Tuscany is filled with beautiful scenery. The rolling green hills, vineyards and crumbling hilltop towns create postcard-like views at every turn. The hilltop towns are ideal for honeymooners who want to spend their first married days in Italy's most-famous wine region. Not only do these enclaves offer amazing views, they ooze romantic atmosphere. One of these villages, Pienza, is a standout for newlywed vacationers.
Situated in the Val d’Orcia, Pienza boasts UNESCO World Heritage status because of its Renaissance-era streets and buildings. Pienza wasn’t always a beautiful place. The settlement was the hometown of Pope Pius II. He used his status and wealth to renovate the town during the Italian Renaissance. He built palaces, a grand piazza and a cathedral. He actually renamed the town after himself (Pienza means “Pio’s Town”).
In modern times, this charming village has become a haven for travelers. For honeymooners, it is the perfect base for exploring southern Tuscany.
What To Do
Pienza presents just the right amount of sightseeing opportunities, and it also allows visitors to embrace the idea of dolce far niente, an Italian phrase that translates as "the sweetness of doing nothing." Pienza features a number of historic attractions beginning with its 15th century Duomo built by the famous architect Rossellino. The medieval streets of town also contain a number of palazzi, including the headlining palace: the Palazzo Piccolomini. Commissioned by Pope Pius II, this building has 100 rooms, some of which you can visit as part of a guided tour.
In addition to seeing the sights within the village itself, honeymooners can easily take day trips to explore the other hilltops towns in the area. Montalcino, San Quirico, Montepulciano and Montichiello are all very close to Pienza. And, of course, this is Tuscany, so the area is filled with vineyards where visitors can sample world-class wines.
If are you looking to base yourself in the Pienza area, La Bandita is a standout option. This boutique hotel sits near the historic part of the town. It also offers amazing views of the Val d'Orcia. Owned by former music mogul John Voigtmann, this honeymoon retreat boasts its own private villas and suites. With just eight rooms, La Bandita provides the intimacy and privacy couples crave on their honeymoon. Amenities include complimentary breakfast, bottomless cappuccinos and an infinity pool overlooking the valley.
What To Eat
While in Pienza, you will never have a grumbling stomach, especially if you love cheese. The hilltop village is known for its smooth sheep’s milk pecorino cheese. If you are visiting the first weekend in September, you will get to experience the Fiera di Cacio. This is when the town celebrates its beloved cheeses.
If you can’t visit in September, Pienza features plenty of cheese shops where you can purchase a wedge to take on a picnic. Some go-to places for cheese include La Bottega del Cacio and La Bottega del Naturista. Fans of The English Patient, which was filmed in Pienza, might want to stop at Latte di Luna, a homey trattoria that became a favorite of the cast and crew while they were filming in town.
If you want to spend your honeymoon in Pienza, you can fly into Florence or Pisa. While you might be tempted to catch a train to Pienza, the connections can be very difficult to time correctly. It is best to just rent a car from either airport and take a road trip through Tuscany. You can even stop at vineyards along the way. After you reach Pienza, however, you should park your car at your accommodations and leave it there. This is because it can be a challenge to park in Pienza’s narrow streets.
Where would you go on a Tuscan honeymoon? Share your favorite destinations in the comments below.