Certaldo On the Road

Certaldo, Italy
Stepping out of the big Italian cities and into the Tuscan countryside can be likened to the Renaissance itself. It is a kind of re-birth; an emergence from the busy womb of hustle-bustle into a spacious and fresh world of rolling hills awash with all the colours of the rainbow.

In the geographical heart of Tuscany, within one hour of tourist giants Florence, Pisa, and Siena, lies the small town of Certaldo. It presents a scenic location amongst farms that produce Italy's internationally renowned Chainti wines and top shelf olive oil. A town as yet unblemished by hordes of tourists, Certaldo is the perfect place to base yourself for day trips to these popular cities as well as other local and 'truly Tuscan' highlights.

The old town of Certaldo Alto has Etruscan origins, dating back long before the birth of Christ. Today, its well preserved 12th century architecture offers the handful of tourists who visit the chance to wander undisturbed around quaint medieval streets and savour fantastic panoramic views across the countryside. The Palazzo Pretorio, with its richly decorated fa├žade, regularly provides the backdrop for cultural performances thoughout the summer months. Theatre and live music concerts are frequent, as are food and wine events, complete with locals dressed in traditional village costumes. The town's biggest festival, Mercantia, is held annually in mid-July, and draws around 30,000 people from all over Europe. It's a kind of 'fringe festival' comprising one week of acts by various genre of entertainers including musicians, comics, puppeteers, dancers and circus acrobats.

By car, bicycle, or on foot from Certaldo there are an abundant array of opportunities to experience typical Tuscan delights. Stop in at a vineyard for wine tastings, hike or ride a bike to the beautiful medieval village of San Gimignano, visit nearby ceramic, alabaster or crystal workshops, or even take a Tuscan cooking class to learn the secrets to the local cuisine.