Pienza is a small town situated in the Val d'Orcia, in the southern part of Tuscany. It's just 15 kilometres from Montepulciano, 20 from Montalcino and about 50 kilometres away from Siena.
The name comes from Pope Pius II, who was born here, and it means the city of Pius. Enea Silvio Piccolomini, elected Pope Pius II in 1458, wanted to transform his birthplace, the anonymous village of Corsignano, into the ideal Renaissance town. For this reason he hired Bernardo Rossellino, the architect who had previously worked with Leon Battista Alberti (famous for creating the façade of Santa Maria Novella), to build Pienza in accordance with humanist urban planning concepts. The construction of Pienza started around 1459 on top of the ancient hamlet and took about four years, creating a harmonious fifteenth-century town. The untimely death of Pope Pius II put a stop to the urban reorganization of the new city, which has remained practically unchanged over the centuries.