|Many thanks to Francesco Pignatale for the photos of Pienza|
see more photos on this link
One of my favorite Tuscan towns is Pienza with its charming piazzas, quaint street names, floral displays and magnificent Renaissance architecture. The area‘s landscapes, cypress avenues, fields of grain and orderly vineyards are mirrored in paintings conserved in the Duomo and museum .
The town’s most famous son Aeneas Silvio Piccolomini, future Pope Pius II, was born here in 1405 when the town was called Corsignano.
The family crest, 5 half moons on a cross, decorates the Piccolomini library inside Siena’s Duomo.
|Aeneas Silvio Piccolomini second from left, in red.|
|a perfect Renaissance courtyard|
Here Pinturicchio’s fresco cycle shows the high points of Piccolomini's careers as diplomat, poet, humanist and pope. His secret memoirs or Commentaries written in the third person are lively accounts of shipwrecks and travels to Libyia, Norway, England and Scotland.
|Duomo of Pienza and Rossellino's fountain|
He was sent to Scotland in 1435 on a secret diplomatic mission and during the terrifying sea voyage made a vow to walk barefoot to a shrine in thanksgiving.
The ensuing frostbite afflicted him for the rest of his life making the sedan chair his preferable method of transport.
If you visit Pienza keep in mind as you sip a glass of local red wine and stroll around this perfect Renaissance city that it was a local boy who gave us one of the earliest first hand descriptions of Scotland, the land, its people, their strange habits and the fact that they have no wine to go with their oysters.
|Entering Pienza's pedestrian zone|
“ Below the ground is found a sulphurous rock, which they dig for fuel. The cities have no walls. The houses are usually constructed without mortar; their roofs are covered with turf; and the country doorways are closed with oxhides.
The common people, who are poor and rude, stuff themselves with meat and fish, but eat bread as a luxury.
The men are short and brave; the women fair, charming, and easily won.
Women there think less of a kiss than in Italy of a touch of a hand.
They have no wine except what they import. Their horses are small and natural trotters. They keep a few for breeding and castrate the rest. They do not curry them with iron or comb them with wooden combs or guide them with bridles.
The oysters are larger than those in England and many pearls are found in them ".
Comments are welcome. Please share with friends by using the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons.
Have you been to Pienza? How have things changed in Scotland since Piccolomini's visit ?