Ok, I admit, I am a bit obsessive. Now that I started to pay attention to how many World Heritage sites I’ve visited, I am looking for opportunities to increase my tally.
Actually, in Tuscany, I have already been – more than once in practically all cases – to most of the sites on the register. Town of Pienza was one of the few unexplored locations, and Becky and I one day took a fairly long drive from our base near Florence to visit it.
The historic center of the Pienza is inscribed on UNESCO List because it occupies a seminal position in the development of the concept of the planned “ideal town”, but you have to be a student of architectural history to fully appreciate that. For a dilettante such as myself, Pienza is a gorgeous postcard-sized hill town, with no vehicular traffic on its narrow streets and dozens of picture-spot opportunities around every corner. Not too overrun by tourists either, probably on the account of being less famous than the likes of Siena or San Gimignano as well as sitting somewhat away from the beaten path.
Looking onto the Pienza Cathedral from under the portico on the main square.
Reverse view from the cathedral (part of the portico in the frame).
This is the view along the main street in town, Corso Rosselino. Gives you some idea how narrow the smaller streets are.
The town is surrounded by another World Heritage site, Val d&Orcia. (Convenient, huh? One trip, two sites added to the total.) Its inscription is due to the beauty of its landscapes. You can take in the view right from Pienza walls.
We decided to take a leisurely drive along SP146 towards San Quirico in Val d’Orcia, which offers many good viewpoints to appreciate the scenery. Here are a couple of samples.
An extended selection of pictures from Pienza and Val d’Orcia can be found in my Flickr photostream.