In Certaldo, Boccaccio Decadence in a Tuscany Gem
I’d read an article recently about ten “must-see” small-town stops between Umbria and Florence. The author had clearly never been to Certaldo. On an early February trip to Pisa, Pino and I stopped enroute at this little-known Tuscan gem north of Siena.
Below the town in the parking area, a statue of Certaldo’s most famous citizen, Boccaccio (14th c) greeted us. Born either here or in Florence and master of classical Italian prose, Boccaccio forms part of the “triumvirate” of Italian writers of the vernacular, Dante and Petrarch joining him.
At the top of the funicular in Certaldo’s centro storico, we strolled serpentining alleyways winding in the midst of redbrick houses with crenellated rooftops and pointed medieval arches crowning windows and doorways.
Here and there, swatches of color give life to the redbrick, as did the Della Robbia plaque in a niche in the street named after Boccaccio. That Annunciation is a contemporary rendition of the Della Robbia glazed maiolica…..
From the palazzo, we wandered past the Casa del Boccaccio (legendary), extensively restored following World War II and then stopped for lunch at a small ristorante flanked by worn wooden doors: A Casa Tua. “At (Your) Home” sounded like an invitation to home-cooking:
Well, their food was obviously satisfying to many as inside there was barely a table left. Chatting ebullient visitors shared ribollita soup, grilled sauusages or other choices of Tuscan goodness to warm up that chilly February day:
…but their version of pici all’aglione intrigued: we’d never tried a walnut addition to this favorite tomato/garlic sauce on thick spaghetti ( called “pici” in Tuscany and “strangozzi” here in Umbria).
And this all’aglione was served to us in small aluminum pans, reminiscent of rural times past when there were few plates in the farmhouse and the last one served, Papa’, often just ate from the pot or pan.
They’re called i coccoli (“the cuddles”): a bit of Boccaccio decadence?
Read here about a truly authentic pici all’aglione