Pienza: A Beautiful Little Renaissance Town in Tuscany

Street in Pienza, Italy

Pienza is a beautiful little Renaissance town in Tuscany with a fascinating history.  It’s located between Montepulciano and Montalcino, and is less than an hour’s drive or bus ride from Siena.

As a perfectly preserved Renaissance town and a UNESCO world heritage protected site, Pienza is a favorite for period film locations. Director Franco Zeffirelli filmed the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet in Pienza, and the town was  also used in the movie The English Patient.

What to see in Pienza

When you get to Pienza you’ll definitely want to see the Piazza Pio.  Also, check out the Piazza Piccolomini, which was the Pope’s residence and was lived in by descendants of the Piccolomini family until 1968.  Of course, there’s the Duomo (cathedral).  When you walk behind the Duomo, you get fantastic views of the whole Val d’Orcia (Orcia Valley).  A tourist office in Pienza is right in the main piazza.  During summer months, you can get free guided tours of the town.

Val D'Orcia seen from Pienza

On the main street, there are lots of food stores that specialize in gourmet products from Tuscany such as wine, honey, and the local pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese.  You can do cheese tastings and wine tastings at a number of shops.

A good place to have lunch in Pienza is the popular Trattoria Latte di Luna or the reasonably priced Del Falco (Piazza Dante Alighieri 7, phone 0578-748551 closed on Fridays).

It only takes a couple of hours to see most of Pienza.  It’s a pretty small place. But if you’ve got more time to spare, you can stay overnight in a charming B&B in Pienza and take your time soaking up the Renaissance  atmosphere.

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  4. Why You Can’t Trust Travel Guidebooks