We’re spending the day in Certaldo, about fifteen kilometres from the agriturismo where our empty suitcases are stacked.
Certaldo is on two levels, connected by a funicular, but it’s an easy ten-minute walk up or down, on cobbled or gravel paths leading to the city’s various gates. The walled upper town is famous as Boccaccio’s birthplace (1313). You can see his tomb (he died in 1375) in the church and friary of Santi Jacopo e Filippo. You can also visit his house, just down the road from the Palazzo Pretorio, the seat of local government, whose outer walls are studded with terracotta and stone family crests.
Whether Boccaccio composed the Decameron in Certaldo is unknown to me, although I doubt it: he moved around a great deal, between Florence and Naples. I suppose I could have ducked into the conveniently located Boccaccio Museum and found the answer, but I did not. I like my museums in cold, cloudy cities. And there’s always Wikipedia.
The Medicis were here
Last night, before dinner, we had a tour of our agriturismo’s organic wine making operation. The place was originally a sixteenth-century hunting lodge for an obscure member of the stupendously rich and powerful Medicis, and so it came with all the comforts of home: a permanent staff of hundreds, packs of dogs, stables for horses, farms for filling noble bellies, as well as a vast winemaking operation.
We had a tour of the wine cellar, which is independent of the main buildings: dark brick, vaulted ceilings, surfaces furred with ancient black moss, the air pungent with centuries of wild yeasts, layered with antique aromas of fermenting wine and oak. You can smell time’s slow passing.
The harvest is in progress right now, and we stood beside giant tubs of grape juice and must exhaling clouds of intoxicating aroma, the tubs brimming with the soon-to-be wine, waiting to begin its adolescence in stainless steel tanks, before a long, dream-filled slumber in oak barrels in the dark Medici cellar, where the wine will dream of its hilly Tuscan birthplace, visited by cooling rain and wreathed with bees — until a sudden pop and the wine tumbles headlong into someone’s glass, disoriented and bleary, taking its first breaths, more awake now, stretching and blinking through the curved, distorting prison of precise German glassware…fully awake now, in Vegas.