Pienza and the Val d’Orcia are UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Pienza is a beautiful town designed by Pope Pius II, who decided to transform the looks of his birthplace and asked architect Bernardo di Matteo Gambardelli (known as Rossellino) to rebuild the entire town.

The city of Pienza was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and to this day it is a model of the Renaissance “ideal city”, because of the way it applies the Renaissance humanist concept of urban design as well as the way in which perspective was used in Pienza’s central square, open spaces and various Palazzi.

The Pienza Cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (the Duomo di Pienza), is a rare and delicate blend of late Gothic style (interior) and delicate Renaissance forms (exterior).  The inside of the Duomo boasts several artworks from the Sienese school as well as an outstanding main altar attributed to Rossellino.

The Duomo is flanked by Palazzo Piccolomini, designed by Rossellino and inspired by Palazzo Rucellai in Florence. Once the residence of the Pope, the Piccolomini Palace is now a museum showcasing relics of the Piccolomini family.

Palazzo Vescovile was commissioned by Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (then Pope Alexander VI), who later chose Pienza as his residence. The building houses the Diocesan Museum, displaying a precious collection of medieval and modern artworks from the nearby Cathedral and the Pienza diocese. 

Pienza is also rightly famous for and proud of its Pecorino cheese. You simply must take the time to taste it, accompanied with some local honey!


Monticchiello is a small hamlet of Roman origins in the municipality of Pienza. With only 200 inhabitants, Monticchiello can be easily seen from the surrounding countryside thanks to its tall tower and medieval walls. Time seems to have stopped in this small architectural jewel – tourists from all over the world keep falling in love with it.

In July and August Monticchiello hosts theatre performances by Teatro Povero (Poor Theatre) a public theatre project which started in the sixties andinvolves all the residents of Monticchiello as well as actors and spectators. The plays are based on the rural life of a family of farmers and the actors speak in the local Tuscan dialect: a truly unique cultural experience that attracts people from all over Italy and the world.

In the heart of the Val d’Orcia

San Quirico d’Orcia is a must-see medieval town in a stunning location.

The Collegiata Church, Palazzo Chigi (dating back to the seventeenth Century), Palazzo Pretorio and the old hospital of Santa Maria della Scala (dating back to the twelfth Century) are just some of the outstanding historic buildings that San Quirico d’Orcia has to offer. San Quirico’s Horti Leonini – Italian gardens renovated around 1540 by Diomede Leoni – are often the setting of contemporary sculpture exhibitions.

And make sure you don’t miss the San Quirico cypresses, which have now become a true icon of this area. They are located on a hilltop overlooking a stretch of the Via Cassia that crosses the northern part of the valley, in an area known as “I Triboli”. Cypresses are a symbol of the natural landscape, not only in the Val d’Orcia, but throughout Tuscany.


Despite being among the top tourist destinations in the area, Bagno Vignoni is a small, perfectly preserved quiet village. Its main square hosts a large thermal bath of medieval origins. Filled with natural hot spring water, the steaming bath makes the whole village feel magical.

The Parco dei Mulini, just behind the village, can be easily spotted by following the canals that flow to the thermal pools below the village. But don’t expect to find tourist restaurants here, there are only small trattorias serving typical local dishes and wines, including Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso Orcia DOC.