Jane’s Guide to Pienza
Pienza is the heart of Tuscany in Italy. Located between Florence and Rome, this beautiful hill town is considered the “capital” of pecorino cheese. The cheese is of an especially high quality due to the fact that the cheese is made from the flavorsome milk that comes from the sheep who graze in the pastures of the Val d’Orcia(Orcia Valley).
Where to stay in Pienza
Rent your own apartment to feel like a local in Pienza.
Or stay in the gorgeous Bellavita B&B where you’ll be served breakfast on a patio with a view.
For a family stay in Pienza, consider Spagna5, a luxury holiday home in the heart of town.
What to do in Pienza
Try to get lost. It will be hard to do because Pienza is just not that big, which makes it a great place to wander. As you wander past the 15th century buildings, you’re sure to eventually stumble on amazing viewpoints of the surrounding Tuscan hills.
Visit the cathedral and the palazzos. Pienza earned its status as a UNESCO world heritage site because of the architecture. It was the birth town of Pope Pius II, and so he had it completely rebuilt by the famous architect Bernardo Rossellino. The square and surrounding palazzos served as a model for many other towns in Italy. Palazzo Borgia houses a museum collection of local textile work and religious artifacts.
Shop for Tuscan linens and pottery. Even if you don’t want the burden of schlepping a stack of dishes back home, you should at least have a gander at the beautiful Italian ceramics. For classic Tuscan designs, visit Ceramiche D’arte Barbieri Silvia and for bold colored patterns and exquisite linens, check out Dedalo.
Go on a pecorino cheese tour. Pecorino is a hard cheese that is used for grating like Parmesan, but it’s made from sheep’s milk so it has a more earthy flavor. On the first Sunday of September, you can catch the local celebration of pecorino. If you don’t go on a tour or you can’t come for the festival, you can sample many varieties of pecorino at La Bottega del Cacio.
Discover Brunello wines. Brunello is one of those wines you must try at least once in your life. It has to be made from a local Tuscan type of Sangiovese that is noted for having thicker-skinned berries and produces wines with exceptionally bold fruit flavors. A Brunello reaches perfection a decade or after it’s produced and it is worth the wait. Wine shops and restaurants in Pienza are great places to taste different Brunello wines because of its proximity to the Montalcino hills where the grapes are grown.
Dine with a local. Italian mamas are famous for their cooking, so why not try being the guest of one? Speaking of eating, there is so much delicious food in Pienza. The only difficulty will be trying to choose where to go.
Where to eat in Pienza
My favorite restaurant in Pienza is probably Latte de Luna. If the sun is out, you can sit outside to enjoy hearty Tuscan pasta dishes with local wines. I make sure to stop in here every time I visit Pienza.
La Taverna di Re Artù is a darling little restaurant tucked away in a corner of Pienza. They have great veggie and vegan options, as well as traditional Tuscan fare.
Baccus L’Osteria is another great choice for classical dishes of Tuscany.
For pizza, you can’t miss with Pizzeria La Mensa del Conte. La combriccola is a bit at the edge of town, but also has delicious pizza as well as other food and a great wine selection.
If you just want drinks and a small snack, head to Bar Il Casello for a wine bar with a view.
And of course, if it’s gelato you’re after, you won’t ever be too far from a gelato shop in Pienza. I especially like to get my limone gelato at Gelateria Artigianale.
How to get to Pienza
There is no train station in Pienza, but you can travel there by bus from Siena or Montepulciano. Alternatively, if you’re in a rental car for your time in Tuscany, you can easily park on the outskirts of Pienza.