The Story of Pienza, Italy
Pienza is located in the most southern part of Tuscany, in the region of Val d’Orcia, and is only 15km away from Montepulciano. The town was named after Pope Pius, who was born here (Pienza means the city of Pius). Wanting to completely reimagine his birthplace (a small unknown village called Corsignano), the pope hired the architect Bernado Rossellino to create the perfect renaissance town.
Building began in 1459, and within a few years, they had finished the city. The architect was also the first to use these concepts of renaissance humanist urban design – now seen throughout Italy and the rest of the world.
In fact, UNESCO now recognizes Pienza historical center as a world heritage site, wanting to protect the first urban design principles of Bernard Rossellino. These days, people consider the town as one of the most beautiful examples of renaissance architecture.
Historic Center of Pienza
In the center of Pienza, you’ll find renaissance architecture everywhere you look. The cathedral and its octagonal bell tower are particularly extraordinary and are icons of the town. Make sure to also check out the cathedral’s interior, where there are many beautiful paintings from the renaissance period. Spend some time looking around before relaxing in the beautiful square outside.
In Pienza, romance and charm take on a new life. The beautiful setting is truly magical, sat high up on a hill overlooking Tuscany’s rolling hills, cypress trees, and sunflower fields. It really feels like a living, breathing oil painting.
With all this beauty, it’s no surprise that Pienza is the town for lovers, and film director Franco Zeffirelli even set his movie ‘Romeo and Juliet’ here. The romantic streets also have romantic names, like Via del Bacio (Kiss Street) or Via dell’Amore (Love Street). Enjoy wandering the love route in Pienza, Italy!
Pecorino Cheese in Pienza, Tuscany
Pienza is the capital of pecorino cheese, and you can try this tasty local delicacy in many of the town’s osterias. The area is perfect for Pecorino because of the rich pastures that the sheep graze on. This is what gives the cheese a particularly delicious flavor!
How to Visit Pienza, Italy
Pienza is wonderfully remote, allowing visitors to see the natural beauty of the area. Because of this, there is no train service and very few public buses. If you want more flexibility, we recommend renting a car in Italy so that you can visit other hilltop towns too.
Where to Stay in Pienza
Pienza is a lovely place to stay on your trip to Tuscany and a great base to explore the rest of the region. Choose a small guesthouse or bed&breakfast in the historical center, or if you have a car, opt for one of the many agriturismos (farm stays) that sit down in the beautiful valley below.
Best Time to Visit
If you want to see Pienza come to life, then visit during September when the annual Pecorino festival occurs. This is an excellent opportunity to see the locals in action, selling their town’s delicacy. Otherwise, anytime during the fall or spring is a great time to visit this beautiful hilltop town. There will be fewer crowds and tour groups during this time, and you might even be lucky enough to get the streets all to yourself!
Best Cafes and Restaurants
Pienza is an authentic Tuscan town. You’ll find narrow streets filled with charming osterias, run by local people, using fresh and locally sourced produce. Make sure to try one of the fantastic Italian pasta dishes with some grated pecorino cheese on top, of course!
- Sette di Vino (Italian)
- Buon Gusto Gelateria (Gelato)
- Poderuccio (Italian)
- Case Nuove
- Piccolomini Caffè (good coffee)