Pienza

“An exquisite Renaissance dolls’ house”. Every piazza is perfection. Pienza was once the homely hamlet of Corsignano, but as the home of a Pope (E.S. Piccolomini) with vision, it become the masterpiece of Florentine architect, Bernado Rossellino and was renamed after the Pope.

If arriving from the West, park on the right next to the cemetery just outside the town and approach on foot on a wide winding path atop the town boundary walls with truly stunning panoramic views out over the whole Orcia valley and over to Monte Amiata in the South West. Fifteen minutes later you will arrive in a small grassy square, surrounded by cafes and shops and an arch leading pedestrians into the centre of town. On either side of the cobbled street are shops offering the local cheeses – pecorino and ricotta, wine, delicious gelati and ceramics before opening out into the cathedral square. The duomo has a Renaissance façade and a gothic interior and lists slightly, only adding to its charm. At night there is many an impromptu concert in the square. The Pope’s palace is now a museum and its treasures include a library and arms collection. There are many restaurants and bars behind the main square. All in all, Pienza is a must excursion and works well with a trip to the local thermal spa baths in the ‘town’ of Bagno Vignoli.