Amid Tuscany’s picture-perfect rolling hills and under its forget-me-not blue skies lies Italy’s UNESCO Heritage Pienza, a mini utopia, considered by many to be the “ideal city of the Renaissance”.
Pienza, “the City of Pius”, was built by Pope Pius II in 1459 in an attempt to turn his birthplace into Italy’s first model city. Founded on Renaissance concepts and ancient philosophical and geometric ideals, the little city of Pienza is a strikingly beautiful and ordered fifteenth century culture hub, built with the help of architect Bernardo "il Rossellino” and under the guidance of the great humanist thinker, Leon Battista Alberti.
A place of Renaissance idealism on a tiny scale, however, Pope Pius II only lived to see two years of building, and so only a fraction of the intended city was ever built: the papal palace, a cathedral, a fragment of the town hall and a well. All in all, it takes about three minutes to walk from one side of the city of Pienza to the other, which in city-planning terms, is a wonderfully short commute.