Toscana - Places to Visit - Pienza
The village that saw the birth of Enea Silvio Piccolomini and that was supposed to disappear with the rose of Pienza, was called Corsignano, and it was a Senese fortress.
Some documents around the year 1000, testify its story in the war events of the major towns nearby. In 1251 the town was involved in the dispute between Guelph and Ghibelline, and, in 1269 there are some very heavy questions with a rich land owner called Bertolo that cut provisions to the inhabitants of the village.
A document of 1393 assures us how the toll to be paid at Siena was changed by wax in money just to do the Palio. We only have a few traces of what remains of the walls of Corsignano in Gozzante Road and a Romanesque church at three kilometres from Pienza.
Pienza is the only town in the surrounding area where it is possible to admire clearly the birth : it has been built on a town planning by Pope Pio II - Enea Silvio Piccolomini - as soon as he mounted the pontifical throne in 1558. High on the Orcia Valley, at east of the mount and near three lakes (Trasimeno, Chiusi and Montepulciano) rises Cortona, and at south part of Amiata Mount rules Torrita, Asciano, S. Giovanni dAsso surrounded by the Orcia valley and the hills of Chianti.
Pienza rose in not more than three years and got the name from Pope Pio II. This Pope wanted to rise an elegant town because he wanted it to become a place of rest for him and his court : He was happy of the architects work and he didnt feel sorry that he had already shown an untrue budget, on the contrary he was pleased, writing to Rossellino, he stated : "it is owed to your lie, Bernardo, if these noble places...this church which is admired by the hole world...- goes on the Pope - could be built."
Pio II wanted also to converge waters of Vivo and drain them into Orcia to form a large artificial lake - as Campano tells us, biographer of this Pope and writer of his court - to create a fishery for defence against enemies. Just under Bagno Vigoni, where the Pope wanted to divert waters, it seems already that the Etruscans had done some very wise and opportune drainage. The lake which Pope Pio II wanted to create was never made. Pienza accommodated this humanists prelate court and beauty lovers, and conserves the renaissance life that was lived in Rome.
Thanks to its position the town played a role of great importance in wars which saw Medicean arms and those imperial run into the French ones, jointed to the republic of Siena in Montalcino (1550-60) and the town was raid fifteen times. It went under Medici and followed the destiny of other Tuscany towns. We remember besides the sacks which Pienza treasures went through under the Napoleons dominion. Enea Silvio Piccolomini became Pope with the name of Pio II, charged Bernardo Rossellino, Florentine architect and sculptor, disciple of
Leon Battista Alberti, to renovate the town planning of the old and poor suburb of Corsignano in the renaissance town of Pienza ; planned between 1459 and 1562, concentrated around the principal square, keeps the signs of a fast and hurried flowering.
The principal square is surrounded by the Duomo, Palazzo Piccolomini, Palazzo Borgia and Palazzo dei Priori. Other houses and palaces were built around the principal buildings and scattered for the streets of Pienza. They were built with the same taste and materials as the Rossellinos buildings, under Pietro Paolo del Porrinas surveillance. The constructions have an Albertin style, mixed with ancient taste.