Pienza, the Renaissance's ideal city stands unchanged among the bright and iconic landscape of the Val d'Orcia. The main monuments of the city are located in Piazza Pio II: Piccolomini Palace, Borgia Palace and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta with its crypt. The whole building complex was built in the mid-15th century at the behest of the humanist Pope Pius II Piccolomini to a project by the architect Bernardo Gambarelli, known as Rossellino.
The pass is valid for two days according to opening hours.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta has an impressive white travertine facade that almost seems to rise out of the Val d'Orcia landscape. The internal structure, in the Latin cross form, has altars along the apse on which domin... more
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta has an impressive white travertine facade that almost seems to rise out of the Val d'Orcia landscape. The internal structure, in the Latin cross form, has altars along the apse on which dominate precious altarpieces commissioned by the Pope from the Sienese artists most in popularity in the mid-15th century, such as Sano di Pietro, Vecchietta, Matteo di Giovanni, and Giovanni di Paolo. On the left, a small door at the base of the bell tower leads to the San Giovanni's church also known as the crypt. From the crypt, one enters the so-called labyrinth of the cathedral, a system of drainage tunnels excavated under the apse of the cathedral to stem problems of subsidence.
The Piccolomini Palace, a magnificent city palace overlooking the luminous landscape of the Val d'Orcia, was the Pope and his family's residence. Built on the ancient mansion where Enea Silvio Piccolomini was born in 1405, its structure has the characteristics of both the Florentine palace and the suburban Roman villa. The lodge opens like an open-air theatre on to the Renaissance-style hanging garden and the breathtaking panorama of the Val d'Orcia. The palace's interiors, are an authentic museum and preserve furniture and artworks of high interest from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
Borgia Palace (entrance from Corso Rossellino) is the location of the Diocesan Museum: inside the rooms are preserved works of great interest dating back to different periods, among which the 'Virgin Mary with Child' by Pietro Lorenzetti and the splendid English-made cope that Pope Pius II donated to the Cathedral and which was made using the embroidery technique known as opus anglicanum.
Ticket Office - Info Point
Piccolomini Palace Piazza Pio II, 2 - 53026 Pienza
+39 0577 286300
Piccolomini Palace, Borgia Palace Diocesan Museum, Cathedral, Crypt and Labyrinth.
closed on Tuesdays, from 16 to 30 November and from 9 January to 14 February
closed on Tuesdays
Last entry 30 minutes before closing time.
The nearest railway station is Chiusi-Chianciano Terme on the Rome-Florence line. From the station, continue by taxi (about 30 km). You can also get off at Arezzo and reach Pienza by taxi.
From Siena, take the SS No. 2 Cassia to San Quirico d'Orcia, then follow signs for Pienza.
From Florence, take the motorway and exit at Valdichiana, then follow signs for Pienza (20 km from the exit).
From Rome, take the A1 motorway towards Florence, exit at Chiusi-Chianciano Terme and follow the signs for Chianciano, Montepulciano, Pienza (30 km from the exit).
From Siena: Autolinee TRA.IN. From Chiusi: Autolinee L.F.I.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, designed by Rossellino at the behest of Pope Pius II, was consecrated on 29th August 1462. The imposing travertine facade, which almost seems to advance onto the square from the vast panorama of the Val d'Orcia, reflects the classical canons of Leon Battista Alberti's architecture: the simple gabled structure, surmounted by the tympanum with the papal coat of arms of the Piccolomini family surrounded by a garland, is divided into three parts by large pilasters that correspond to the internal subdivision. The Latin cross interior has all the naves of the same height, following the model of the Hallenkirchen, which Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini had admired during his travels in Northern Europe. The altars along the apse are dominated by precious altarpieces commissioned by the Pope from the most fashionable Sienese artists of the mid 15th century: Sano di Pietro, Vecchietta, Matteo di Giovanni, Giovanni di Paolo.
A magnificent town palace overlooking the luminous landscape of the Val d'Orcia, it was the residence of the Pontiff and his family. The imposing sandstone facade with travertine decorations is similar in character to Palazzo Rucellai in Florence, the work of Leon Battista Alberti, Rossellino's master. The division of the facade into three orders, where Guelph cross windows open, is also repeated in the loggia behind, which can be accessed when visiting the Palazzo. Like an open-air theatre, it overlooks the Renaissance-style hanging garden and the breathtaking Val d'Orcia panorama. The Palace's interiors, an authentic museum with furnishings and works of art of great interest from the Renaissance to the 20th century, were restored and brought to new splendour at the behest of Count Silvio Piccolomini, who lived in the palace until 1962.
Passing through the arched loggia on the ground floor, one arrives at the hanging garden, with a surface area equal to that of the palace and composed of four flowerbeds with a fountain in the centre bordered by double box hedges and laurel saplings, whose foliage is pruned in the shape of a dome. Here we witness a perfect interpenetration of art and nature, a concept vague in humanistic thought, of which the Pope is a fine interpreter and undisputed protagonist. At the back, the garden is enclosed by an ivy-covered wall, in which three windows have been cut out. As we look out, we are absorbed by the surrounding space without time or limits and projected towards the landscape modulated by the hand of a skilful painter. The astonishing view of the immense Orcia Valley makes this part of the land exceedingly enchanting. The garden thus becomes a place of contemplation and meditation in the perfect fusion of man and nature.
The splendid cope of English manufacture, donated to the Cathedral by Pope Pius II, is made using the embroidery technique known as opus anglicanum and represents one of the masterpieces of early 14th-century English textile art. The cope is decorated with twenty-seven overlapping panels in three concentric areas and bordered by arches on twisted columns depicting episodes from the lives of St. Margaret of Antioch, St. Catherine of Alexandria and the Virgin, interspersed with figures of Prophets and Apostles. The lower border is decorated with an incredible variety of animal species, almost a textile translation of a medieval bestiary.