Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Boccacio and Certaldo

Giovanni Boccaccio, most noted for his writing of The Decameron, was born in Certaldo in Tuscany in 1313. Although he spent most of his adult life in and around Florence, he died in Certaldo in 1375. As a plot summary for the Decameron, it tells the story of 10 people (7 women and 3 men) who decide to leave Florence to escape the plague. They hang out in a villa in the countryside and in order to pass the time, each person agrees to tell one story each day for 10 days. Those math majors out there have calculated that we have 100 stories. Many of the stories have the same source material as Chaucer's Cantebury Tales, or so they say.

We went to Certaldo, not to revisit the tales of Boccaccio, but to eat, of course. Each year the town hosts a medieval dinner and show and we decided to attend with our dear friends Anna and John.  Certaldo is divided into two parts, the upper and lower part of town. The upper part, is the old section of town, and it is where the festival was held.

Certaldo is part of the province of Florence. It is actually about 22 miles southwest of Florence proper. It is roughly the same size as Umbertide with a population of about 14,000 people in both the upper and lower parts of the town.

This is the main street of town, before the festival was set up, called, what else Via Boccaccio.

There is a serernity in these medival towns that belie their often times violent history. As much as I try to imagine what life would have been like back then, I still find myself romanticizing about life in a small Tuscan town in the 1300's.
 At the other end of Via Boccaccio is the Palazzo Pretorio or Vicariale, the residence of the Florentine governors. It has recently been restored, and on its wall are ceramic coat of arms of influential families.

Around the corner was our hotel, the Osteria del Vicario. The building was formerly a monastery which has now been converted into an excellent restaurant and small hotel.

As evening approaches, the tables are set and the crowds started to gather. Through the entire length of the street, the tables were lined, and numbered. We had our tickets, which cost us 39E each and we wondered how in the world they were going to feed us all and get food to us? Any ideas?

This being Italy, we knew not to worry, but we were curious.

No comments:

Post a Comment