Pope Pius II

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Pienza is part of the province of Siena, located in the Val d’Orcia, Tuscany.

Until the beginning of the 15th century the name of the town was Corsignano. Here was born Enea Silvio Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II. He was a Renaissance humanist that decided to have the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance one. The city was the first example of humanist urban planning projects. Many Italian and European cities later adopted this model.

The project was given to Bernardo Rossellino an architect from Florence; he was very popular at the time. In 1459 the rebuild started. Only three years later the Duomo was consecrated by the Pope.

The UNESCO declared Pienza a World Heritage Site in 1996 and 10 years later the Val d’Orcia became part of the UNESCO’s World Cultural Landscapes.

The most important buildings of Pienza are located in the central Piazza PIo II. Remodeling the old Corsignano’s piazza Rossellino had to give the new one a trapezoidal form in order to fit all the buildings he planned.

The principal Palace of the city is Palazzo Piccolomini; it is situated on the west side of Piazza Pio II. The building has a gorgeous internal court. From the loggia located on the back of the palace is possible to enjoy a stunning view of the Val d’Orcia.

Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who will become Pope Alexander VI, financed the construction of the Palazzo Vescovile. The palace was built to accommodate the Bishop who would spend time in the city to attend the Pope. Today the building houses the Diocesan Museum and the Cathedral Museum.

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The Duomo is one of the first examples of Renaissance Cathedral. However the bell tower resembles the German style. Pius II in fact, before he became Pope, had spent many years in Germany and had always admired the effects of light in the German churches.

When the village of Corsignano became the city of Pienza a town hall was required. The Palazzo Comunale was built right across the Duomo; probably Rossellino choose this location to separate the religious space dedicated to the Cathedral from the secular market square located right behind it. The Palazzo Comunale’s bell tower is shorter than the Cathedral’s to remind the population the church’s superior power.