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Pienza is a small town close to Montepulciano and Siena. It is a rare example of Renaissance town building. Defined, from time to time as the "ideal city", or the "utopian city", it represents one of the best-planned Renaissance towns. It was here that Renaissance town-planning concepts were first put into practice after Pope Pius II decided, in 1459, to transform the look of his birthplace and gave it its name Pienza ("Pio's Town").


The Duomo is now suffering from serious subsidence at its eastern end. It is flooded with light from the vast stained glass windows stipulated by Pius II as he wanted to create a domus vitrea ("a house of glass").

The palazzo Piccolomini is next to the Duomo. It was home to Pius II's descendants until 1968. The apartments, which are open to the public, include Pius II's bedroom and library. At the rear of the palazzo there is an ornate arcaded courtyard with hanging baskets and a triple-tiered loggia. From here there are stunning views across to the wooded slopes of the Monte Amiata.


Pieve di Corsignano is where Pope Pius II was baptized. This is an 11th century Romanesque parish church on the outskirts of Pienza. The interior can be seen by appointment via the Pienza Tourist Office (+39 0578 749071)


Pienza was used as the setting for Zeffirelli’s film Romeo and Juliet. * A good combination for a day out is Pienza and Montepulciano