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Pienza

Pienza

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Pienza, a town and comune
Comune
In Italy, the comune is the basic administrative division, and may be properly approximated in casual speech by the English word township or municipality.-Importance and function:...

in the province of Siena
Province of Siena
The Province of Siena is a province in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Siena.It has an area of 3,821 km² , and a total population of 252,288 . There are 36 comuni in the province...

, in the Val d'Orcia in Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

 (central Italy), between the towns of Montepulciano
Montepulciano
Montepulciano is a medieval and Renaissance hill town and comune in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany, in Italy. Montepulciano, with an elevation of 605 m, sits on a high limestone ridge. By car it is 13 km E of Pienza; 70 km SE of Siena, 124 km SE of Florence, and...

 and Montalcino
Montalcino
Montalcino is a hilltown and comune in Tuscany, Italy. It is famous for its Brunello di Montalcino wine.The town is located to the west of Pienza, close to the Crete Senesi in Val d'Orcia. It is 42 km from Siena, 110 km from Florence and 150 km from Pisa...

, is the "touchstone of Renaissance urbanism."

In 1996, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 declared the town a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

, and in 2004 the entire valley, the Val d'Orcia, was included on the list of UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

's World Cultural Landscapes.

History


Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, which was the birthplace (1405) of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini
Piccolomini
Piccolomini is the name of an Italian noble family, which was prominent in Siena from the beginning of the 13th century onwards. In 1220, Engelberto d'Ugo Piccolomini received the fief of Montertari in Val d'Orcia from the emperor Frederick II as a reward for services rendered...

 (Italian: Enea Silvio Piccolomini), a Renaissance humanist born into an exiled Sienese family, who later became Pope Pius II
Pope Pius II
Pope Pius II, born Enea Silvio Piccolomini was Pope from August 19, 1458 until his death in 1464. Pius II was born at Corsignano in the Sienese territory of a noble but decayed family...

. Once he became Pope, Piccolomini had the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 town. Intended as a retreat from Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, it represents the first application of humanist urban planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

 concepts, creating an impetus for planning that was adopted in other Italian towns and cities and eventually spread to other European centers.

The rebuilding was done by Florentine architect Bernardo Gambarelli (known as Bernardo Rossellino
Bernardo Rossellino
Bernardo di Matteo del Borra Gamberelli , better known as Bernardo Rossellino, was an Italian sculptor and architect, the elder brother of the sculptor Antonio Rossellino...

) who may have worked with the humanist and architect Leon Battista Alberti, though there are no documents to prove it for sure. Alberti was in the employ of the Papal Curia at the time and served as an advisor to Pius. Construction started about 1459. Pope Pius II consecrated the Duomo on August 29, 1462, during his long summer visit. He included a detailed description of the structures in his Commentaries, written during the last two years of his life.

Palazzo Piccolomini


The trapezoidal piazza is defined by four buildings. The principal residence, Palazzo Piccolomini, is on the east side. It has three stories, articulated by pilasters and entablature courses, with a twin-lighted cross window set within each bay. This structure is similar to Alberti's Palazzo Rucellai
Palazzo Rucellai
Palazzo Rucellai is a palatial 15th century townhouse on the Via della Vigna Nuova in Florence, Italy. The Rucellai Palace is believed by most scholars to have been designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino...

 in Florence and other later palaces. Noteworthy is the internal court of the palazzo. The back of the palace, to the south, is defined by loggia
Loggia
Loggia is the name given to an architectural feature, originally of Minoan design. They are often a gallery or corridor at ground level, sometimes higher, on the facade of a building and open to the air on one side, where it is supported by columns or pierced openings in the wall...

 on all three floors that overlook an enclosed Italian Renaissance garden
Italian Renaissance garden
The Italian Renaissance garden was a new style of garden which emerged in the late 15th century at villas in Rome and Florence, inspired by classical ideals of order and beauty, and intended for the pleasure of the view of the garden and the landscape beyond, for contemplation, and for the...

 with Giardino all'italiana
Giardino all'italiana
The Giardino all'italiana, Garden all'italiana or Italian garden, is a style of garden from Italy based on symmetry, perfect geometry and the principle of imposing order over nature. It was influenced by Roman gardening and Italian Renaissance gardening, and has been copied by other courts around...

era modifications, and spectacular views into the distant landscape of the Val d'Orcia and Pope Pius's beloved Mount Amiata beyond. Below this garden is a vaulted stable that had stalls for 100 horses.

The Duomo


The Duomo (Cathedral), which dominates the center of the piazza, has a facade that is one of the earliest designed in the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 manner. Though the tripartite division is conventional, the use of pilasters and of columns, standing on high dado
Dado (architecture)
In architectural terminology, the dado, borrowed from Italian meaning die or plinth, is the lower part of a wall, below the dado rail and above the skirting board....

s and linked by arch
Arch
An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

es, was novel for the time. The bell tower
Campanile
Campanile is an Italian word meaning "bell tower" . The term applies to bell towers which are either part of a larger building or free-standing, although in American English, the latter meaning has become prevalent.The most famous campanile is probably the Leaning Tower of Pisa...

, however, has a Germanic flavor as is the layout of the Hallenkirche plan, a "triple-nave" plan where the side aisles are almost as tall as the nave; Pius, before he became pope, served many years in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and praised the effects of light admitted into the German hall churches in his Commentari. Works of art in the duomo include five altar paintings from the Sienese School
Sienese School
The Sienese School of painting flourished in Siena, Italy between the 13th and 15th centuries and for a time rivaled Florence, though it was more conservative, being inclined towards the decorative beauty and elegant grace of late Gothic art...

, by Sano di Pietro
Sano di Pietro
Sano di Pietro was an early Italian Renaissance painter and miniaturist from Siena.No works by Sano are known before 1443; he apprenticed under Sassetta and Giovanni di Paolo...

, Matteo di Giovanni
Matteo di Giovanni
Matteo di Giovanni c. 1430 - 1495) was an Italian Renaissance artist from the Sienese school.-Biography:Matteo di Giovanni di Bartolo was born in Borgo Sansepolcro around 1430. His family relocated to Siena and he is firmly associated with the art of that city...

, Vecchietta
Vecchietta
Francesco di Giorgio e di Lorenzo , known as Vecchietta or Lorenzo di Pietro, was an Italian Sienese School painter, sculptor, goldsmith and architect of the Renaissance...

 and Giovanni di Paolo
Giovanni di Paolo
Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia was an Italian painter, working primarily in Siena. He may have apprenticed with Taddeo di Bartolo, becoming a prolific painter and illustrator of manuscripts, including Dante's texts....

. The Baptistry, dedicated as usual to San Giovanni
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, is located next to the apse of the church.

Palazzo Vescovile


Pius encouraged his cardinals to build palazzi to complete the city. Palazzo Vescovile, on the third side of the piazza, was built to house the bishops who would travel to Pienza to attend the pope. Its construction was financed by Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (the future Pope Alexander VI but, at the time, Vatican Vice-Chancellor). It may represent a remodeling of the old town hall of Corsignano. It is now home to the Diocesan Museum, and the Museo della Cattedrale. The collection includes local textile work as well as religious artifacts. Paintings include a 12th-century painted crucifix from the Abbey of San Pietro in Vollore, 14th century works by Pietro Lorenzetti
Pietro Lorenzetti
Pietro Lorenzetti was an Italian painter, active between approximately 1306 and 1345. His younger brother was the painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti....

 (Madonna with Child) and Bartolo di Fredi
Bartolo di Fredi
Bartolo di Fredi , sometimes called Bartolo Battiloro, was an Italian painter, born in Siena, classified as a member of the Sienese School....

 (Madonna della Misericordia). There are also important works from the 14th and 15th centuries, including a Madonna attributed to Luca Signorelli
Luca Signorelli
Luca Signorelli was an Italian Renaissance painter who was noted in particular for his ability as a draughtsman and his use of foreshortening...

.

Palazzo Comunale


Across from the church is the town hall, or Palazzo Comunale. When Corsigniano was given the status of an official city, a Palazzo was required that would be in keeping with the "city's" new urban position, though it was certainly more for show than anything else. It has a three-arched loggia on the ground floor facing the Cathedral and above it is the council chamber. It also has a brick bell tower that is shorter than its counterpart at the cathedral, to symbolize the superior power of the church. The set-back addition to the tower dates from 1599. It is likely that Bernardo Rossellino designed the Palazzo Comunale to be a free dsstanding civic mediator between the religious space before the cathedral and secular market square to its rear.

The travertine well in the Piazza carries the Piccolomini family crest, and was widely copied in Tuscany during the following century. The well-head resembles a fluted, shallow Etrucan Bowl. The flanking Corinthian support a classical entablature columns whose decorations are clearly based upon actual source materials

Other buildings


Other buildings in Pienza dating from the era of Pius II include the Ammannati Palace, named for Cardinal Jacopo Piccolomini-Ammannati
Jacopo Piccolomini-Ammannati
Jacopo Piccolomini-Ammannati, or Giacomo Piccolomini was an Italian Renaissance cardinal and humanist.-Biography:...

, a "curial row" of three palaces (the Palazzo Jouffroy or Atrebatense belonging to Cardinal Jean Jouffroy
Jean Jouffroy
Jean Jouffroy was a French prelate and diplomat.He was born at Luxeuil-les-Bains . After entering the Benedictine order and teaching at the university of Pavia from 1435 to 1438, he became almoner to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, who entrusted him with diplomatic missions in France, Italy,...

, the Palazzo Buonconti, belonging to Vatican Treasurer Giliforte dei Buonconti, and the Palazzo Lolli constructed by apostolic secretary and papal relative Gregorio Lolli) arranged along the street behind the Bishops Palace. In the northeastern corner of Pienza is a series of
twelve row houses constructed at the orders of the pope by the Sienese building contractor Pietro Paolo da Porrina.

About fifty meters west of the Cathedral Piazza is the church of San Francesco, with a gabled facade and Gothic portal. Among the buildings that survived from the old Corsignano, it is built on a pre-existing church that dated from the 8th century. The interior contains frescoes depicting the life of Saint Francis
Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St...

, those on the walls having been painted by Cristofano di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero, 14th century artists of the Sienese School
Sienese School
The Sienese School of painting flourished in Siena, Italy between the 13th and 15th centuries and for a time rivaled Florence, though it was more conservative, being inclined towards the decorative beauty and elegant grace of late Gothic art...

.

The Romanesque Pieve
Pieve
In the Middle Ages, a pieve was a rural church with a baptistery, upon which other churches without baptisteries depended.The Italian word pieve is descended from Latin plebs which, after the expansion of Christianity in Italy, was applied to the community of baptized people...

of Corsignano is located in the neighbourhood. The monastery of Sant'Anna in Camprena was founded in 1332-1334 by Bernardo Tolomei
Bernardo Tolomei
Saint Bernardo Tolomei was an Italian theologian, the founder of the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto. In the Roman Martyrology he is commemorated on August 20, but in the Benedictine calendar his optional memorial is celebrated on the previous day...

 as a hermitage for the Benedictines; it was remade in the late 15th-early 16th century, and several times in the following centuries. The refectory houses frescoes by il Sodoma
Il Sodoma
Il Sodoma was the name given to the Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Antonio Bazzi. Il Sodoma painted in a manner that superimposed the High Renaissance style of early 16th-century Rome onto the traditions of the provincial Sienese school; he spent the bulk of his professional life in Siena,...

 (1502–1503).

The frazione of Monticchiello is home to a characteristic Romitorio, a series of grottoes carved in the rock by hermit monks. In the same locality is the pieve
Pieve
In the Middle Ages, a pieve was a rural church with a baptistery, upon which other churches without baptisteries depended.The Italian word pieve is descended from Latin plebs which, after the expansion of Christianity in Italy, was applied to the community of baptized people...

of Santi Leonardo e Cristoforo, rebuilt in the 13th century in Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 style. The interior has frescoes from a 14th century Sienese painter, a cyborium
Ciborium (architecture)
In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary, that stands over and covers the altar in a basilica or other church. It may also be known by the more general term of baldachin, though ciborium is often considered more correct...

in the shape of a small Gothic portal and an alte 15th century Crucifix. At San Pietro in Campo are the remains of the eponymous abbey.

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