Simonetta is known in Genoa as a true beauty, and a lover of art and poetry. When the Florentine banker Marco Vespucci asks for her hand in marriage, she accepts the offer longing to see the beautiful city with its magnificent Duomo. She leaves Genoa to build a new life in Florence, where she’s is invited by the Medici family to their dinners and feasts thanks to her husband’s connections. Lorenzo de Medici is a patron of many artists and writers. When Simonetta meets Sandro Botticelli, who asks her to pose for him, a girl’s dream comes true.
Another book about Florence and the Renaissance, as a preparation for my citytrip :). I already knew the story of Simonetta, Botticelli and the Medici’s as it’s also covered in the TV series ‘Medici’. Still, for me, this was the ideal introduction to Palombo as a writer.
Simonetta is well portrayed. The only thing that bothered me at times was the immense focus on her beauty. But beauty is the aim during the Renaissance and the subject makes for fine discussions with Lorenzo and Botticelli, so it suits the story. Palombo just fell a bit too in repetition on that subject.
Botticelli is and remains my favourite painter and it was nice to read about him and some of his works better in this book. The love for art splashed off the pages. We don’t know much about the real Simonetta, except that she was famous for her beauty, a supposed lover of Giuliano De Medici and Botticelli’s muse. Sandro is even buried in the Vespucci family church not far from Simonetta’s grave. As not so much is known about Simonetta’s true feelings and thoughts, Palombo could build her own story.
Is this really such a wonderfully well-written book with an original story? No, but ‘The most beautiful woman in Florence‘ is an atmospheric novel that takes you to the streets of Florence at the foot of the mighty duomo. And that was exactly what I was hoping for beforehand. For me, the book might have been longer because I wasn’t ready to leave Florence just yet. And I will pick up some of Palombo’s other books.
What’s your favourite novel about a painter?