Italy – Certaldo
La Meridiana is set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside a continuous inspiration for artwork. It is just 8 kilometers away from the medieval town of Certaldo which has retained its authenticity as a small Tuscan town. The cities of Florence, Pisa and Siena are both within an hour of La Meridiana and other intriguing Tuscan towns such as San Gimignano, Volterra and Greve in Chianti are a short drive away. The Chianti region, home to superb wines lies just to our east.
Like many other Tuscan towns, Certaldo is divided between its medieval walled town on a hill and the modern residential and industrial suburb spread out below.
Etruscan and Roman in origin. Certaldo was also situated on the Via Francigena.
In the lower town is the main square Piazza Boccaccio (car park), with a marble statue by Augusto Passaglia (1879) which was commissioned to mark the fifth centenary of the death of Giovanni Boccaccio.
The charming medieval upper town, reached on foot in 10 min or by cablecar from the station in the main piazza (2min). built almost entirely of brick, is well preserved despite some damage during the Second World War. All the principal buildings, as well as some attractive houses, face onto Via Boccaccio.
Half-way up on the left is the Casa del Boccaccio (rebuilt in 1947). with a tower and loggia, which was bought and restored in the early 19C by Marchesa Carlotta dei Medici Lenzoni.
Facing onto the little piazza is the church of Santi Michele e Jacopo. The simple brick facade dates from the 1 3C and the interior has been restored to original Romanesque appearance. In a niche is an urn containing the body of Beata Giulia.
Next to the church is a small cloister which gives access to the Museo d'arte Sacra inaugurated in 2001 (open daily 10.00-19.00). The museum has some fine and rare works which include: a monumental 13 C Crucifix; paintings by Meliore, the Bigallo master Puccio di Simone and Ugolino di Nerio most of them removed from churches in the countryside around Certaldo.
At the top of the street is Palazzo Pretorio, originally the castle of the Conti Alberti with its facade decorated with picturesque coats of arms in stone and glazed terracotta which record the Governors (Vicari) sent from Florence. Around the courtyard are the rooms where justice was administered, dungeons, and a chapel with a fresco of Doubting Thomas attributed to Benozzo Gozzoli.
Several rooms have Fine doorways, fireplaces and some fresco decoration.
A terraced garden and a walkway overlooking the town walls provide a splendid view stretching from the hills of the Val d'Elsa to San Gimignano.