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Pineta di Classe: The vision of Nastagio degli Onesti

Giovanni Boccaccio lived in Ravenna in 1345-46 as the guest of Ostasio da Polenta. After having been various times in the flourishing Pineta di Classe (Classe pine forest), he wrote the curious and visionary Day V – Tale VIII in the Decameron.

The Tale narrates of a nobleman from Ravenna, Nastagio degli Onesti who, while still very young becomes a very rich man. He soon falls in love with a girl from an even nobler family, Traversa, but she never seems to be interested in his love.

Nastagio becomes very sad and his friends and relatives advise him to leave Ravenna.

The boy follows the advice and moves to Classe, but on a spring day, while training in the pine forest, Nastagio sees a girl who is crying and running naked, followed by two dogs that are biting her and a black Knight who is menacing her with death.

Nastagio, who goes to defend the girl, is told by the horseman to leave because he had already committed suicide and was paying his infernal debt by being ruthless with the girl who had scorned his love and caused him to take his own life.

Resigning himself to the divine, Nastagio watches as the young girl is ripped apart by the Knight and the dogs. To his great surprise, however, he sees that the girl, still alive, rises when the tragedy ends and that the two continue their chase from the beginning, together with the running dogs, until they could no longer be seen.

Nastagio then decides to make use of this situation, and invites his relatives and his loved one with her parents to a banquet in that place.

As he had predicted, at the end of the lunch the harrowing scene in which he had taken part was repeated with the effect he had hoped for: young Traversa, remembering how she had always scorned the love he felt for her, and for fear of being condemned in the same way, immediately agreed to marry him and loved him.

In 1483 Sandro Botticelli painted four panels on this Tale, possibly commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent as a gift for Gainnozzo Pucci for his marriage to Lucrezia Bini. Today, three panels are displayed in the Prado Museum in Madrid and one is in Palazzo Pucci in Florence.

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Last modified date: 13/09/2013


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