Abbadia San Salvatore

Abbey of Sant'Antimo




Archipelago Toscano




Badia di Coltibuono

Bagni San Filippo

Bagno Vignoni

Barberino Val d'Elsa


Bolsena Lake


Brunello di Montalcino




Castel del Piano



Castellina in Chianti


Castelnuovo Bererdenga

Castiglioncello Bandini

Castiglione della Pescaia

Castiglione d'Orcia

Castiglion Fiorentino



Chinaciano Terme




Città di Castello

CivitÀ di Bagnoregio

Colle Val d'Elsa


Crete Senesi

Diaccia Botrona

Isola d'Elba



Gaiole in Chianti



Greve in Chianti


Lago Trasimeno

La Foce



Massa Marittima

Montagnola Senese


Monte Amiata

Monte Argentario





Monte Oliveto Maggiore








Parco Naturale della Maremma







Radda in Chianti



San Bruzio

San Casciano dei Bagni

San Galgano

San Gimignano

San Giovanni d'Asso

San Quirico d'Orcia


Santa Fiora














Tavernelle Val di Pesa

Torrita di Siena




Val d'Elsa

Val di Merse

Val d'Orcia

Valle d'Ombrone




Walking in Tuscany

Certaldo, as you may have heard, is a burgh of Val d'Elsa situate in our country, which, small though it be, was once inhabited by gentlemen and men of substance. And thither, for that he found good pasture there, one of the friars of the order of saint Anthony was long used to resort once a year, to get in the alms bestowed by simpletons upon him and his brethren. His name was   Fra Cipolla and he was gladly seen there, no less belike, for his name sake than for other reasons, seeing that these parts produce onions that are famous throughout   all Tuscany"  

(Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron - VI, 10 - 1866, translation by John Payne)     

album Surroundings


Certaldo is a small and unspoilt hilltop village with Etruscan origin, very well-preserved in every detail.
This small town still retains its ancient part of the original medieval structure with the Praetorian Palace, monasteries, churches, towers, fortifications and the characteristic red brick buildings and roads.
The town of Certaldo is divided into an upper part, medieval and more picturesque called Certaldo Alto and a modern part located in the valley below.[1]
Certaldo received the Orange Flag, a recognition of quality small towns with a population 15,000 or less.

Certaldo was the home of the family of Giovanni Boccaccio, who died and was buried here in 1375.
Boccaccio's house, of red brick, like the other old houses here, was restored in 1823 and furnished with old furniture. A statue of him was erected in the main square in 1875.
The Palazzo Pretorio, or Vicariale, the residence of the Florentine governors, recently restored to its original condition, has a picturesque facade adorned with ceramic coats of arms, and in the interior are various frescoes dating from the 13th to the 16th century.

Certaldo's most representative Monument is the Palazzo Pretorio, or Palazzo dei Vicari located at the top of Via Boccaccio. The Palazzo Pretorio, ancient seat of authority, was built in the 12 th century. It was first the residence of the Counts Alberti, then it was expanded and modified to house the functions of the Vicarage: its prisons, audience hall, archives, chapel, and private quarters can still be visited today. The palace was garrisoned by guards whose lodgings, next to the palace, a little below the grooms' house and across from the hayloft, are now private residences. On the façade and inside are many emblems in marble and in glazed terracotta of the della Robbia School: each of them exhibits the arms of the family of each Vicar who has governed and lived here. Each elected Vicar had full powers of life and death on the people under his jurisdiction. There are two large gardens, one of which houses the contemporary artwork The teahouse garden by Hidetoshi Nagasawa. In the Palace and in the adjacent Church of St. Thomas and Prosper, one can admire 15 th and 16 th century frescoes and sinopias; the Church houses the most important work, The Tabernacle of the Executed (c. 1464/65), a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli. Originally, this work was located in the plain, near the Agliena stream: those sentenced to death, before their execution, were brought near this frescoed chapel (The Tabernacle of the Executed), where they received the last solace. The chapel is still visible under the bridge, on the right side coming from Poggibonsi.  

Boccaccio's House Museum  

Boccaccio's House, now a Museum open to the public, is near the middle of Via Boccaccio. What we see today is a reconstruction virtually faithful to the original; in fact, during World War II, it was hit by a bomb that almost completely destroyed it. On the external façade, one can note that the right side of the building contains some darker coloured bricks: they are the oldest and they testify to what remains of the original. The house, headquarters of the National Giovanni Boccaccio Society, is now a museum and it houses a specialised library, consecrated to the great poet's life and work. Inside are also a large fresco by Pietro Benvenuti (1820) and some rare examples of 14 th century shoes, found during the restorations. The House also hosts the headquarters of the National Coordination, Houses of Memory.

Museum of Sacred Art  

The Museum of Sacred Art was originally an Augustinian convent from the 15th century. Beautifully restored and turned into a museum, it was inaugurated in 2001.

The exhibition rooms showcase paintings, sculptures and sacred relics and items. The painting gallery, or pinacoteca, is in the old frescoed refectory of the convent, and today showcases ancient paintings that date back to the 12th century to the 16th century.

Here, you can admire works by such distinguished artists as Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni, Ugolino di Nerio and Meliore. Among the important works present is a wooden crucifix, from the San Pietro a Petrognano church, which dates back to the early 13th century. It has been attributed to an unknown Tuscan sculptor.

It is, indeed, unique in the world of medieval Italian sculpture: the image of Christ, triumphant over Death, has gained much recognition in art criticism thanks to the sculpture's expressive force.  

Other monuments and Churches  

Within the Borgo are various buildings of historical and artistic interest such as the various noble houses: Palazzo Stiozzi Ridolfi (14 th century), now private, and Palazzo Giannozzi, across each other on Via Boccaccio, where is also found the  'Tower House' of Palazzo Machiavelli.

Palazzo Giannozzi

Ancient estate palace, it is now occupied by artisanal shops that carry out current work. Here one finds the "Nail Museum", unusual collection, by the artistcarpenter Giancarlo Masini, composed of nails of all kinds and eras, as well as of implements from a peasant culture and woodcarvings.
Church of St. Jacopo and Filippo and Romanesque Cloister  

The Church of St. Jacopo and Filippo goes back to the 12 th - 13 th century. Inside its single nave, it houses frescoes, sculptures, and glazed terracotta ciboria of the della Robbia School. In the middle, near the bas-relief depicting Boccaccio, is the poet's tomb. The church also houses the urn of the Blessed Giulia (1319-1367), fascinating legends exist on the life of this figure as a cloistered nun. From the Church one enters the Augustinian Convent with an especially striking Romanesque Cloister that allows access to the Blessed Giulia's cell, fully preserved through time.  

The Ancient Gates of Access to the Historical Borgo  

At the top of Costa Alberti rises the imposing Porta Alberti that, with the Porta al Rivellino and the Porta del Sole, was one of the ancient entrances to the historical Borgo: the present road connecting Upper and Lower Certaldo is, in fact, of recent construction.  
The Porta Alberti, preserved almost intact, is placed half way up a very steep climb, as imposed by the era's defensive architecture, so that it would have been extremely difficult to knock it down, even with the aid of battering rams, because of the steep slope.  
The Porta al Rivellino, which commands a beautiful view of the valley, was the most heavily fortified because it was placed 'in front of' the bordering and hostile province of   Siena from whose attacks it had to defend itself.  
Turning right from the Porta al Rivellino, one goes along Via Valdracca that ends at the last of the three old gates: the Porta del Sole, the main one of the Borgo, so called because of its orientation: in its arch are still visible some frescoes that testify to its importance. Above its central arch one can see the coat of arms of the counts Alberti.    

San Donnino - Semifonte  

Heading towards Barberino Val d'Elsa, we find, in San Donnino, St. Michael Archangel's cupola, a reproduction 'in scale' of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence's Duomo.) It was built on a design by Santi di Tito in the 16 th century in memory of the ancient city of Semifonte, destroyed by the Florentines in 1202. The rivalry between the flourishing Semifonte and Florence is also witnessed by the old   saying: "Florence move away, Semifonte leads the way." 

The Parish Church of St. Lazzaro a Lucardo

On the road that leads from Certaldo to the hamlet of Fiano, in a pristine setting, one finds the Parish Church of St. Lazzaro a Lucardo. Its structure and architectural details are notable as is the view of the Tuscan country that can be admired from the courtyard in front of the church.   
Documented since 987, the Romanesque structures are still visible in the building: the basilical plan parted by pillars. The three naves end with apses which, on the outside, have a niches motif and, just in the central apse, one with dentils. The façade is framed by two pilasters which follow the profile of the central nave. The round arched porch has an arched lintel with a dentils motif. Inside, some pillars hold frescos attributed to Cenni di Francesco. 


The town hosts several festivals a year. The largest and most famous is Mercantia, a week-long party in Certaldo Alto. It involves numerous street performers from across Italy, Europe and even the Americas.
In the Palace and in the adjacent Church of St. Thomas and Prosper, one can admire 15 th and 16 th century frescoes and sinopias; the Church houses the most important work, The Tabernacle of the Executed (c. 1464/65), a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli.


Certaldo, Palazzo Pretorio

La chiesa dei Santi Tommaso e Prospero

La chiesa dei Santi Tommaso e Prospero, interiore


Pier Francesco Fiorentino, Incredulità San Tommaso

Pier Francesco Fiorentino, Angeli reggicortina (detail), Certaldo, Ex chiesa dei Santi Tommaso e Prospero °

Porta Alberti



Benozzo Gozzoli | Tabernacle of the Condemned

Benozzo Gozzoli, Tabernacle of the Condemned: Descent from the Cross, 1464-1466, Certaldo, Palazzo Pretorio, Cappella San Tommaso

class="tekst">Benozzo Gozzoli's (1420-1497) main works are three extensive cycles of frescoes. The cycle decorating the main apsidal chapel of the Church of San Francesco in Montefalco depicts episodes and deeds from the life of St Francis. The cyle depicting the Procession of the Magi with decorative charm coupled with Flemish realism was executed on the walls of the private chapel of the Medicis' residence in Florence. The cycle of St Augustine is in the apsidal chapel of the church of Sant'Agostino in San Gimignano.
And in 1467 he painted the Tabernacle of the Executed, and the Shrine of the Visitation, the detached frescoes are now on display in the Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo, and in the Biblioteca Comunale, Castelfiorentino, respectively.

Palazzo Pretorio, the most representative monument in Certaldo, was the ancient residence of the Alberti Counts, which they built in the late-12th century atop the ruins of the family's former homes.

The building has arched windows a facade decorated with merlons and a tower, and a court adorned with coats of arms in stone and glazed terracotta, representing the families of each of the vicars that lived in and governed from there.
Today, the prisons are still visible as are the meeting rooms, the archive, the chapel and the private lodgings of the vicars. On its facade and inside its courtyard are numerous coats of arms, representing the families of each of the vicars that lived in and governed from there.

The interior is decorated with frescoes dating from the I3th to the 16th century. Do not miss the Knights Room with paintings by Francesco Fiorentino (1445-1497), the “Madonna and Child” and “Dead Christ”, and the Audience Hall with paintings of Francesco Fiorentino too, the “Pietà” and “Doubting Thomas”. Next to Palazzo Pertorio is the San Tommaso and Prospero church (Church of St. Thomas and Prosper), which dates back to the 13th century, where one can admire 15 th and 16 th century frescoes and sinopias; the Church houses the most important work, The Tabernacle of the Executed (c. 1464/65), a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli. Originally, this work was located in the plain, near the Agliena stream: those sentenced to death, before their execution, were brought near this frescoed chapel (The Tabernacle of the Executed), where they received the last solace. The chapel is still visible under the bridge, on the right side coming from Poggibonsi.

Art in Tuscany | Benozzo Gozzoli | Tabernacle of the Condemned, Certaldo

Tabernacolo dei Giustiziati, affreschi staccati

Deposizione dalla Croce, facciata principale

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benozzo Gozzoli (b. ca. 1420, Firenze, d. 1497, Pistoia) was an early Italian Renaissance painter. He was the son of the tailor Lese di Sandro, his original name is Benozzo di Lese di Sandro. His father was from a citified branch of a family of farmers. The name Gozzoli, which though absent from the 1550 edition of Vasari's Lives, appeared in that of 1568 comes from the name "Ghozzolo" common in the other branch of the family, the one that had remained in the country.
Gozzoli's formative collaborations included those with Lorenzo and Vittorio Ghiberti on the third bronze door of the Baptistery, Florence (1444), with Fra Angelico on the pictorial decoration of the Dominican convent of San Marco in Florence (1444-45), with Fra Angelico on some frescoes in the chapel of Pope Nicholas V in the Vatican (1447), and again with Fra Angelico on the ceiling of the Chapel of San Brizio in the cathedral at Orvieto (1448).
In 1450 he was in Montefalco in Umbria where his first independent works were executed. He left frescoes in the churches of S. Fortunato and produced a panel painting of the Madonna della Cintola for the high altar (now in the Pinacoteca, Vatican). For the church of S. Francesco, the Franciscans commissioned from him the fresco cycle with Scenes from the Life of St Francis (1450-52). At Viterbo he painted nine frescoes of scenes from St Rose's life (after 1453), which were lost during the course of extension work in the church in 1632.
Between 1456 and 1459 Benozzo put in an irregular appearance in various places in Central Italy. He painted an altarpiece at Perugia for Collegio Gerolominiano (1456); at Sermoneta he painted a Madonna in Glory for the cathedral (1458). He was in Rome in 1458, working on the displays (flags and standards) for the coronation ceremony of Pius II. In Rome he also frescoed the Albertoni chapel in Santa Maria d'Aracoeli of which a St Anthony of Padua survives.
In 1459 Benozzo was summoned to Florence by the city's most illustrious patrons, the Medici, to carry out the prestigious commission - the most important of his career - of decorating the walls of the chapel in their palace. The subject chosen was the Journey of the Magi which he used to portray various members of the Medici family, with its young princes handsomely, even flamboyantly dressed and all set against a wonderful landscape, creating a fairy tale of the Renaissance (1459-60).
In 1461 he produced the altar painting of a Sacra Conversazione for the Compagnia delle Purificazione in Florence. The painting has since been taken apart and is kept in various museums. By 1463 he was working at San Gimignano on a cycle of 17 scenes from the life of St Augustine in the choir of Sant'Agostino (last scene signed and dated 1465) and on a fresco of St Sebastian (1464). In 1467 he painted the Tabernacle of the Executed, and the Shrine of the Visitation, the detached frescoes are now on display in the Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo, and in the Biblioteca Comunale, Castelfiorentino, respectively. In 1471 he executed a panel painting of the Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas (now in the Louvre, Paris), in 1484 the Shrine of the Madonna delle Tosse, the detached frescoes of which can be seen also in Castelfiorentino.
Between 1469 and 1485 he painted his most extensive commission, a series of 25 frescoes of Old Testament scenes for the Campo Santo (cemetery), Pisa. In 1944 a bombing raid, followed by a fire, destroyed or damaged the greater part of the frescoes. Forced to leave Pisa, along with other Florentine residents of the city, following the invasion by Charles VIII and the expulsion of the Medici, Benozzo returned to Florence. He is in Florence in 1497 but sometime during the year he moved to Pistoia where his sons were already working. He had probably been summoned there by the city government to fresco a large Maestà in the City Hall. Benozzo died in Pistoia on October 4, 1497, probably of plague, and was buried in the cloister of the convent of San Domenico.


Autoritratto (Opus Benotii) nella
Cappella dei Magi
Ugolino di Nerio, Madonna col Bambino e Santi (detail), Certaldo, Museo di arte sacra

Certaldo’s Onion


The agricultural traditions, the climate, and the hilly environment find expression
in a rich production of extra-virgin olive oil and in some labels of Chianti
D.O.C.G. wine.
Certaldo’s Onion is sought after for its original taste, as well as being representative of the region (it appears on the coat of arms since the Middle Ages). With its intense, slightly sweet taste, it is suitable

Cited in Boccaccio’s Decameron, the Vernina variety is a symbol of its town of origin. Two varieties exist. The Statina is round in shape and purplish in color with succulent flesh. It is best eaten in the summer months. The bright red and pungent Vernina is harvested from the end of August through the winter months. Both varieties are excellent for soups and for francesina, a dish of boiled beef and onion. for soups, and also to make a jam; it is a product certified by a specific mark of quality.

The inclusion of the precious vegetable in the town’s coat of arms precedes even the visits by Fra Cipolla. In 1864, L. Passerini expounded in Le armi dei Municipi Toscani: “Certaldo’s ancient coat of arms was a red Onion on a white field, marking these districts’ principal product: and it can be seen thus painted in the great hall of the Palazzo Vecchio.”
Certaldo’s onion can, therefore, be considered as a founding element of civic identity, symbol and flag of a peasant culture of very ancient traditions.
Certaldo's onion exist in two varieties: the statina is a fresh onion grown in the summer, with a white inside, while the vernina has a dry outside and deep red inside and is for winter use. [2]

"Per natura sono forte e dolce ancora/e piaccio a chi sta e a chi lavora"

Certaldo's motto is a metaphoric encomium to the onion, that can be translated as “by nature I am both strong and sweet, and I please those at work and those at rest” .

Boccaccesca market in Certaldo.


Fresco, Palazzo Pretorio.

Boccaccesca is a festival for wine and food lovers, where you can taste the best wine and products from the region.

Weekly Market Certaldo: Wednesday
Via Giacomo Matteotti, from 8.00 to 13.00.

Tourist Information Office - Certaldo
Piazza Masini c/o Stazione Ferroviaria
tel. +39 0571 656721

  Boccaccesca market in Certaldo
Boccaccesca market in Certaldo
[1] Site of settlements already in Etruscan times, Certaldo derives its name from the Latin cerrus altus, or from the Germanic cerrus aldo, both meaning "Turkey oak covered height." Until 1164, the fief of Certaldo belonged to the counts Alberti di Prato. Following the transit of Frederick I known as Barbarossa, the castle was expropriated and transformed into a major vicarage which, in the following years, hosted 705 vicars, to whose presence bear witness the respective coats of arms, still visible on the external façade and within the Palazzo Pretorio [Praetorian Palace]. After 1415 and through the whole republican and Medicean period, Certaldo is the seat of the Vicarage, the most important political and judicial centre of the Valdelsa, Val di Pesa, and part of the Valdarno. Now an important merchant town, Certaldo is home to the family of Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) who lives here at various times in the house now open to the public as a Museum. In Florence, while transcribing Dante's works, received from Petrarch (hence the saying "the third poet passes to the second the works of the first"), Boccaccio contracts the plague, returns to Certaldo to complete the transcription, and dies here. The Church of the St. Jacopo and Filippo houses the bones of the poet whose epitaph is the work of Coluccio Salutati. Certaldo has been one of Italy's 100 cities with 25 podesterie (or municipalities) under itself, and has hosted famous families; besides Boccaccio's, let us recall the Machiavellis and the Arenas whose names are still borne by the towers of ancient standing. As commerce grew along the Francigena, between the 17th and 18th centuries, Certaldo expanded to the lower town. The Palazzo dei Vicari [Vicars' Palace] remained, up to 1866, the seat of the Town's Administration, moved later to the present Town Hall. The Palace was then sold to private owners who ruined it, until the Town bought it back restoring its earlier splendour. Even The Propositura [Main Parish] of St. Tommaso, once located in the present Church of St. Tommaso and Prospero (beside the Palazzo Pretorio), was moved to the Oratory of St. Andrea (1754, in Borgo Garibaldi) and later to the church of Piazza Boccaccio, whose construction began in 1843. In the 80s, tourism emerges as another important economic activity: with the Valdelsa, Certaldo becomes a destination of European and international tourism. The Historical Borgo, also called 'The Castle', is bound within the walls, still largely preserved, through which open the ancient town's access gates: Porta Alberti, Porta del Sole and Porta al Rivellino. The Borgo can be reached by climbing the ancient and evocative steep streets named Costa Alberti and Costa Vecchia, or by the more recent Via del Castello. The sight before the visitor is that of a rare example of medieval urban planning culminating in the imposing Palazzo Pretorio at the top of Via Boccaccio. The square was the main characteristic of medieval towns; all the power centres of the era (religious, political, civil, and commercial) overlooked it. Certaldo grew on an oblong elliptically shaped hill that left no space for the 'square, whose function was then taken by the present Via Boccaccio which is indeed fronted by the Church, the Palace of the authorities (Palazzo Pretorio), and the Logge del Mercato [Market Halls], now closed. The spaces that we can now identify as squares were at the time only vegetable gardens that would supply food to the population in case of siege.  
[1] Certaldo’s Onion is characterised by a special sweetness and flavour; it is not sharp and its shape is compressed at the poles. It is light purple and has a moist consistency. The ideal soil for the cultivation of Certaldo’s Onion must be loose, with a proportion of clay not higher than 30%, a medium mixture. It needs a moist climate, but not watering. Sowing is done twice per year: in July - August for the “statina”, in October - November for the “vernina.” The statina is transplanted in October and November, it is ready for fresh consumption in May (small bulbs), and it ripens fully in August. The vernina is transplanted in March-April and is ready for winter consumption in late August. It is best stored in fresh, ventilated places; it does not need darkness. Excessive humidity and heat spoil it. The Presidium, started thanks to the support of the Consortium Certaldo 2000, aims at relaunching this culture through the reclamation of abandoned fields and the start up of a cooperative for the packaging and marketing of the product. [Source:Certaldo, a medieval jewel in Tuscany’s green heart |]



F. Allegri – M. Tosi, Certaldo poesia del Medioevo, collana “Valdelsa Millenaria”, Certaldo (Fi), Federighi Editori, 2002, pp. 109 - 111.
A. Padoa Rizzo, Benozzo Gozzoli in Toscana, Firenze, Octavo, 1997, pp. 90 - 97.
Emanuele Repetti, Dizionario geografico, fisico, storico del Granducato di Toscana, Firenze, 1833-1846.
Luigi Santoni, Raccolta di notizie storiche riguardanti le chiese dell' Arci Diogesi di Firenze, Firenze, Tipografia Arcivescovile, 1847.
Attilio Zuccagni-Orlandini, Indicatore topografico della Toscana Granducale, Firenze, Tipografia Polverini, 1857.
Luigi del Moro, Atti per la conservazione dei monumenti della Toscana compiuti dal 1 luglio 1893 al 30 giugno 1894. Relazione a S.E. il Ministro della Pubblica Istruzione, Firenze, Tipografia Minori corrigendi, 1895.
Guido Carocci, Opere d'arte e ricordi storici di Castelfiorentino e Certaldo, Miscellanea Storica della Valdelsa, 1895.
Michele Cioni, Elenco di varie costruzioni monumentali in Valdelsa e notizie di pubblicazioni, Miscellanea Storica della Valdelsa, 1903.
Michele Cioni, La Valdelsa: guida storico-artistica, Firenze, Lumachi, 1911.
Mario Salmi, Architettura romanica in Toscana, Milano-Roma, Bestetti&Tumminelli, 1927.
Italo Moretti; Renato Stopani, Chiese gotiche del contado fiorentino, Firenze, UPI, 1969.
Italo Moretti; Renato Stopani, Architettura romanica religiosa nel contado fiorentino, Firenze, Salimbeni, 1974.
Francesca Allegri; Massimo Tosi, Certaldo. Guida storico-artistica., Certaldo, Tipografia Nidiaci, 1978.
AA. VV., Toscana paese per paese, Firenze, Bonechi, 1980.
Renato Stopani, Storia e cultura della strada in Valdelsa nel medioevo, Poggibonsi, Centro Studi Romei, 1986.
Renato Stopani, La Via Francigena. Una strada europea nell'Italia del medioevo, Firenze, Le Lettere, 1988.
Vittorio Cirri; Giulio Villani, La Chiesa Fiorentina. Storia Arte Vita pastorale, Firenze, LEF, 1993.
AA. VV., Chiese medievali della Valdelsa. I territori della via Francigena tra Firenze, Lucca e Volterra, Empoli, Editori dell'Acero, 1995. ISBN 88-86975-18-X
Marco Frati, Chiesa romaniche della campagna fiorentina. Pievi, abbazie e chiese rurali tra l'Arno e il Chianti, Empoli, Editori dell'Acero, 1997. ISBN 88-86975-10-4
Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani; Anna Benvenuti Papi, Empoli, il Valdarno inferiore e la Valdelsa fiorentina, Volume 14 di I luoghi della fede, Milano, Mondadori, 1999. ISBN 88-04-46788-6
AA. VV., Firenze, Milano, Touring Club Italiano, 2001. ISBN 88-365-1932-6
Francesca Allegri; Massimo Tosi, Certaldo poesia del Medioevo, Certaldo, Federighi Editore, 2002. ISBN 88-900705-4-4

Comune Certaldo |

BEGO - Museo Benozzo Gozzoli | Storie di sant'Agostino |
Museo Benozzo Gozzoli | La Regola di Agostino | La filosofia di Agostino | Agostino e il neoplatonismo nell’estetica rinascimentale
Biografia | Il ritorno a Firenze e la partenza per San Gimignano (1459 - 1467)

Arte in Toscana | Benozzo Gozzoli

Diane Cole Ahl, Gozzoli, Benozzo: Benozzo Gozzoli, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Art in Tuscany | Benozzo Gozzoli, Procession of the Magi in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence | The Vintage and Drunkenness of Noah and other frescoes in Pisa | Fresco cycle in the apsidal chapel of Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano Sant'Agostino | Saint Sebastian

Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects | Benozzo Gozzoli

La cipolla di Certaldo |

Located on the outskirts of Castiglioncello Bandini, in a hilly and unspoilt land, Podere Santa Pia is an artistic property, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the splendor of the Maremma hills of southern Tuscany.

Holiday accomodation in southern Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia

Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, giardino
Colle di Val d'Elsa
Photo album Abbey of Sant'Antimo

Morning - San Gimignano, Siena, Italy - March 27, 2016 02     Casole d'Elsa z03
San Gimignano, morning



San Gimignano
  Casole d'Elsa
Monteriggioni, Province of Siena, Italy - panoramio   Mensano, frazione di Casole d'Elsa   Abbazia dei Santi Salvatore e Cirino
Monteriggioni   Mensano, frazione di Casole d'Elsa  

Abbazia dei Santi Salvatore e Cirino (Abbadia Isola)


The Elsa Valley


The Elsa Valley (Val d'Elsa) lies between Florence, Siena and Volterra. Traces of human activity date back to the Etruscan period, 6th century BC. Up until the 5th century AD, it was the site of a Roman colony known as "Agro Florentina". The area witnessed the intricate events of the Middle Ages, in particular the rule of the Lombards under King Desiderius and of the Franks under Charlemagne.

In the 10th century, the presence of the Via Francigena began drawing hordes of people from all across Europe, causing farming and trade to flourish.

From the 11th to the 13th centuries, a new form of society took root around the townships of Città-Castello di Castelfiorentino, Certaldo, Semifonte, Barberino Val d'Elsa, Poggibonsi, Colle Val d'Elsa, San Gimignano, Casole d'Elsa and Monteriggioni.

With the rise of the Ghibellines and the new Corporations of Arts and Crafts, the entire Elsa Valley experienced a surge in economy, manufacturing, legislation and administration.

The arts began to thrive, with a strong impetus in the realms of literature, painting and sculpture. In the early 13th century, the Elsa Valley fostered l'Arte dell'Ospitalità - the art of hospitality - with the opening of its first hotels, inns, workshops and traveling theater troupes. The pilgrimage made in 1350 by Friar Nicolò da Poggibonsi yielded one of the very first tour guides, the Libro d'Oltremare.


In the 16th canto of the Paradiso, Dante is conversing with his ancestor, Cacciaguida, and makes reference to the excellent military and business skills of the inhabitants of Semifonte.

"Se la gente ch'al mondo più traligna,
non fosse stata Cesare noverca,
ma come a madre a suo figlio benigna,
tal fatto è fiorentin e cambia e merca,
che si sarebbe volto a Semifonti,
là dove andava l'avolo a la cerca"
(La Divina Commedia, Paradiso, XVI, vv. 58-63)

"If the people that of all this world are most degenerate had not been a stepmother to Caesar, but kind like a mother to her son, there is one turned Florentine that trucks and trades who would be sent back to Semifonte, where his grandfather went a-begging" (The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, canto XVI, vv. 58-63) (Translation: John D. Sinclair)

Today, the town of Semifonte no longer exists, having been razed to the ground in 1202 by Dante's fellow citizens, the Florentines. The town surrendered after a vicious, bloody conflict that saw the inhabitants exiled to Florence, Certaldo and Barberino. Even the place name of this, the town that challenged the might of Florence with the haughty call "Fiorenza fatti in là, che Semifon divien città!" (Florence, away with you, and let Semifonte become a city!), has disappeared off the map. For centuries, nothing was known about it at all, until in 1968, a scholar succeeded in discovering its traces, going so far as to re-apply the ancient name of Semifonte to this fertile hill dotted with olive bushes.

Places to visit

Cupola di San Donnino (Dome of San Donnino). The terms by which Semifonte surrendered to the Florentines were exceptionally strict. The entire town was to be destroyed, leaving no stone intact (not even those of the churches), with a ban in perpetuity on rebuilding anything on the hilltop. It was only in 1597 that this ban was overturned by Grand Duke Ferdinando I, who granted permission for the construction of a dome similar to Brunelleschi's but on a smaller scale. The small cupola was ordered by Giovan Battista Capponi, who commissioned Santi di Tito to design and build it.

Cappella della fonte di Santa Caterina (Chapel of the font of Santa Caterina). According to tradition, the font of Santa Caterina at Semifonte, which is not currently in use, was venerated by women who had just given birth as it was considered a miraculous source for mothers' milk. Along with a stone bearing the Latin inscription CDDLXXII ibidus septembris, the small chapel has features dating from the 18th to the 20th centuries.



Barberino Val d'Elsa

Cupola San Donnino


Colle Val d'Elsa, Le Caldane
Monteriggioni e Dante Alighieri
Mensano fianco

Colle Val d'Elsa, Le Caldane


Monteriggioni e Dante Alighieri


Fiancata sinistra della pieve di San Giovanni Battista a Mensano