many wonderful things to do in Pienza. The highlight is the beautiful historic city center, which captivates with the countless romantic alleys and the many magnificent buildings. Here are the best attractions of the Renaissance city summarized at a glance:
Piazzo Pio II & Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Piazzo Pio II is uniquely beautiful and forms the center of the historic old town. This picturesque square is home to some of the best attractions of Pienza, such as the beautiful travertine fountain, around which some of the most important buildings in the town are arranged. Above all, the imposing Town Hall with its picturesque tower and the 15th century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta with its beautiful Renaissance façade, one of the main attractions of Pienza. The interior of the church with its Gothic hall architecture is also worth seeing.
A famous sight in Pienza is Palazzo Piccolomini, the former summer residence of Pope Pio II. This building was designed in the second half of the 15th century by Bernardo Rossellino, inspired by the Ruccellai Palace in Florence. Also worth seeing are the charming halls of Palazzo Piccolomini, with the well-preserved furniture as well as paintings from the time of the Pope, which can be viewed during a tour. The heart of the current museum is the large loggia with the Hanging Gardens, from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the enchanting landscape.
Tip: Palazzo Piccolomini was the film location for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in 1968. You can also find cheap entrance tickets online on GetyourGuide.
The Old Town
Absolutely gorgeous in Pienza are the numerous medieval alleys of the historic old town. Almost on every corner, there is something beautiful to discover during a walk through the city. The best place to start is along Corso il Rosselino, the large main street in the center, along which you also pass the cathedral and the most important monuments. In between there are always small, romantic side streets and the charming squares offer countless dreamlike photo spots! During a stroll through the old town of Pienza, visitors have the chance to experience great delicatessen stores.
Tip: In Pienza you should definitely taste the regional sheep’s cheese Pecorino. Gourmets recommend dipping the cheese in honey.
Monastery of San Francesco
The Monastery of San Francesco is an insider tip in Pienza. It is located on the street Corso Rossellino, between the Porta al Prato and Piazza Pius II. Also worth seeing is the former monastery church of San Francesco from the 13th century and the beautiful cloister of the monastery, whose corridors are now a public art exhibition. Interesting are the frescoes from the earliest period about the life of the founder of the order, Francis of Assisi, which can still be seen today.
Tip: Today, the charming Hotel Relais Il Chiostro Di Pienza is located inside the former monastery. It offers its guests a pool and a panoramic view of the Val d’Orcia!
Panoramic path “Camminata Panoramica”
A wonderful panorama and a unique ambience can be enjoyed from the panoramic path of the city wall, the so-called “Camminata Panoramica“. Walking along the walls, you will have a fantastic view of the cathedral on the one hand, and enjoy a picturesque view over the hilly Tuscan landscape of the Val d’Orcia on the other. A really romantic viewpoint in Pienza that should not be missed on any visit.
Pieve di Corsignano
An interesting place to visit in Pienza is the church Pieve di Corsignano, which is located a little below the city walls and just outside the center. It is one of the most important Romanesque monuments of the region and fascinates above all with its simple, yet impressive architecture. Built probably between the 11th-12th centuries, the church tower was erected only in the 14th century.
Tip: Not only the Pieva di Corsignano is worth seeing, also the surrounding area is a dream. Also, the 5-minute walk down to the gladiator viewpoint also starts at this church.
De Cypresses – The Gladiator Point
Some scenes of the film Gladiator were shot directly under the city walls of Pienza. You can find one of the most beautiful locations at the so-called “De Cypresses – The Gladiator Point“. It is located 600 meters below the church Pieve di Corsignano, next to the dirt road that leads to the Agriturismo A Terrapille. A visit is definitely worthwhile because this place is absolutely magical and one of the most beautiful spots for brilliant photos in the Pienza region!
Things to do around Pienza
Pienza is a perfect starting point for countless excursions and tours. Located in the famous Val d’Orcia, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Tuscany, it is definitely worth spending several days in Pienza!
In addition, from here you have the opportunity to visit the famous city of Siena, which is about 55 kilometers away, as part of a day trip.
Also a trip to Bagno Vignoni with the healing springs as well as an excursion to Bagni San Filippo is highly recommendable!
Where to Stay in Pienza
Pienza offers its visitors a wide range of fabulous accommodations, both in the old town and close to it. From well-kept wineries, agritourism with swimming pool to apartments and campsites, everything is represented here. Here are our recommendations for the best accommodations in Pienza…It’s worth a look!
- Agriturismo with swimming pool: The Agriturismo Marinello is in the best position overlooking Pienza. Guests enjoy the peace, the pool and the delicious breakfast.
- Hotel in the center: The hotel Residence San Gregorio is a small, beautiful hotel at the gates of the historical center of Pienza.
- Pension in the old town: La Bellavita B&B delights with nice rooms and a very nice roof terrace with a fantastic view over the old town of Pienza.
- Agriturismo in great position: The Agriturismo Il Casalino is a 19th century farmhouse with well-equipped apartments and is situated in a perfect position with a wonderful view.
Find the best accommodation in Pienza:
More places to visit in Tuscany:
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