Certaldo is a Tuscan town of about 16,000 inhabitants located in the Florentine Province, on the border with the Province of Siena, in the center of the Valdelsa. The small town is the birthplace of Giovanni Boccaccio. We’re not sure if Boccaccio was born here but died on 21 December 1375 in Certaldo Alto, a stunning example of a medieval village still well preserved with numerous artistic and historical testimonies.
The town of Certaldo is divided into two parts: Certaldo Alto, the most purely medieval area, where we find the Palazzo Pretorio and the Castle, which can also be reached by cable car from Piazza Boccaccio; Certaldo Basso, the most modern part, which saw a moment of significant development, especially with Baroque art and in the eighteenth century.
The origins of this charming town date back to Roman times, when the Etruscans populated the area of Tuscany; on the Poggio del Boccaccio, northwest of the medieval village, remains of these settlements have also been found.
We should remember that the important Via Francigena, linking Rome with Gaul, passed through this countryside. Hence, the town also proved to be a strategic point for trade and resources that flowed here thanks to the passage of conspicuous caravans.
When Boccaccio lived in Certaldo, the town was a charming village in the prime of his years, populated by fewer inhabitants than today’s 16,000, but no less lively for this. The famous Italian writer chose to return right here at the end of his life, after years of activity in Florence and Naples, indeed great cities for developing his compositions and operas.
Boccaccio’s house is still there, a splendid testimony that has spanned the centuries without giving signs of yielding: even if it was bombed during the years of fascism and the Second World War, the restoration carried out by the Marquise Carlotta Lenzoni de’ Medici proved to be fundamental.
Boccaccio’s house, however, is not the only place of interest in Certaldo: walking through the narrow streets of the upper part, you can see the Palazzo Pretorio, a vital sign left by the Middle Ages here in the Valdelsa and of which we already know from 1164.