By Ela Vasilescu – Writer –
Certaldo is a small town in the province of Florence, located in the middle of Valdelsa. The city is divided into an upper and a lower part, tied together by a funicular railway that operates every 15 minutes. While the lower part of the town, Certaldo Basso is a modern, functional city, the upper part, Certaldo Alto is a glimpse into a perfectly preserved medieval world. The red brick walls, narrow streets, and vintage shops allure tourists to explore, to get lost into its beauty and charm.
Aside from beautiful street art festivals, such as Mercantia, food fairs and artisan markets, one of the most popular attractions of the city is the house of famous poet and author of the Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio.
“Certaldo, as maybe you have heard, is a castle in Val d’Elsa in which despite its small size was inhabited by noble and well-to-do men” (Decameron, VI, 10). This is how famous literary scholar Giovanni Boccaccio described his city during the middle of the XIV Century. The poet’s home, now transformed into a museum curated by the Giovanni Boccaccio National Institute, is a place of undying inspiration, for anyone who crosses its threshold. Almost completely destroyed after the terrible bombardment of 1944, the house was rebuilt and it now hosts an impressive library, open to scholars, containing a unique and comprehensive collection of works by and about Boccaccio in Italian, as well as many volumes in other languages. The beautiful loggia on the top floor faces a gorgeous panorama over Valdelsa, almost making one wonder if the great author had drawn inspiration from this beautiful sight when writing his masterpieces.
The city of Certaldo keeps Boccaccio’s spirit alive, through many events and festivals. Every second Friday of the month takes place Si racconta le novelle del Boccaccio, an event where the stories of the Decameron are read aloud while accompanied by live music. Cena da Messer Boccaccio is another important event held in June that includes meals, tableware and entertainment in typical medieval style. Every year in September the Premio Letterario Giovanni Boccaccio is awarded to the best Italian writers and journalists and the first week of October is reserved for food and wine lovers who are invited to take part at the Boccaccesca Festival.
Together with Petrarca and other humanists, Boccaccio has transformed the small town of Certaldo into a real European cultural center.