A Pope’s Hometown Becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The lovely hilltop village of Pienza is a short (approx. 15 miles) and worthwhile side trip from Siena. As the birthplace of Pope Pius II, this tiny town received many favors (including renaming it after himself!). His intention was to make it a model Renaissance town and today it has the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although you could “see” Pienza in an hour or so (made all the easier since it’s strictly pedestrian), it deserves more than a quick visit. Take time to visit and enjoy the friendly artisan shops and trattorias (put tasting pecorino cheese on your list of things to do here!). It’s impossible to get lost, so accept the invitation to just meander and stroll along the gently winding alleyways. Welcoming and well tended window boxes and flowerpots bursting with color greet you everywhere.
Be sure to find the walkway along the city walls where you will delight in a breathtaking view of the patch worked Val D’Orcia below. Doubtless you will notice some of the intriguing street names: Via Bella Fortuna…Via Del Bacio…Via Dell’Amore. Not only are they fun photo opportunities, but one can’t help but wonder about their origin. Is there a local story or legend? Is there a traditional ritual to do? Should we make a wish? You’ll have to decide for yourself!