Certaldo in Tuscany Italy is famous for being the birthplace of the poet Giovanni Boccaccio. The name comes from the Latin 'cerrus altus' which translated literally means 'hill covered with oaks'. This medieval town is currently divided into two parts, Certaldo Basso (Borgo) and Certaldo Alto (Castle), connected by funicular for those who cannot or do not want to do the 'pettata' (steep uphill) walk! Certaldo Alto is the old part of the citadel that is rich in monuments, churches and scenic spots that are very striking.
From Certaldo, the province of Florence Italy and the city of Siena can be reached in less than an hour, so this lovely village can be an intermediate step on the way to visit the two famous cities.
Immersed in the Val d'Elsa Florence, this city will surprise you with its scenery and its peaceful atmosphere.
If you decide to stay: what to see in Certaldo and what to visit in Certaldo will be informed by toscanainside.com! This small town is full of charm and its small size will allow you to admire it in its entirety in a short time. To learn more about Certaldo, Italy history (Boccaccio would be very proud of you), and its artistic treasures we advise you to continue reading...
WHAT TO SEE. You have to visit the old town (the part defined as Certaldo Alta) to see the most interesting buildings. Once you reach the medieval village, you will find yourself in front of narrow streets and small squares that line the main street, Via Certaldo Boccaccio, home to the famous Church of Saints Jacopo and Filippo, the most important religious building in the town. In Romanesque style and with a graceful asymmetrical cloister, the church has two elements of great interest: the cenotaph of the great poet and the remains of the Blessed Giulia. Also known as Giulia della Rena, she was a religious person who lived as a hermit during the 14th century and spent her life intent on praying in a cell in the village of Certaldo, Italy. Also worth seeing are the 13th century wooden crucifix of Petrognano and the two ciboria at the sides of the apse, the oldest, from the late 15th century by Benedict Buglioni and the other from the 16th century, made by the workshop of Andrea della Robbia. Once out of the church, you should visit the Museum of Sacred Art where there are many works from the 13th century onwards.
The second destination of the tour of Certaldo is the famous Praetorian Palace, the historic residence of the family of the Counts Alberti (12th century) and symbolic place of the civil power. What remains today of the original is the Mastio, while the rest has been rebuilt in the 15th century: you can visit the old prison and the historical archive. In the noble rooms, the room of the knights houses a Madonna and Child (1489) by Pier Francesco Fiorentino and a Crucifixion (1478), while in the House of Judgments you will find a Pietà, also designed by the Florentine artist.
An entire floor of the building is dedicated to temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists.
Not forgetting also the painted coats of arms in the courtyard, by to the workshops of Buglioni and Della Robbia, and a Zen garden with a Japanese tea house created by the artist Hidetoshi Nagasawa.
Near the palace is the Church of Saints Tommaso and Prospero: do not miss the Tabernacolo dei Giustiziati (Tabernacle of the Executed) and the cycle of frescoes with scenes of the Passion painted by Bernardo Gozzoli and his collaborators.
Among other monuments, Certaldo hosts the 14th century Stiozzi Ridolfi Palace, complete with two towers and a large courtyard; other important buildings include the Giannozzi Palace and the Giannozzi Machiavelli Palace.
WHO IS BOCCACCIO? He was born around 1313 in Certaldo in Tuscany. Giovanni Boccaccio was one of the most representative and important poets of his century and, along with Dante and Petrarch, he was considered one of the three crowns of the Italian literary language (Fiorentina). The poet spent the last years of his life, until his death in 1375, at his home in Certaldo that you can visit today. The museum house of Boccaccio overlooks the main street of the village - which also takes the writer's name - and houses a magnificent library with rare and ancient documents. Here you will also find the site of the research centre where you can find out more about the poet and the manuscripts of the Decameron.
Visiting Certaldo is an ideal opportunity to look into your own school memories for some reminiscence of that wonderful world of short stories created by Boccaccio. The link between Certaldo and Boccaccio is traceable in the sixth round (History of Friar Cipolla) where the poet, through the words of the narrator Dioneo, describes his hometown: 'Certaldo, as you may have heard, is a castle in Val Elsa placed in our county, which, although small is inhabited by noble and wealthy men’.
If you do not you know this story, then take a copy of the Decameron in Certaldo Boccaccio’s house if you like, and discover how much fun and deep are the stories collected in this great work that has always inspired artists, poets and film directors, such as the great Pier Paolo Pasolini.
You will be definitely moved by the sad story of Lisabetta da Messina and you'll be ready, however, to laugh out loud for the pranks of Buffalmacco a Calandrino in search of a magic stone called heliotrope!
CERTALDO (Italy) HISTORY already originated in the Etruscan period of which we have evidence through artefacts and tombs found after excavations. Later the Latin dominance caused the town, on the hill, to increase its territory and its economy. Since the dawn of the Middle Ages the town became a bulwark independently ruled by the Alberti dynasty, who tried to remove Certaldo from Florence and its sphere of control. The town, thanks to its position along the Via Francigena, played an important role for commercial traffic throughout the entire region.
Certaldo in Tuscany thus became a landmark and a place of exchange for the merchants who were heading north. The power of the Medici came during the 15th century when the town of Val d'Elsa was conquered. Certaldo fell consequently under the rule of Florence and was dedicated mainly to agricultural practices that were organized and expanded at the foot of its hill.
CERTALDO TOURISM. The town and its surrounding area are a great starting point for visiting different and interesting cities of Tuscany: you can get to nearby Florence and Siena, or choose the more original places such as Volterra, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni. If you have already visited many cities and medieval villages, we suggest you dedicate yourself to the Chianti hills to enjoy the landscape and their wine cellars!
If instead you prefer to explore the area around this medieval village, you should visit the abandoned Pogni Castle: its ruins are fascinating and will allow you to view part of the wonderful Florentine countryside.
For those who prefer areas completely surrounded by nature, we highly recommend the Canonica Park and the River Park, both close to the town of Certaldo and ideal for a fun picnic with the family!
Among the nearby places to discover as part of Certaldo tourism, there is also the Church of San Lazzaro in Lucardo, less than ten kilometres from Certaldo. A must for those interested in Romanesque places, the Church of San Lazzaro is one of the most characteristic of the entire area of the Val d'Elsa. With a map of Certaldo on hand, you will see that it is a short distance and once on route the landscape will give you great satisfaction!
EVENTS. Certaldo, despite being a small ('Picciol' as Boccaccio would say) medieval village, is also rich in interesting events. First of all, the magical and wonderful festival of street theatre 'Mercantia'. If you want to make a gift to your children, go to Certaldo on a July evening to discover this amazing medieval festival of art and music that brings to Certaldo a tourism characterized by large crowds and visitors of all ages.
Finally there are two events dedicated to the poet's house: 'Boccaccio & the Arts' in the winter months of December and January, and the 'Boccaccesca' in autumn, to celebrate the flavours of the local cuisine in honour of the writer who gave voice to human pleasures and distractions in literature.
Wrap yourself in the atmosphere of these celebrations in Certaldo, eating and drinking always go hand in hand with music and entertainment for children!
What are the dishes to try? All of them, as long as they are based on onions! We are not kidding, the traditional product of Certaldo is onion. Its intense and slightly sweet flavour makes it perfect for tasty soups and delicious jam spread on cheese! It is a product of really great quality!
Do not miss the small town of Certaldo, Florence, Italy, a charming medieval town, and birthplace of one of the most important and studied poets of Italian literature ... you could get the inspiration for a story, you never know!
Certaldo tourist information: do not hesitate to make a tour of the fascinating hills around Florence and discover this place full of charm and poetry!
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