City Spotlight: Certaldo, discovering unconventional Tuscany
Tuscany is one of the most visited regions in the world. It is one of the symbols of Italy and dolce vita, where you can eat delicious food, taste excellent wine while looking at stunning landscapes.
And yes this is Tuscany! Unfortunately most of the visitors will never know the real taste of my beautiful region, because they don’t know that there is much more to see than Florence, Siena and Chianti. Of course these are the most important areas, but Tuscany is not just that.
If you want to experience Tuscany, to really blend with locals and get a taste of dolce vita I suggest you visit Valdelsa and its beautiful hamlets such as Certaldo, one of my favorite place down there.
Certaldo is a small medieval hamlet where time stopped by at the Middle Ages. It is located on top of a hill surrounded by round and green hills designed by vineyards and olive groves.
A bit of history
It dates back to Etruscan-Roman Era, but had its major splendor in the Middle Ages when it played an important role to control the area during the fights between Florence and Semifonte, and then between Florence and Siena.
It became part of the Florentine Republic in 1184 and in 1313 gave birth to one of the most famous Italian writer and poet Giovanni Boccaccio, who wrote the Decameron. In 15th century Certaldo had its major splendor and chronicles reports that there was an hospital and a school, since it was the major Vicariate of the area. After the 16th century Certaldo didn’t grow any longer and started slowly to falter.
Since then the hamlet didn’t change that much and it preserves its original beauty.
What to see
Certaldo is the perfect destination for a day out in Tuscany. The best thing to do is to walk around; just wander, while you’re taking pictures of its streets and secrete gardens. Feel its ancient history and enjoy its daily life.
Visit Palazzo Pretorio, the old town hall where you can see the ancient jails, and Boccaccio House where the great poet was born. Inside the former Church of Santi Tommaso and Prospero look at the incredible Giustiziati tabernacle by renaissance painter Benozzo Gozzoli.
Then visit the Church of Santi Jacopo and Filippo, where there is the tomb of Bocaccio, and then the Sacred Art Museum exposing great artworks. Take a walk in via del Rivellino and look at the landscape where you can easily recognize San Gimignano into the landscape.
What to do
What I love about Certaldo, it’s the relaxing and familiar atmosphere. It’s the perfect place for a slow day and a full immersion in the Italian dolce vita where you can have delicious Tuscan food, excellent wine while looking at a stunning landscape.
If you want you can take a cooking class at the Giuseppina Cooking School where you can learn to make hand made pasta to prepare the perfect Italian dinner. Or you can have lunch at Messer Boccaccio, typical Tuscan restaurant with a panoramic terrace. Or what about taking a cappuccino at La Dolce Vita while chatting with locals?
My suggestion: blend with locals and enjoy Italian life style!
A bit more
If you want to discover more and you’re visiting Tuscany, I recommend you download for free TooMuchcertaldo, the guide of Certaldo available for iPhone and Android!
And if you want to discover more about Tuscany, come and visit my blog about unconventional Tuscany, TooMuchTuscany, where you can find information about destinations, events and other peculiarities about my lovely region.