There was once... As though waking from a long sleep, I found myself in the House where upon writing my 100 novellas I had waited, e incontinent I realised that in a different and new condition they were the walls belonging to my father, Boccaccio di Chellino. A prank by Calandrino came to mind when I saw my portrait, that of a poet, on the wall, in a style so different to Giotto’s. And all around me beautiful books by my “Prince Galahalt”, ornate and written in more than 100 languages. Until, by my leave, everyone passed by without seeing me. I understood that Giovanni Boccaccio, in flesh and bone, existed no more, but like the divine Dante he had travelled beyond, to me, writer of the human comedy, to my Certaldo I had been given the task to come: otherwhere I am here to guide you in “taking the pleasure” of the world, and to understand what you received from my Decameron…
In the castle of Valdelsa, home to noblemen, I encountered many varied banquet tables at night. My Friar Onion had mocked them, the local people of Certaldo with the onion and they had redeemed themselves: with soups and chutneys, jams and salad. They held a rustic food festival, an event named after me, and a medieval dinner with rich canteens and old costumes. And even a biscuit, the Mercaccio, to be eaten and enjoyed, sweet morsels made from bitter almonds.
Then when the sun sets and they light the torches, Mercantia begins. Everything slows down, brief laughter that can last a lifetime, and in the company of Chichibio and Peronella the town fills with jesters. Mercantia is all about theatre and folly, a time for fire eaters and puppets, dancers and acrobats. Here, along the streets, piazzas and alleyways from all over the world, time stands still and performance flies up into the skies, as if by magic.
And like Alatiel and her just kissed mouth, here love happens with the new moon. The palace that once housed vicars and prisoners is now open for weddings, for an “I do” between lovers, as well as wares and customs, an “I do” from all the lands that as officiant I too would have celebrated. At the foot of Benozzo’s frescoes, amongst 101 coats of arms on the walls, the town framed thoughts and love.
But come up into my house, climb up the tower and let’s look around at the lands and the hills, where eyes are soothed with the sight. Like Landolfo Rufolo, who survived the sea, who came ashore in Certaldo, you too can stay here. Every day artisans and the best cooks are made, the cantors of my novellas gathered to tell their tales, my new imitators assembled to narrate; and my fellow townspeople proudly competed against one another in games and tournaments. The dreams of my novellas, which I crafted for you with the finest of art, take new shape here every day, and damsels and knights, merchants and peasants encounter them: fairytales have a new life.