Pienza is a delightful village which was almost completely redesigned by Pope Pius II in 1459, to transform the look of his birthplace. He chose the architect Bernardo Rossellino, who applied the principles of his mentor, Leon Battista Alberti. This new vision of urban space was realized in the superb square known as Piazza Pio II and the buildings around it: the Piccolomini Palace, the Borgia Palace and the cathedral with its pure Renaissance exterior and an interior in the late Gothic style of south German churches.
You can sample the king of all sheep cheeses, Pienza's own pecorino (or cacio). You can get it fresco (fresh), semistagionato (partially aged), or stagionato (aged and suitable for grating, though it really needs a few extra years for that). Many pecorini are also dusted with ground materials to keep them soft and alter the taste slightly. Most popular are cenerato or sottocenere (an ash coating that's mainly a softening technique), peperocinato (hot peppers), and tartufato (truffles). A few producers even mix ingredients directly into the cheese (tartufi are a favorite), but others claim this mars the purity of the pecorino. Luckily, you can judge for yourself, as pecorino tasting is even more popular here than wine tasting.
Pienza is a favorite of Tuscan Muse guests, photographers, artists, cooks and writers who participate in our tours of Tuscany, photography workshops, painting workshops, culinary workshops and writing workshops in Tuscany.