Certaldo Alto is an unspoiled medieval walled city where one can easily imagine life in the Middle Ages. This unique hill town is located in the softly rolling hills of Chianti between Florence and Siena. Surrounded by a park, vineyards and olive groves, the village is constructed of ancient red bricks and includes towers, arched gates, prisons, the Vicar’s palace and the great Italian writer Boccaccio’s home. This authentic Italian village has about 150 residents and is very safe for our students, reporting no crime since the program began in 2008. We are only a 15-minute drive from San Gimignano, which we can see in the distance across the hills and valleys of the beautiful Val d’Elsa.
Certaldo Alto looks below to the larger urban area of Certaldo Basso, a community of 12,000 citizens where our students shop for groceries, go to the pharmacy, post office, or local medical facilities. It’s a 10-minute walk or a short tram ride to the train station. From there it is less than an hour by train to Florence, Pisa or Siena. From major airports in Pisa or Florence, students can fly to locations all over Europe.
Certaldo is known throughout Italy because it is the native home of Giovanni Boccaccio, one of the greatest poets of Italian literature. He wrote the Decameron between 1349 and 1351, and lived the last years of his life in a house next to our school. Several times a year Certaldo holds festivals celebrating their medieval heritage .
Our students participate in the Medieval Feast, Boccaccesca Food Festival and Carnivale during different seasons of the year.