A monumental loggia, symbol of the papal power of Pius II
The Logge del Papa (Lodges of the Pope) with their majestic Renaissance-style arches were perfectly integrated into the medieval urban fabric. They were a gift from Pope Pius II, born Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini, to his family, who had their own palace directly opposite that now houses the State Archives. They were built in 1462 by the Sienese architect Antonio Federighi, who designed a travertine facade with three Renaissance arches and elegant Corinthian capitals.
The arches are surmounted by a lintel bearing the Latin inscription ‘PIUS II PONT MAX GENTILIBVS SVIS PICCOLOMINEIS’ (Pius II Pontifex Maximus to his relatives Piccolomini), confirming Pope Piccolomini’s wish to dedicate the building to his lineage, still scattered all over the world today. Pius II, a humanist and man of letters as well as a fine politician, remains famous for the phrase ‘When I was Aeneas, no one knew me. Now that I am Pius, everyone calls me uncle’: the lodges are in fact a gift to the family but also the end point of a strong nepotism that defined his papacy.
This nepotism came in the form of elevating nephews and relatives to high ecclesiastical ranks, but it also took on an ‘urbanist’ nature. In fact, in addition to the Lodges, Pio II is responsible for re-founding Corsignano, his birthplace in Valdorcia, under the name of Pienza. The construction was entrusted to Rossellino and began in 1459 and ended on 29 August 1462 with the consecration of the Cathedral by the pontiff. A city based on the model of the ideal city founded on the basis of human needs, Pienza can be considered one of the most significant and famous legacies of the Sienese pope.
Pope Piccolomini intended to rebuild his native Pienza from the ground up to found ‘an urban centre strongly worthy of and in perfect contrast to the city that had unjustly marginalised him and his family: Siena’. To a lesser extent, Pius II continued the ‘urbanist’ nepotism by starting the construction of the Tivoli castle, which would be completed in 1560 under Pius IV and become the summer residence of the popes.
Where: Logge del Papa, Via Banchi di Sotto
When: always visible wonder