Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Naples. Seaport in southern Italy in which Giovanni Boccaccio spent several years before writing The Elegy of Lady Fiammetta. His book paints a glowing civic portrait of Naples, which he describes as “joyful, peaceful, rich, magnificent and under a single ruler.” Beautiful people reside here, and life in the upper class is ornamented with luxuries and spectacles. The noblewoman Fiammetta’s own beauty is displayed in the unidentified church in which she first meets the young Panfilo, in an echo of Petrarch’s first glimpsing of his beloved (and also married) Laura. Ironically, in this place of divine worship the tinder of the adulterous affair is kindled. It is in a Neapolitan convent that Fiammetta first realizes that another woman—a young nun—has also fallen for Panfilo’s charms.

Fiammetta’s bedchamber

Fiammetta’s bedchamber. Room in Fiammetta’s husband’s house in which she dreams her dreams and watches her beauty blossom before ever meeting Panfilo. Here she suffers her nightmare about a field in which she is bitten by a venomous snake that presages her failed affair. After her initially flirtatious but innocent meetings with Panfilo become carnal, her bedchamber becomes the sexual playground that only they share, away from prying eyes or nosy servants. Even her nurse, apparently, does not know what her lover looks like. Here Fiammetta meets the Roman goddess Venus and the Fury Tisiphone, with whom she has imagined conversations about her love and eventual grief....

(The entire section is 638 words.)