Now, our agriturismo is in the very centre of the Chianti Classico wine region, and with so many beautiful towns to see near us, sometimes it’s hard not to feel a little disloyal to suggest places to see outside the area.
But I have no problem in advising our guests who rent a vacation villa here at Podere Patrignone to go and visit Certaldo.
It’s a stunningly preserved 12th C walled hill-top town, filled with good restaurants and cafés, excellent arts and crafts, beautiful buildings, churches and museums. It’s a great place for kids because there are almost no cars, and it’s full of the most amazingly photogenic views. The Palazzo Pretorio is well worth a visit, as are the two museums (there’s a good tourist information centre on the high-street). It’s never particularly busy, apart from…well, I’ll talk about that below. The art’s and crafts centre in the heart of Certaldo is really excellent, with some really amazing prints and ceramics (proper hand-made crafts, not tourist tat) and the “Museum of Nails”.
But most of all, it has an amazing atmosphere, and it’s hard to say why. But trust me, the place has an almost magical feel to it (and I’m not what one might call a particularly spiritual person). You’ll see what I mean when you get there.
As I say, it’s mostly a quiet place. The exception to this is Mercantia in July, where for 5 days and nights, Certaldo becomes a heaving mass of performance artists: fire eaters, musicians, acrobats, theatre, puppet shows, trapeze artists, street food, you name it. It’s a great experience and we go as often as time allows. You can see my separate review on this festival here.
Getting around Certaldo
The best way to get there is to drive to the ‘new town’ Certaldo Basso (as it’s called by the locals), park in the central square, and get the funicular railway up to the old town, Certaldo Alto. You can also walk up, as it only takes 15 minutes. Otherwise, there is a car park around the back of the town, that’s quite hard to get to, but is then an easy walk to the top.