A short walk from Pienza lies a hidden jewel of Romanesque architecture. The Pieve di Corsignano is an enchanting church which has the added benefit of being in a sublime rural setting.
It might be the location, its simplicity, or the luminous colour of the tufa rock, but this church is surely one of the most atmospheric in Val D’Orcia.
Visitors here won’t find any audio-guides or helpful placards, but for once it’s a blessing. It’s unspoiled perfection gives you the feeling that you have somehow stepped back in time.
There has been a church here since the 7th century. The work that was done in the facades dates back to the 12th century, and it’s rich in Medieval symbolism.
It all has a distinctively Lombardic influence including the bifora/mullioned windows. Notice the double tailed siren on the main door and the nativity scene on the south facing door. It has a cylindrical bell tower that is very unusual for this area, though it would have been taller originally.
The interior of the Pieve di Corsignano:
Inside through the soft suffused light you can make out three naves, each one with its own altar.
It’s spartan interior doesn’t give any clues as to the importance of its past. After all the church’s original baptismal font is the same one at which pope Pius II was baptised and his nephew Pius III. The crypt is the most ancient part of the church, which is worth a look. Before you go don’t miss the intertwined serpents on the third column and the stone screen with its high medieval carvings.
Go in autumn when the leaves around the church are changing colour. and you’ll see for yourself why this is one of Tuscany’s most enduringly beautiful pieve.
How to get there:
The Pieve dei Santi Vito e Modesto in Corsignano is less than 1 km. from Pienza. To reach it, if you come from Montepulciano, take the panoramic road to the left at the entrance of Pienza . After a bit short of one km. you’ll see a sign to the pieve.