Day 9 – Mid-afternoon – Pienza

Pienza was once called Corsignano, but when Pope Pius II, (Enea Silvio Piccolomini), decided to turn his birthplace into a model Renaissance town, its name changed to Pienza.

The town is very small, but exquisite, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Around the main square is the Cathedral, the Palazzo Piccolomini, the Palazzo Comunale, and the Palazzo Borgia. The Cathedral facade reflects a classical Renaissance style.

On the door of the Cathedral, this flyer was posted to announce the services of the Casa Betlemme, an organization that helps women carry through with unwanted pregnancies. It defends the right to life from conception to death. Abortion is a legal right in Italy.

Across from the Cathedral is the Palazzo Communale. Between the two buildings, the geometric piazza which has been designed to act as a sundial.

A profile bust of Pope Pio II Piccolomini is embedded over the entry to the Palazzo Comunale.

A small museum shows the layout of the town with explanations of its planning and architecture. The Pope hired the architect Rossellini to create a town featuring the humanist thinking of the day.

The town is designed on the shape of a human body, in accord with the humanist thinking of the time.

I visted the Palazzo Piccolomini, where the Pope lived when he was not

The spacious entry area is formed with travertine marble.

And leads to an orderly garden of shrubs and trees.

Cyclists love the Val d’Orcia for its scenic bike routes through the rolling hills. Here a group admires the view from the Palazzo Piccolomini garden.

And quite the view it is.

Photos of the interior were not allowed in the Palazzo and they are very rare on the internet. The interior is like no other historic residence I’ve ever visited, each object and painting from the Pope’s family a unique treasure. The audio tour described the decor of each room and some of the objects within. I did find a photo of the Pope’s bedroom on the internet. It does not show the Pope’s toilet, an elaborately carved wooden chair like others except for the raisable seat and hidden pot beneath.

Next I visited the Palazzo Borgia which houses the Cathedral Museum. The Pope lavishly spent to make his hometown filled with works of the best Sienese artists of the time.

. cefalofori. I had the entire museum to myself, but had to make a run through as time was short. This statue stopped me in my tracks.

I had never seen one like it. Labeled San. Bbb cefalofori

Also impressive is this cape worn by Pope Pio Piccolomini. l




Pienza is known for its pecorino cheeses. I bought a bit of the cheese wrapped in lAurel leaves…

But only looked at the bin of tobacco-wrapped rounds.


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