If you are planning to make a trip around Tuscany’s hilltop towns, don’t forget to visit Certaldo, one of the most fascinating hamlets in the Elsa valley. It’s located between Florence and San Gimignano, and it’s also a stronghold of Via Francigena, which runs right alongside the foothill.
Certaldo is a medieval town which has preserved its original aspect since the end of 1400. Its name derives from Latin “Cerrus alto” and means “a rise covered in oak trees”. It’s an Etruscan treasure, where you can discover many archeological finds from the VI to the IV centuries BC, actually the Etruscan times.
The village around the hills is divided into two parts, Certaldo bassa, that is the newest part of the town, and Certaldo alta, that is more ancient and of course the most interesting part, since it houses the major sites.
This hamlet in the heart of Tuscany is known for being the town of the famous Italian writer, Giovanni Boccaccio, author of the Decameron and the Life of Dante. In fact, if you visit the village, you can’t miss a quick visit to the red-brick house where the writer spent his last years. Close to the house, there is the San Tommaso and Prospero church, dating back to the 13th century, which conserves the remains of the author.
After the church, another important site will catch your eye. It’s the Palazzo Pretorio, a symbol of the town. It’s worth a visit, and you can enter the museo with the same ticket of the house of Boccaccio. The front wall is filled with many coats of arms in glazed terracotta to symbolize the families of the vicars that lived and governed here.
Inside the palace, there’s also a space in Japanese style, donated by a the sister city of Kanramachi.
After the visit, I advise you to have an authentic tuscan lunch in a such cozy restaurant: A casa tua. We ate really delicious plates, like beans “all’uccelletta” and a rich selection of cold cuts.
Certaldo is very typical and small, so that you need just a day to visit it. It’s such a charming town, where the medieval spirit is still alive. That’s why it’s one my favourite villages in the area and I really hope you will have the same impression.