Posted tagged ‘Savonarola’

Love in Renaissance Italy

June 21, 2013

The tragic account of the Veronese lovers Romeo and Juliet as written by Shakespeare (or Marlowe or Tom, Dick and Harry) was pre-dated by a hundred years or so by a tale of even greater tragedy. Seventy miles from Verona stands the city of Ferrera and this was the place where the heart-rending story takes place.

The young Girolamo Maria Francesco Matteo Savonarola studied at the university of Ferrara. It was here thatsavonarola Girolamo studied humanism from a wide variety of philosophers. Polymath that he was he could play the lute and write poetry. He could knock out andantes on the instrument and fire off Ciconian sestets like there’s no tomorrow.

The object of Savonarola’s affections was his next door neighbour, the beautiful illegitimate daughter of the house Strozzi, Laodima Strozzi. A narrow alleyway separated the two houses making it possible to converse between two opened windows of the overhanging upper storeys. Soon he was serenading Laodima with his lute. The parents of the youngsters forbid any romance -the lute had to go- and there it should have ended except the deviously clever Savonarola devised a code that would outfox the guardians. Using this secret system he would be able to penetrate into Loadima’s bedroom.

The night came when Loadima stood on her balcony. Down below Savonarola put his plan into action. In his hand was a candle and by putting his hand over the flame for either a short or long time he would snuff out the light. This series of dashes and dots would send a coded message to his love. If she responded using the same method it meant the coast was clear for him to accost her.

This ordeal by fire was burning his hands but he hoped it would not be in vain. He sent his message and had no remorse for the sin he was about to commit.

dash,dash,dash-dash,dash,dot-dash,dash,dot-dash,dot,dash,dash. ­­­­­­­­

He waited and then Loadima replied.


She was alone. Savonarola climbed the wall like a bat out of hell so hot was he for the Strozzi girl. He vaulted over the balcony wall. He let loose his passion unbounded and done a Catullus by giving her a thousand kisses.

“Loadima, Loadima will you marry me?”

She wriggled her hands about, they were still stinging by the heat of the candle. Bloody friars. She told him in plainsong.

“I would have a one night stand with you but no way will I marry you. No Strozzi would ever sink so low to marry a mere Savonarola.”

This rejection stung Girolamo. He vowed there and then to become a monk and left her with a rebuke before jumping off the balcony.

“Don’t flatter yourself, harlot. No legitimate Savonarola would ever be as desperate as Dan and stoop to marry a Strozzi bastard.”