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Certaldo is situated within the area known as Chianti, from where the famous wine comes from. Certaldo is a small city with a cute and well conserved old part raised on top of a small hill and made out entirely of red bricks, the so-called Certaldo Alto. Of etruscan origins, Certaldo got its name from latin cerrus (or from germanic cerrus aldo) which meant a hill covered with oaks. Federico il Barbarossa assigned the city in 1164 to the Conti Alberti, to whom it belonged till the end of the 13th century.
When it became part of the Florentine Republic in 1293, Certaldo was chosen seat for the Vicariato (government) in 1415, which guaranteed Certaldo a lasting political and juridical sovereignty, even during the Medici period. Certaldo is commonly associated with Giovanni Boccaccio, the famous novelist, author of Il Decamerone, written in 1351. Boccaccio spent most of his life in Certaldo, where he also died, and in the Decamerone one can find a lot of references to places and people in and around Certaldo.
To visit at Certaldo: The Palazzo Pretorio is the former government building with its stanza dei tormenti (torture-chamber) and its panoramic fortress tower. On the front and in the court one can admire the arms and heraldic figures of the vicari, the most beautiful being the items by the Della Robbia school. The Casa del Boccaccio shows where Boccaccio lived and has an important library based on the various editions and resources on the Decamerone. The church Santi Jacopo e Filippo, built in the 13th century, preserves the tombstone of Boccaccio and has some beautiful wall paintings of the 14th century.
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