Palazzo Pretorio

Palazzo Pretorio stands on the highest and oldest part of the Certaldo Alto hill, overlooking the center of the ancient village. Once the residence of the Alberti Counts, it is now Certaldo’s most recognizable monument.

Certaldo, Palazzo Pretorio

The museum

The earliest known mention of Palazzo Pretorio dates to 1164, when a certificate from Federico I Barbarossa named it as the established residence of the Alberti Counts, a noble family that held numerous estates along the Arno River in the Valdelsa and Val di Pesa areas.
Around the end of the 13th/beginning of the 14th century, Certaldo definitively came under the influence of Florence, and the Palazzo was confiscated from the Alberti Counts, and transformed from a feudal castle into a public building.
As early as 1415 (a date found on one of the numerous coats of arms present), Certaldo had a resident Vicario, a Florentine magistrate tasked with administering justice in the Valdelsa and Val Di Pesa, who had power over the smaller towns in the area as well. This was the beginning of the period of Certaldo’s greatest splendor, the Vicariato.
During the 18th century, the territory of the Vicariato of Certaldo was progressively reduced, and was definitely suppressed in 1784. After that date, the palazzo was emptied of all its décor and furnishings, and then sold to be converted into private residences – 15 of them in fact, each of which had 2 or 3 rooms. The destruction was halted in 1890 when the community of Certaldo re-acquired the palazzo and work began on the restoration and refurbishment of the entire building.
The now-deconsecrated old church alongside the palazzo conserves 15th and 16th-century frescoes and sinopias, as well as the very important Tabernacle of the Condemned (ca. 1464-65), attributed to Benozzo Gozzoli. The Tabernacle was originally set on the bank of the Agliena River, where prisoners condemned to death were taken before their execution for a final prayer. For reasons of conservation, the frescoes were detached and moved into the church, but the original structure of the Tabernacle is still visible today near the bridge along the Agliena, in the lower part of the town.

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Tabernacle of the Condemned

Benozzo Gozzoli (attr.)

In the old church adjacent to the palazzo, now deconsecrated, is the noteworthy Tabernacle of the Condemned (ca. 1464-65), attributed to Benozzo Gozzoli. The Tabernacle was originally placed on the bank of the Agliena River so that prisoners sentenced to death could be taken there for a final prayer before their execution. The frescoes were detached and placed in the Church for reasons of conservation, but the original structure of the Tabernacle is still visible today near the bridge along the Agliena creek, in the lower area of the town.


Japanese garden

In the courtyard of Palazzo Pretorio, an area that was once a vegetable garden, the Japanese garden created by artist Hidetoshi Nagasawa hosts an authentic reproduction of a Japanese Tea House that contains all of the objects necessary for the traditional tea ceremony.
Completing the installation are an ornamental cherry tree set amid seven wall elements, a stone path leading to the tea house, and a bamboo grove, all designed to transform the old vegetable garden into a Japanese tea garden.
The work was donated in 1993 by Certaldo’s sister city Kanramachi as a symbol of the friendship between the two cities, as well as of Japanese philosophy.


Archeological section

The archeological section completed the extensive effort to lend value to the entire museum complex begun with the Museum of Justice and the Art Gallery. Here visitors can see objects that tell the story of Boccaccio’s hometown in antiquity: archeological finds that testify to the zone’s settlement at least from the Etruscan era, selected and organized by the Superintendency for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of the Metropolitan City of Florence and the Provinces of Pistoia and Prato.

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


Palazzo Pretorio
Piazzetta del Vicariato, 4
50052 – Certaldo (Firenze)
tel. +39 0571 661219 / 0571656721

Opening hours

summer season
(from April 1 to October 31)

10 am – 1 pm and 2.30 pm – 7 pm


winter season
(from November 1 to March 31)

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
10 am – 1 pm and 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm

Saturday, Sunday and holidays
10 am – 1 pm and 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm 

Closed on Tuesday


Combined ticket
(including House of Boccaccio)

Regular: 5.00
Reduced: 4.00 €


Free entrance for:

  • children up to age 6
  • schools of the Comune di Certaldo
  • school excursion and guided group leaders
  • people with disabilities and those accompanying them
  • C.O.M. members
  • conference participants and guests of Ente Nazionale Giovanni Boccaccio or the Comune di Certaldo

Reduced tickets for:

  • children aged 7 to 14
  • adults over 65
  • students
  • groups of more than 25 people
  • schools
  • exhibition inaugurations, conferences, seminars or other events that do not allow a full visit of one of the Museums in the System
  • visitors showing a funicular ticket or entrance tickets to other affiliated museum systems or to the Mercantia festival

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