Monday, November 13, 2006

Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza

Rear loggia overlooking Hanging garden

Rear loggia overlooking Hanging garden

Wall supporting Hanging garden

Entrance to palace

The inspiration for the palace was the Palazzo Rucellai in Florence.

The palace was inhabited by the Piccolomini family until the 1960s. It is now in the ownership of a charitable trust.

Inner courtyard: looking down

Inner Courtyard

Top of Inner Courtyard

Inner Courtyard

In the palace are various momentoes of subsequent generations of the Piccolomini family including a large family tree, a library, andmonuments to a later Piccolomini who commanded the Catholic armies at The Battle of the White Mountain.

Bedroom of Pius II

Three features of the palace stand out: the internal courtyard; the rear loggia which commands a view over the surrounding countryside as far as Monte Amiata; and the hanging Italian gardens.

The small hanging garden that occupies the space on the south side of the building, is surrounded on three sides by high ivy-covered walls, while on the side facing the palace it is bordered by a loggia with three tiers of arches.

A special drainage system prevents rainwater from seeping into the vaulted spaces below, in which the stables were located.

The rectangular flower-beds, surrounded by double, pruned box hedges, line two gravel paths that run at right angles to each other.

A fountain stands at the point where these meet, and the four corners of each flower-bed have umbrella-shaped laurel trees. The various rectangular flower-beds along the boundary walls are decorated with fruit trees and flowering shrubs.

A large octagonal well adorned with the crescent, keys and tiara of the Piccolomini coat of arms, and a fountain decorated with garlands of fruit are the garden's two sculptural elements - they both date back to the late 15 C. The panoramic view over Val d'Orcia, which can be admired from the three arches in the rear wall, is of primary importance in the design of this garden where architecture and nature come beautifully together.