Although Pienza was given new life through the irresistible will of its papal patron, its aesthetic rebirth as a demonstration of Renaissance taste did not signal the total demise of the medieval town of Corsignano that it replaced.
In February 1459, when Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini returned to his birthplace of Corsignano as the newly-elected Pope Pius II, he found its medieval buildings, like their inhabitants, "bowed down with old age.
The metamorphosis of medieval Corsignano into Renaissance Pienza represented a multi-level endeavor which, although likely left unfinished at the death of its patron, did forever alter the structural and environmental fabric of the Tuscan hill town (Fig.
8) On 27 March, 1459, during a stopover in Siena while on his progress north to the Congress of Mantua, the pope ordered 325 ducats dispatched to Corsignano "pro fabrica seu reparatione murorum palatii castri Corcigniani," ("for the construction or rather the repair of the fortress of Corsignano,").
Apparently, as the project commenced, private funds were used for these transactions, since there is no mention of them in the account books of the Vatican until 28 December 1460, when the papal ledgers reveal the first in a series of twenty-one recorded expenditures from the Vatican treasury for work undertaken at Corsignano ending on 1 September 1462.
21) Indeed, one might argue that there are two communities on the hilltop, both a papal Pienza and an old Corsignano held in uneasy tension with each other, suspended between the high style elite and the vernacular plebeian.
Obvious counter-evidence to this traditional interpretation has also been overlooked--old Corsignano had grown up along the country road connecting San Quirico and Monticchiello, which, as the Corso, was always the main street of the town, passing from the Porta a Murello (now called the Porta al Prato) to the Porta al Ciglio.
43) The alignment of the facades along the length of the Corso strongly suggests that just such a rehabilitation was effected in the transformation of Corsignano into Pienza.
45) Such structures are not to be seen in the streets of Pienza but probably had been in evidence in old Corsignano.
50) Pius, both by dint of his family's position of prominence within old Corsignano and by his personal authority as pope and the fact that there was no contravening communal institution to gainsay his desires, was able to impose his will upon the citizenry.