I prefer this little Renaissance jewel above all the other hill towns in the Val d'Orcia and there are many. Pope Pius II, of the powerful Piccolomini family had the dream to turn his home town into a perfect city with funds from the Vatican. I'm glad they stopped building when they did and the result is not a city spreading across the Tuscan hills, but a perfect little jewel. Stand in the main Piazza Pio and admire the perfect symmetry of the Duomo, the Palazzo Piccolomini and the Town Hall. Be sure to walk along the ramparts for the amazing views over the Val d'Orcia and to see the large crack in the Duomo; visit it before it slides downhill, for no one can figure out how to shore it up. I have been here often, but visited the Palazzo Piccolomini for the first time with a friend and took the necessary tour with audio guide. Well worth the price of 7 Euro, walking from room to room with complete description of what amounted to the history of this illustrious family who had two Popes. Wander the small streets and sample the famous Pecorino cheese which wafts out of the little shops. Several outstanding restaurants with the local fare of pici pasta, ribolitta soup, and heavenly crespelle. Even the house red wine is sublime. I prefer this town over the famous Montepulciano by far. It has a special place in my heart in any season! Luckily I live just an hour away and I'll be back in the spring to see the little flower pots stuffed with blooms.
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