Pienza is known around the world for being one of Tuscany’s Renaissance treasures and the home of a Pope with a vision to transform his birthplace into the “ideal” Renaissance city. Located in the breathtaking Val d’Orcia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) overlooking Monte Amiata, the medieval town of Corsignano was to be Italy’s 15th century version of Renovation Nation.
Reconstructed and renamed Pienza under the Piccolomini Pope Pius ll, a new cathedral, town hall and palazzo were built. I spent an afternoon in Pienza and visited the Palazzo Piccolomini (the pope’s summer residence) with a signorina who spoke an Italian version of Spanglish. Slightly difficult to understand but well intended. The elegant open courtyard, the halls of period furniture and memorabilia and the gardens that overlook the valley below were well worth the cost of admission. Il biglietto d’ingresso interno was 7EU and for that price I got to see where the Pope slept. I also got to see priceless masterpieces, tapestries, weaponry, paintings and a scagliola table representing a map of the Sienese States. There was a chair that was used to carry the Pope in his travels and a medieval baby’s high chair.
But my favorite was the More or Less Clock, a huge medieval clock that is called more or less because it only works in 15 minute increments (instead of seconds). Ah, the Italian sense of time.