Romantic Florence: Ippolito and Dianora

Florence also has its own Romeo and Juliet, but they are called Ippolito and Dianora (or Lionora).

The story is told in a novella of the fifteenth century, Istorietta amorosa fra Leonora de ’Bardi e Ippolito Buondelmonti, that most attribute to the pen of Leon Battista Alberti.

It is about the troubled love of two young Florentines belonging to enemy families, the Buondelmonti and the Bardi. The inspiration might have come from the political division between the two factions of Guelphs and Ghibellines, the former allies the Pope, the latter supporters of the Emperor.

As a testimony of that period of conflict, remain a few Florentine palaces: if Ghibelline families lived there, they had dovetail battlements, while those of the Guelph faction had square battlements.

The story became very popular, and was certainly among the texts that inspired Shakespeare for his masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet.


The love between Ippolito Buondelmonti and Dianora de 'Bardi blossomed on the night of San Giovanni (June 24), during the celebrations for the Florentine patron.

On that occasion, Ippolito saw Dianora and fell madly in love with her, only to discover that she belonged to the hated Bardi family. For the young man it was a very hard blow, enough to make him fall seriously ill. Ippolito, afflicted by that torment, confessed to his mother that he would have preferred to die than to live a life without Dianora. So the mother, moved to compassion, found a way to organize their encounter, during which the two decided to marry in secret.

Unfortunately, fate seemed to be against this union.


On the night they were supposed to meet again, in the girl's chamber, Ippolito was captured by a guard while trying to climb the balcony with a ladder.

To save his beloved from dishonor, he pretended he to be a thief, while knowing that in doing so he would be sentenced to death.

It was Dianora who saved him from his destiny, when the day of the execution - while the court headed to the gallows passed under the Palazzo de’ Bardi - she ran down the street and threw her arms around her beloved, shielding him from the guards and begging to be able to talk the situation with the magistrates.

Once the misunderstanding had been clarified, the two families were summoned in order to put an end to their hostilities, for the good of the young lovers.

So there is no tragedy, but a happy ending, for Ippolito and Dianora. All in all we do like it this way!



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