Mercantia Festival

The unmissable International Theatre Festival of street art in Certaldo


Son then ... what?
I put a lens
in front of my heart
to show it to people.
Who I am?
The acrobat of my soul.

                  ('Who am I?' Aldo Palazzeschi)


Who has not wished at least once, to see a fairy, a magician, an acrobat on a wire or an angel? You are not the only ones who have hoped to experience the land of Wizard of Oz or the Neverland of Peter Pan.

As you will see the Mercantia Festival in Italy is ready to satisfy you!


Mercantia Festival

First of all, where does Mercantia Festival take place? In Certaldo! Did you already know? You definitely do not miss a thing, you are always prepared! This medieval town, located in a strategic position, is, in fact, halfway between Florence and Siena, so it is perfect as an intermediate place to stop for art. Let's go back, however, to the real reason to visit Certaldo: the International theatre Festival of street art ‘Mercantia’! It is one of the most beautiful and original events during the summer in Tuscany where you can watch amazing shows and performances of all kinds

Mercantia, however, is much more than a theatre festival. In fact, for one evening, you will see how the charming and magical town of Certaldo comes alive with street performers, jugglers, contortionists, clowns, bands, food stalls, musicians, dancers, puppets, jugglers, fire eaters, magicians, sorcerers and fortune tellers. They fill the streets and squares of the upper town and you will not see a show like this elsewhere! It is not every day that you have the chance to be catapulted back in time, into a real medieval festival.

The Certaldo Mercantia Street Artists Festival will happily welcome you with its unique setting and the rest, as you will see, is pure magic, the magic of the great performing artists creating an unforgettable atmosphere and making you daydream like you are in a Tim Burton or Federico Fellini film!

In July, a great magical event awaits in Certaldo, a funny and poetic circus without borders, a host of shows, a constant surprise and a rousing soundtrack that is really impossible to resist! At this point, how could you say no to something so amazing?


MERCANTIA. At the Certaldo Festival summer is transformed and becomes a sort of suspended town where time and space are mixed through the charms and shows of the many talented artists who perform at the Mercantia Festival in Italy. The poetic idea of Alessandro Gigli has always been to create an open space, a crossing point where one can daydream. The Certaldo Festival has been called a Fourth Theatre with the intent to overcome the label of gender and with the desire to explore a fourth dimension of magic and renewal.

Another important aspect of this event is the active participation of its numerous spectators, invited to get involved without obligation of timetables and tickets. It is not uncommon for someone to be called by the public as an assistant and participant of a spectacle and, trust me, it is always an emotion that goes well beyond the first moment of embarrassment!

Mercantia is a 'different' place, located high above the city and far from ordinary events of everyday life. The Certaldo Festival changes face and places become theatres, the people are fantastic creatures and sounds are music, anything 'normal' undergoes a metamorphosis dictated by the laws of magic. As soon as you arrive you will be immediately impressed by the atmosphere and overwhelmed by this small village taken over by tightrope walkers, puppeteers, storytellers, musicians who relentlessly perform and who will be happy to make you fly with fantasy. Around you, you will see crowds of fans taking pictures and videos, excited children in front of the fire-eater, girls intent on dancing to the band and couples who stop to watch the exceptional acrobats! It will be difficult to chose which to watch! Hard to choose between this world and the real one, right?


This MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL of Mercantia in Certaldo, the birthplace of Boccaccio, is surely the perfect location to create charming and medieval characters. The cloisters, the views and the steep streets offer a stunning backdrop to the Festival. Mercantia, as well as hosting international artists and performances of all kinds, is enriched with the participation of stalls of quality and specialized craftsmanship for artists seeking stage materials such as original masks and puppets. You will find out that you will not be able to leave without buying a pair of Aladdin style trousers or a leather-bound notebook with medieval-decorations!

The medieval climate is perceived thanks to the presence of delicious delicatessen food shops and food stalls where you can eat together and drink a sip of wine watching this ‘toyland’ rotate around you! Imagine yourself in a romantic starry sky and the opportunity to see in one evening an incredible amount of curious characters and daring shows…what do you think? Is this good enough as an alternative evening during your holiday in Tuscany?


PROGRAM. Mercantia Certaldo, Italy offers its viewers, every year, a different theme, an unexpected scenery to inspire the participating artists. Here are some examples of the themes of the past: 'The Fifth Element' (2012), 'Boccaccio' (2013), 'The festival of Miracles' (2014) are just some examples.

The Festival programs of Mercantia, Certaldo are set up in every possible setting and place in town (stairs, cloisters, corners, streets, courtyards, taverns) and include a wide range of events and all types of performance.
Performers and storytellers wandering are at your disposal so you can freely choose who to follow or who pay more attention to! If mimes do not excite you, no problem you can move on to another artist or get some fortune teller to read your future for example! Do you want to buy a unicycle or have a go at training your balance? Here you can try to do it!

Therefore, with regard to the organization of the evenings, bear in mind that every day (there are more than a hundred shows per evening) shows are replicated and offered at times that allow you to follow more shows on the same date.
There are also exhibitions of contemporary artist and shops that are open until late at night and different tasty snacks to try! Stalls and craft making workshops exhibiting themed clothing, costumes, handmade earrings and jewellery, masks, leather objects, puppets and instruments for juggling, small squares, and more!
The 'Street Band' in Certaldo will accompany you throughout the evening forming the soundtrack in this magical place which comes directly from the world of fairy tales.

To fully understand what to choose among the shows offered by Mercantia, you can identify some types that you can use a reference point (although, as we said, there are no boundaries to experimentation and artistic influences!). In the Mercantia festival Italy program there are several 'pathways' of theatre: 'puppetry' (e.g. puppets), 'secret gardens' (prose theatre that takes place between small gardens and cloisters), street art Certaldo (jugglers, stilts , acrobats, storytellers, clowns, fire-eaters), 'street band' (Balkan music and touring jazz), 'one man shows' (cabaret, theatre, storytelling, poetry), 'international' (martial arts, acrobatic performances, groups coming from all over the world).


BUSKERS. Certaldo for about a week in July, becomes the home of theatre artists and various exhibitors and artisans. Who are these children of street art? Do you remember Gelsomina and Zampanò in 'The Road' by Fellini? Do you know 'Big Fish' by Tim Burton? So, add the images of these two films and add the magic chimes when you were little, the frenzy of the carnival, amusement park games, the city of fantasy in the Neverending Story by Michael Ende, the paintings of Chagall, the stories of the Arabian and One Nights and you get an idea of what you will meet when you arrive at the Mercantia!

Get ready to see beautiful butterfly-women, living statues, contortionists, giant stilt walkers, dancing musicians, bizarre costumes and poetic tricks, funny comedians and storytellers talking to the moon…and groups of acrobats, dancers with fabric wrapped round their bodies at several meters of height? You have never seen anything like it and to top it all together in one place, right? Mercantia is a concentration of energies and talents as well as unbridled imagination and desire to make you dream on lightweight wings. You will be free to stop with your daughter watching, sitting in a cloister, a puppet show or dance with your friends along the streets back and forth following the path of the bands and jugglers!
Did you fall in love with the fakir? Keep in mind that his life is not an easy one... Well, put aside all hesitations and get involved enjoying this great medieval festival! Watching the Street art in Certaldo will be a great atmosphere welcoming for you to enjoy and a good reminder for your trip to careful not fool around too much with the knife throwers, though!


HOW DOES IT WORK. When you arrive in Mercantia Certaldo, leave your car in the lower part of town in one of the parking areas and stop at the ticket office in Piazza Boccaccio (Square) before making the climb or taking the funicular (check the status of your legs) and head into the enchanted world of Mercantia! Please note that ticket prices can vary according to the event you decide to go to, such as the weekend events can be more expensive! If you are particularly keen you can even make a small subscription or try to get some reduction if you are in a group and children under seven are free!

Once in Certaldo Alta, it is easy to get lost along the streets while you explore all the attractions that appear before the eyes .... take care, when the artist goes round with the hat, make a little effort, the applause and compliments are important, but you cannot not live just on that!


We suggest that it is best to arrive at the festival before sunset in order to fully enjoy the event and to have dinner with excellent Tuscan dishes and experience the medieval atmosphere of Certaldo Festival in its best aspect! How about a bowl of tomato soup and a medieval Tuscan platter to begin with? Along Via Boccaccio you will find local taverns and ready to satisfy your taste buds! Do not forget to take this opportunity to also enjoy a delicious glass of Chianti wine.


Are you still undecided after discovering what awaits you in Mercantia? At Certaldo, the drawer of dreams is always open and ready to take you on a journey through the worlds of theatre puppets and improvisation. The atmosphere that you experience in Mercantia is the perfect place for children and for those who want to go back to relive those emotions from when you were young. You will never be too big to escape the marvel and wonder that comes from watching an acrobat on a wire or a flaming torches eater!

As written by the creator and guide of the festival, Alessandro Gigli: 'There is no theatrer in Mercantia, there is life, the theater is just an explosion of the vital energy that flows in the lleys and in the streets of the Festival'.

Indeed, it is difficult, once immersed in the world of Mercantia, to draw a clear line between dream and reality, life and representation. What do you think about it?


So what are you waiting for to live this experience and to dive into the world of magic and the amazing experience of Mercantia?

By Insidecom Editorial Staff