Fiammetta, a passionate, intelligent, and sensitive lady of Naples. In reality Maria d’Aquino, reported to be the daughter of King Robert of Anjou, she is pictured by Boccaccio telling the story of her betrayal as a warning to others of the tribulations of love. Married and universally admired, she catches the eye of Panfilo (Boccaccio); overcome by love, she is obsessed by his image and finally admits him to her bedroom. Completely absorbed in her lover, she imagines that no other gentlewoman has known the true meaning of passion. Finally betrayed by him, she is sure that no other has been so unfortunate.
Panfilo, a poet, in reality Boccaccio, who is writing the story of his pursuit of Maria d’Aquino to show that it was not she who left him but, indeed, he who deserted her. At a church festival, Panfilo catches the eye of Fiammetta and, later, at a series of meetings in society, instructs her in the subtle art of revealing love to one while conversing with many. He finally gains access to her bedroom. After they have spent many passionate nights together, he wearies of Fiammetta. To extricate himself, he tells her that he must make a four-month journey to visit his dying father. Despite her protests and entreaties, he leaves her forever.