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March 19, 2016

The Decameron Day 3 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 3 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Elissa

In Pistoia, there lived a knight by the name of Messer Francesco. He was very rich, shrewd, and clever at times; he was also very stingy with his money. He was appointed podesta of Milan, so he began to ready himself for the journey. He had everything befitting a man of his station except for a horse; no horse he looked at was handsome enough for him.

Ricciardo was also a wealthy man, but of humble birth, who was also from Pistoia. He was so well dressed and groomed that the townspeople called him Zima, which is "a nickname based on azzimato: 'ornately dressed, decked out in one's best clothes'" (222). Zima was in love with Messer Francesco's wife, who was both very beautiful and virtuous, and tried to court her to no avail. Zima owned the finest horse around and he knew it. Everyone knew about Zima's love for Messer Francesco's wife, and one of them told Messer that he should ask Zima for his horse since he was so clearly devoted to the Messer's wife. Messer Francesco sent for Zima and asked him for the horse. Zima agreed to let Messer have the horse if he was to be permitted to speak to his wife privately. Messer agreed to Zima's terms, and went to fetch his wife. He told her that under no circumstances was she allowed to answer Zima's questions. The lady was upset by this agreement, but went along with her husband anyway.

Zima told the lady that as an intelligent woman she must know by now how much he was in love with her. He would do anything and everything she wanted him to do. He asked her to order him to do something so that he could prove to her just how much he loved her. He told her that if she doesn't he will die and it will be her fault. At the end of his speech, the lady found herself feeling something for Zima that she never had before-love. She let out a few quiet sighs so that Zima would know how she felt, since per her husband's order she was not allowed to talk. Zima saw the glimmer of love in her eyes and that coupled with her sighs he guessed what had happened, so he set about to outsmart the knight. He began to answer for the lady. Speaking as the lady, Zima said that she was in love with him and that she wanted to be with him. Her husband was to leave for Milan in a few days with Zima's horse, and then they would be free to be together. Zima was to wait until he saw two towels hanging in the window of her bedroom, which overlooks the garden. When he sees those towels he is to enter the garden at night so as not to be seen, and they will fully enjoy each other. Zima, speaking once again as himself, agreed to the aforementioned plan and bid her farewell.

Messer Francesco left for Milan with Zima's horse. His wife, moved by Zima's impassioned speech, resolved to do as Zima had asked and hung two towels in her window. Zima was delighted when he saw them and came over that night. They spent that night together in bed and fully enjoying themselves. This continued for the whole six months that Messer Francesco was gone, and even after he returned.


Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella, Signet Classic, 1982.