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Certaldo Alto, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

Certaldo: an intact medieval village in Val d’Elsa

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Certaldo is divided into an upper part, medieval, called Certaldo Alto, surrounded by fortified walls, and a modern part located in the valley below. The town is the birthplace of Giovanni Boccaccio, and still retains its ancient part of the original medieval structure with the Praetorian Palace, monasteries, churches, towers and fortifications, characteristic of the village are the red brick of the buildings and roads.

The city probably had origin in the Etruscan period, even if the first historical document is dated in 1164 when Frederick I Barbarossa gave the territory to Conti Alberti. In 1184 Certaldo was conquered from Florence, the city had a fast increase after the destruction of Semifonte in 1202. In 1425 Certaldo became the center of vicariate and the most important center of the Valdelsa, of the Val di Pesa and of part of the Valdarno.

This role was maintained during the Republic and the Medicean period. The town is the place of birth of Giovanni Boccaccio, one of the greatest Italian poets and medieval men of letters, he was the author of the celebre Decameron (written between 1349 and 1351), he spent in Certaldo the last years of his life in a house (House of Boccaccio) today a museum and a visitabile library. Boccaccio was buried to Certaldo in 1375.

Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini


The more remarkable building of Certaldo is the Palazzo Pretorio (Praetorian Palace) or Palazzo of the Vicariato, is situated on the higher point of the hill of Certaldo, the Palace was constructed in 12th century. It was the residence of the florentine governors.

On the facade of the Palace are various coats of arms and insigns in marble, stone and ceramics (some of the Della Robbia school) of the families of the governors who were in the government of Certaldo. The largest coat of arms in the center of the facade is the Medicean coat of arms. On the right of the facade is a tower with a clock of 1484.

Inside of the Palace, it’s a museum, where are visible works of Pier Francesco Fiorentino and the “Tabernacolo dei Giustiziati” of Benozzo Gozzoli and its school. A section of the museum is dedicated to the Etruscan and Roman finds discoveries in the zone. The Palace encloses also an interesting series of rooms (Atrio, Camera delle Sentenze, Sala delle Udienze, prison, Sala Grande, Sala del Consiglio, chapel and accommodation) where can be admire frescoes of the 15th and 16th century. Interesting is also the cloister of 14th century.

Affreschi, Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Frescoes, Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini


The Church of Santi Jacopo e Filippo (13th century) that it accommodates the cenotaph of Boccaccio and the grave of the Beata Giulia. In the church can be admired frescoes of the ‘300 and terrecotte robbiane.

In the historical center are interesting houses-tower, between which is that one which accommodated Giovanni Boccaccio, one of the greater poets of the medieval Italian literature. Certaldo is the center of the “Centro Nazionale di studi sul Boccaccio” and accommodates a library with several editions and numerous translations of the “Decameron” the main work of Boccaccio.

Every year in the last days of July the municipality organizes a manifestation called “Mercantia” partially theatre, partially feast and partially market with buskers, actors, acrobats, singers and craftsmen who show their works.

Some km from Certaldo along the road to Marcialla are the ruins of the castle of Pogni.

Certaldo, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Certaldo, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini


Certaldo is a medieval village located in the Val d’Elsa, in the province of Florence, at about 55 km from Florence.

Car: To reach Certaldo, coming from Florence, take the Raccordo Autostradale Firenze-Siena (at the exit Florence-Certosa of the A1) and after 30 km exit at Poggibonsi Nord, from here continue for about 14 km follow the signs to Certaldo. Coming from Siena, always with the Raccordo Autostradale Florence-Siena, exit Poggibonsi Nord and then follow the indications for Certaldo (from the exit are approximately 14 km).

Road distances: San Gimignano 12 km, Poggibonsi 14 km; Volterra 39 km, Siena 43 km, Florence 58 km, Pisa 72 km, Lucca 67 km.

Bus: Certaldo is regularly served by numerous daily bus of Lazzi that connect to Castelfiorentino and Empoli. The SITA bus link Certaldo to Barberino Val d’Elsa and Florence.

Train: The train station of Certaldo is situated along the railway line Empoli-Siena. There are numerous daily connections with Siena, Florence and Empoli.

Air: The nearest airport is Florence-Peretola Amerigo Vespucci, which is located 47 km away. The airport of Pisa Galileo Galilei is 70 km away.




Weekly Market: Wednesday
Via Giacomo Matteotti, from 8.00 to 13.00.

Tourist Information Office
Piazza Masini c/o Stazione Ferroviaria
tel. +39 0571 656721


  • AA. VV. “Firenze e provincia” Guide Rosse Touring Club Italiano, 2007
  • Allegri Francesca; Tosi Massimo “Certaldo” Federighi, 2004
  • cur. Stopani R.; Vanni F. “Certaldo e la Via Francigena” Firenzelibri, 2008



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