Medieval Villages in Tuscany - Certaldo
Its history is documented since 1164 when Federico Barbarossa accorded the territory to the Alberti counts, who ruled there until the end of 13th century.
In 1293 the castle passed under the Florentine seignory, as an out-post on the Via Francigena, traced along the valley foot of the Elsa. After the desctruction of the close fortress of Pogni and Semifonte, Certaldo became walled up land, and since 1415was the seat of the three Vicariates of Florentine Republic, that of the Valdelsa, assuming the role of the most important political and judicial centre of the territory.
The castle has an irregular shape like a sort of up-side-down L surrounded by a still almost intact circle of walls built in different epochs and in which open three doors: the Aberto one in the west, the Porta al Sole in the direction of Siena and the Porta al Rivellino placed on the edge of the L towards south-east, In the most crucial and high part of the castle, that were the two main roads meet, stands leaning against the walls the most important building, the Palazzo Pretorio, formerly seat of the Vicar, which was built in different stages on the structure of the ancient Alberti's fortress, of which remains the 12th century circular tower, even if the most vast and relevant intervention took place at the beginning of the 14th century.
|Certaldo - Palazzo Pretorio|
|Certaldo - Palazzo Pretorio Courtyard|
It is one of the most characteristic and articulated of the public palaces in Tuscany, with a multifunctional, we may say today, interior since it gathers a residential quarter of the Vicar, an audience hall, a hall seat of the local court, a meeting hall for the government, a jail with men's and womens sections, a courtyard with open gallery.The facade shows more than thirty vicarial coats of arm, aslo stretching to the vestibule and in the courtyard. An outside ope gallery proves a further public function of the building, near which stands the late-Romanesque church os Santi Tommaso and Prospero.
|Certaldo - Santi Tommaso and Prospero Church|
Along the roads there are 13th-14th and XV century buildings, characterized by the warm tones of terracotta, that has also a match in the road paving.
Among these, much restored, is also the house of Giovanni Boccaccio, died here in 1373. His tomb and his cenotaph are in the church of Santi Jacopo and Michele, other building characterising the urban landscape of Certaldo, a sample of late-Romanesque brickwork building with a doule order cloister.
(Source: Bruno Bruchi e Alessandro Naldi, Medieval Villages in Tuscany.)