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Pienza is an exquisite Renaissance doll’s house, almost too perfect for its own good. Pienza’s popularity has been boosted by its Unesco recognition and by its attraction as a film set. More heretically, visitors flock to the town almost as much for its superb array of Pecorino cheeses as for its perfect Renaissance architecture. The future Pope Pius II was born here in 1405. He commissioned Bernardo Rossellino to rebuild the village of his birth as a model Renaissance city. The result is what locals call a città d’autore, a city inspired by one vision.  After strolling around Pienza’s city walls for splendid views of Monte Amiata and Val d’Orcia, few can resist retreating to a quaint inn for lunch. Expect Pecorino sheep’s milk cheeses to be on the menu. The scenery around Pienza is equally lovely, with the town framed by chestnuts and cypresses, olive groves, poppies and sunflower fields.

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