(b. 1409, Settignano, d. 1464, Firenze)

Cathedral and Palazzo Piccolomini

Piazza Pio II, Pienza

Although Sienese, Pope Pius II (originally Enea Silvio Piccolomini) had actually been born in a small town south of Siena called Corsignano. Beginning in 1459, he attempted to establish this town as a papal seat. In 1462 he rechristened it Pienza in honour of himself, rated it to a bishopric, and hired Bernardo Rossellino, who had previously been a capomaestro on Nicholas V's new apse and transepts for St Peter's and had worked in an elaborated classicising style in Florence, to transform its centre into a suitably coherent setting for the town's new status.

Rosselino's plan was determined in part by pre-existing streets, by the medieval town hall at the site, and by the precipitous drop of the hill where Pius planned a new cathedral. To either side of the cathedral Rosselino placed the bishop's palace and Pius's own palace, forming a trapezoidal piazza. Pius's own coat-of-arms appears prominently in the gable of the cathedral, whose triple-arched façade recalls ancient Roman triumphal arches.

View the ground plan of Piazza Pio II, Pienza.