Pienza & “The Medici”

Season 2, “The Magnificent,” of “The Medici” series can now be streamed on Netflix. The 8 episodes comprising this season focus on Lorenzo de’Medici. Viewers of the series will have noticed that the Tuscan town of Pienza features prominently.

At the heart of Pienza is a small trapezoidal piazza framed by the Duomo, the Bishop’s Palace, the Palazzo Comunale, and the Palazzo Piccolomini. Between 1459 and 1464 the fabric of town was re-imagined by Pope Pius II who hoped to leave a lasting legacy in his birthplace. In June of 1462, Corsignano was renamed for its papal son.

Architectural historians note that Leon Battista Alberti and contemporary Renaissance urban planning ideals likely influenced the design executed by Florentine architect. Bernardo Rossellino.

Anchoring the central piazza, the white marble facade of the Duomo includes the Piccolomini crest which fills the pediment and is visible both from outside of town and from the upper-windows of the facing government building. The classically-inspired facade contrasts with the interior which draws more heavily from Pope Pius II’s experiences in Gothic churches.

Next to the Cathedral is the Palazzo Piccolomini. This building combines the traditions of the urban palazzo with suburban villas. The rear of the building includes open loggias, a hanging garden, and view into the countryside.

One hint of pre-Renaissance Corsignano can be found outside the town walls today; Santi Vito e Modesto is an Romanesque Church and includes a number of carved relief panels.

References: Thomas, Anabel. “Pienza.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press; Mack, Charles R. Pienza: The Creation of a Renaissance City. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987; “Filming and Production” Medici (TV Series)


Image credits:

Trailer, Medici: The Magnificence.

Duomo, exterior and interior (1459-64)

Palazzo Piccolomini, exterior and courtyard (1459-64)

Santi Vito e Modesto (12th C)

Photo credit: Jennifer D. Webb


Further Reading: Caspar Pearson. Humanism and the Urban World: Leon Battista Alberti and the Renaissance City. University Park PA: Penn State University Press, 2011; Pius II. Commentaries. Vol.1. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Posted by Jennifer D. Webb

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