Museum of Nails

A museum inspired by the Valdelsa’s great artisanal traditions that offers an unusual perspective on human history.

Certaldo, Museum of Nails

The museum

This unusual museum is located in Palazzo Giannozzi, a historic manor house/palazzo that today hosts artisans’ workshops where visitors can see craftspeople at work. The museum presents a unique collection of nails from every era and of every type, as well as antique examples of peasant tools and wooden sculptures.

The collection was the brainchild of Giancarlo Masini, a carpenter and artist known to everyone as “Beppe Chiodo”. The museum displays tiny nails and nails over a meter long; decorative nails typically used in the doors of villas; nails from the Roman and Etruscan epochs. There is a significant space dedicated to artistic interpretations of nails, carved in wood or created in various materials, from pumice to glass, from wax to cork. Also on show are tools for woodworking, and a series of anecdotes and drawings illustrating the occupations in which nails have played a fundamental role.
In 1994, in memory of Giancarlo Masini, the “Golden Nail”prize was instituted, and is awarded each year to an artist whose work is emblematic of Certaldo’s main annual event, Mercantia.

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Works by great masters, multimedia reconstructions with voices and stories from the territory and the communities it hosts, archaeological finds and historical arts and crafts: every museum in the area offers great little stories to discover.

Sciences & Technics

Nails throughout history

In Mesopotamia it was common to hide the nails in one’s house during construction, to keep evil spirits away. In ancient Greece, the goddess Atropos had a nail and a hammer as her symbols: she hammered the nail as a sign to man of his ineluctable fate. The Etruscans habitually placed a finely-made, never-used gold nail into tombs to help the deceased find good favor in the afterlife. And in the Christian religion, the nails from Jesus’ cross are objects of worship. But the nail has also inspired artists and poets who have used it in fables and other writings, and is also present in nature (mushrooms called chiodini – little nails), and in pages dedicated to science, art, comics, proverbs and so on. Sometimes employed as a cruel instrument of torture, it is nonetheless known above all as a precious, indispensable tool for craftspeople.

Sciences & Technics

Tools and craftspeople

The workbench tools of rural woodworkers and craftsmen who worked in the ancient villages of the Valdelsa from the second half of the 19th century to the end of the second World War are the focus of a selection put together by Beppe Chiodo. Rural craftsmen were very different from city ones: the former made mainly practical items for farmers (carts, barrels, plows, yokes…), while the latter made furniture. But the real difference was in their lifestyles. Rural craftsmen were in direct contact with nature and planted a tree whenever they used one for their work, and they were almost always paid in kind by the farmers they did work for. Their lives consisted of simple, but essential, work. City craftsmen had similarly hard and laborious lives, but they were more detached from nature, working for hours on end in dark, cramped workshops, except for those few who worked on furnishings for the nobility or the church.

Sciences & Technics

The ‘nailsculptures'

These are satirical little sculpted nails by Beppe Chiodo, in alder wood, carved using gouges and a few small modern tools. Giancarlo Masini believed that “Even little things can convey their message”. Hence every one of his sculptures has a detail that recalls the shape of a nail.

The land

In Medieval towns, all of the powers – religious, political, civil and commercial – front on the main square, the piazza. In Certaldo this “piazza” is what is now Via Boccaccio.

This historic village, also known as the “Castello”, huddles within walls, accessed by ancient gates: Porta Alberti, Porta al Sole and Porta al Rivellino.
The main feature of medieval villages was the piazza, which all of the powers of the day overlooked: religious, political, civil, and commercial. Certaldo grew atop an elongated hill in an elliptical shape that left no space for a ‘piazza,’ so that function was taken over by the street that is now Via Boccaccio, on which we find the Church, the halls of power (Palazzo Pretorio) and the Market Loggia (Palazzo Stiozzi Ridolfi), today closed by still visible in the walls. The spaces we can currently identify as piazzas were simply vegetable gardens that would provide food for the population in the case of a siege.
Palazzo Pretorio stands on the highest and oldest part of the hill of Certaldo Alto, higher than the old village and set at the intersection of two medieval streets, Via Boccaccio (the town’s main street) and Via del Rivellino (the oldest). Its imposing size made it a focal point for all of the surrounding area.

  • Archaeology
  • Art
  • Memories
  • Sciences & Technics


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Useful information


Museum of Nails
(Museo del Chiodo)

Via Giovanni Boccaccio, 35
50052 – Certaldo (Firenze)
tel. +39 0571 661265

Opening hours

The museum can be visited by request made directly at the ticket office in Palazzo Pretorio when the ticket is purchased, during the opening days and hours of the municipal museum system which also includes Palazzo Pretorio and House of Boccaccio.


Individual ticket: 1,00 €

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