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Certaldo Alto, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

Certaldo: an intact medieval village in Val d’Elsa

The town of 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The city probably had origin in the Etruscan period, even if the first historical document is dated in 1164 when Frederick I Barbarossa gave the territory to Conti Alberti.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. Certaldo 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 Certaldo 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

MUSEUMS OF CERTALDO

CASA DEL BOCCACCIO (BOCCACCIO’S HOUSE)

The building, which according to some historical sources was the home of Giovanni Boccaccio, retains some traces of the original medieval structure. The current structure was rebuilt in style after the damage made by the Second World War. The house-museum was opened in order to spread knowledge about the works and the figure of Giovanni Boccaccio.

Address: Via Boccaccio Certaldo (Florence). Opening Hours: Daily 9.30 am – 7.00 pm.

MUSEO DEL PALAZZO PRETORIO (MUSEUM OF THE PRETORIAN PALACE)

The Museum of Palazzo Pretorio is formed by the same building which houses some works of Pier Francesco Fiorentino and the frescoes of the tabernacle of executed made by Benozzo Gozzoli and his workshop. The museum also preserved Etruscans and Romans archaeological finds found nearby. The Praetorian Palace was built in the twelfth century, the facade retains its many coats of arms in marble, stone and fine examples of della Robbia school. The Praetorian Palace is also the main expo area of Certaldo, there are hosting exhibitions of various kinds, conferences, seminars and theatrical performances.

Address: Piazzetta del Vicariato 3 Certaldo (Florence). Opening Hours: From April to September 9,30 am – 2,00 pm and 2,30 pm – 7,00 pm; from October to March 9,30 am – 4,30 pm every day.

MUSEO DI ARTE SACRA (SACRED ART MUSEUM)

Porta del Sole, Certaldo, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Porta del Sole, Certaldo, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

The Museum of Sacred Art is located in the center of Certaldo Alto between Praetorian Palace and the Casa del Boccaccio in adjacent premises and in the cloister of the Church of Saints Philip and Jacob, whose origin dates back to the twelfth century. The church, which houses the burial of the Blessed Giulia patron of Certaldo and the cenotaph of Boccaccio, was an Augustinian convent from the beginning of the fifteenth century until 1783. The museum houses works that come from churches in the territory of Certaldo as the church of San Jacopo e Filippo, the church of Santa Maria a Bagnano, the Oratorio di San Pietro a Petrognano, the parish church of San Lazzaro a Lucardo.

Important works: Master of Bigallo, Wood with the enthroned Madonna and Child with Saints, 1240 c. Meliore, Tavola della Madonna Enthroned with Child and two angels, 1270 c. Ugolino di Nerio, Triptych on board with the Madonna and Child between Saints Peter and Romulus, 1315 c. Tuscan sculptor of the first half of the thirteenth century., Wooden crucifix, 1240 c.

Address: Piazza Santi Jacopo and Filippo 2 Certaldo Alto Certaldo (Florence). Opening Hours: from April to September every day 9,30 am – 2 pm and 2,30 pm – 7 pm; from October to March every day 9,30 am – 4,30 pm.

Affreschi, Chiesa di San Tommaso e Prospero, Certaldo, Firenze. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Frescoes, Church of San Tommaso e Prospero, Certaldo, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

HOW TO GET TO CERTALDO

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

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

By Bus: Certaldo is regularly served by numerous daily bus of Lazzi that connect to Castelfiorentino and Empoli along the road Certaldo-Castelfiorentino-Empoli, and Gambassi, Montaione and San Miniato along the road Certaldo-Gambassi-Montaione-S.Miniato. The SITA bus link Certaldo to Barberino Val d’Elsa and Florence.

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

By 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.

Certaldo

Certaldo

USEFUL INFORMATION:

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

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • 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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