Certaldo, Boccaccio’s city, is located on a hill and the oldest part is surrounded by old city walls. It has preserved medieval style with its old buildings, some of them built throughout several centuries.
The main one is Palazzo Pretorio, the house where the famous Medieval poet Giovanni Boccaccio, author of Decameron was born; St. John and Jacopo Church.
Buildings and streets are all made of red cotto bricks for a well determined reason: they were used so often because they don’t absorb rainy waters which flew into the underground which is composed of clay, so that waters remain there. This is why wells in Certaldo are never dry and the village is always rich of water!
Throughout the year several festivals take place in Certaldo. The most famous one is Mercantia, a festival where lots of street performers and artisan from Italy and Europe gather together.
San Gimignano, is an ancient, walled city famous for its architecture and for its beautiful medieval towers that make it unique. In the most flourishing period, the rich families of San Gimignano came to build as many as 72 towers as symbols of their wealth and power. Today there are 14 of these that help to make it even more fascinating the atmosphere. Declared a World Heritage of ‘Humanity’ by UNESCO in 1990, also offers excellent local products such as saffron and white wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Monteriggioni is another gem not to be missed. It ‘s a small fortified village situated on an hill overlooking the beautiful landscape of the surrounding countryside. It’s surrounded by a mighty and magnificent city walls. Piazza Roma, where stands the Church of the Assumption, is the heart of this magnificent village of Chianti. Every year in July it hosts a famous medieval festival.
Still a fascinating medieval town, Volterra preserves its medieval structure almost unchanged, dominating the Cecina Valley. This town is mostly famous for the alabaster and its workshops.
An interesting square to visit is Piazza dei Priori, with the beautiful Palazzo dei Priori and other buildings that surround the square.
Other main attractions in this town are: the Roman Theatre (1st century BC), the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Medicean Fortress (Maschio), which is now a penitentiary, with its wonderful park and views; Palazzo Vescovile, Palazzo Incontri, Palazzo del Monte Pio.
In the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum there is a wonderful collection of funeral urns. Another beautiful museum is that of the Alabaster.
Volterra was built in very ancient times; its Etruscan Walls as well as the Etruscan tombs in the nearby area witness its long history and importance.
There are several Etruscan and Medieval gates along the walls: Porta a Selci, Porta Marcoli.
COLLE VAL D’ELSA
Colle di Val d’Elsa, City oh Crystal, is internationally renowned for the production of crystal glassware and art, largely produced in the industrial lower town. The town is also Arnolfo di Cambio’s birthplace, a famous medieval sculptor and architect. The oldest part of the town is the “colle alta”, the higher part, with a well preserved medieval centre with city walls. The town developed along the river from the 11th century onwards, building an artificial canal to power various industrial activities, such as wheat mills and paper factories.
There are some important museums there, the Museum of Civic and Religious Art and the Archeological Museum.