We were dropping off our friends at the Certaldo train station, when on our way home we noticed at the end of the street, a rail track going directly up the hill in front of us. Suddenly, it jogged my memory about something I had read, I believe in Rick Steves guide to Italy.
Of course! In Certaldo, you could take a “funiculare” for a short ride up the hill, to visit the old medieval town sitting atop, and take in the view. I had put it on my list, but then, been distracted by all the other popular sites around.
We learned that the new town, at the bottom of the hill is called Certaldo Basso (lower town) and Certaldo Alto (as in up or high – like the singers who can hit the high notes are “altos”) was the old town above, still operating as a town, but with very few streets that allow vehicles. It caters mostly to tourists.
It’s a short ride up, but the view is indeed fantastic! The funicular acts as a time machine, transporting you from modern day Italy back through hundreds of years by the time you reach the top. Too bad they don’t give you period costumes to wear when you reach “uptown” to really experience life as it was back in 1300s.
At this period of our journey, we don’t need to tour one more medieval town, or take pictures of one more church, charming piazza or marvel at its central tower. The region is chock full of these small hilltop villages, surrounded by ancient stone walls, and narrow cobbled streets, with rich history and evidence at every turn of life having been here for ages.
The views however, get me every time. I can’t get enough of staring out at the broad expansive rolling hills and valleys of green, overflowing with olive groves, lines and lines of old vines, and freshly turned fields. My camera roll is probably 60% pictures of these views, with the remaining being pictures of churches..
I love discovering these gems, discreet and hidden, being anything but a tourist trap. Especially when on our way home, we stop in on Eduardo at the local wine cooperative Valvirginio to pick up our favourite rosso.