How Corsignano became Pienza

"Pienza nata da un pensiero d'amore e da un sogno di bellezza" (Pienza created by a thought of love and a dream of beauty) by Giovanni Pascoli, writer and poet. It's difficult to find a better description of Pienza. In XXV century Pienza was one of the many beautiful hamlets pitting Val d'Orcia, at the time it was called Corsignano, few inhabitants, mostly in poor conditions. Nevertheless Pienza happened to be a small property of an affluent Siena family that for politically reasons had to leave Siena and their properties over there and was forced to move to Corsignano. The name of the family was Piccolomini and it was in Corsignano on October 18, 1405 that the young Enea Silvio was born, last out of 18 children. Notwithstanding the shrunken family fortunes he could attend university and though he was studying law he found classic literature much more exciting and it was reported that he certainly had a good time in Siena. He was supposed to remain in Siena once appointed professor but his career soon found him engaged in politics as secretary of the rebel Bishop Capranica on 1431, then we find him at the Court of Frederic III as official poet writing poems and books in 1442. He was a brilliant, highly educated, successful worldly man and no one at that time could figure him as a man of the cloth. It is said that Lord works in mysterious ways and possibly this is the case when in 1445 Enea Silvio fell severely hill and while recovering he got conscious of his questionable morality and dramatically changed his life. Just in 1446 he took vows and thanks to his background and capacities he became Bishop of Trieste in 1447 under Pope Nicolò V who estimated Enea Silvio for his great diplomatic skills. It is a matter of fact that Enea Silvio, once enemy of Rome Pope was able to achieve a settlement in between Pope Eugenio and the rebel Frederic III. In 1456 he was named Cardinal under Pope Callisto III. Callisto died shortly afterwards on August 6, 1458 and few days later on 19 Enea Silvio was elected Pope. He chose as name Pius in memory of his beloved poet Virgilius. He was only 53 though he was aware of his not good health and because of this he threw himself in pursuing all those important changes within the Church and outside he had previously envisaged . He spent his few left years in a frantic activity founding a university in Basel, reforming the Church, organizing crusades to regain Constantinople and not forgetting his native village and his family and still writing. Just a year after he decided to rebuild his Corsignano and appointed already famous Bernardo Rossellino as architect. Enea Silvio was anyway a highly educated man of his times and did not simply decided to make Corsignano beautiful, he wanted to follow Leon Battista Alberti and his guidelines of the ideal town centred on the human being needs. The town was built in only 3 years and Enea Silvio, and Pius II, returned to his village to consecrate the Cathedral.

And this is how the reborn Corsignano became Pienza i.e. the town of Pius.




Pienza was indeed born from a sentiment of love, of rational love for the native village and a dream of beauty in between humanism and renaissance.