Although the name Certaldo derives from the Latin “Cerretus Altus” (Oak Tree Hill), the area was first inhabited by the Etruscan civilization.
In the Middle Ages the area belonged to the Counts of the Alberti family and then in 1184, Federico Barbarossa surrendered Certaldo to the dominant Florentines. Certaldo became a Vicariate and remained under the Vicar until the late 18thC. The jurisdiction of the Certaldo Vicariate was much larger than today’s present boundaries as it comprised the Elsa, Pesa and a part of the Arno Valleys.
Certaldo, for centuries, economically supported its people through trade and commerce. The Boccaccio were a family of merchants and it was from this tradition that Giovanni Boccaccio, (1313-1375), the famous Italian writer and poet, was born and spent most of his adult life in Certaldo.
Today, the Casa di Boccaccio (Boccaccio’s Home) is a Museum where visitors can learn more about the life and works of one of the most important Italian writers. Visitors can pay homage to the Decameron’s author at his burial monument preserved in the Church of SS. Filippo and Giacomo. Directly under his tombstone, there is an epitaph dedicated to Boccaccio written by the 14thC Florentine Humanist Coluccio Salutati.
Although the modern town, between the river and the Via Francigena (the pilgrimage road that leads to Rome), developed gradually from the 17thC, the local government remained in the Palazzo Pretorio (Vicar’s Palace) until the 1866. After the Italian Unification, a new town hall was built in the modern section of the city. The local government moved to the new headquarters and the old Palazzo Pretorio was sold to a private entity who radically transformed the building.