Easy Lit Notes website uses cookies to ensure that you get the best possible experience while you are visiting our site. We use cookies to help analyze our web traffic and to monetize our website. For More Info, please visit our Cookie Policy.

March 12, 2015

The Decameron Day 5 Story 4 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 5 Story 4 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Filostrato

In Romagna, there lived a revered knight by the name of Messer Lizio da Valbona; he was married to Madonna Giacomina, and they had a daughter named Caterina. They loved Caterina very much, and since she was their only child they kept an ever watchful eye on her; they hoped that one day she would marry a distinguished man. Ricciardo, who came from the Manardi da Brettinoro family, was a young man who hung around The Lizio's household a lot, and whom Messer Lizio liked very much; they trusted him like he was their own son.

When Caterina had reached marriageable age Ricciardo began to notice her and ended up falling madly in love with her, and she him. He was a very shy young man, but one day he got up the courage to tell her how he felt. She told him that she felt the same way, and they began devising a plan to be together without her honor being compromised. He told her to sleep on her father's balcony and he would climb up there in the middle of the night to be with her; Caterina agreed that if he were brave enough to climb up to the balcony then she would be able to find a way to sleep there.

The following day, Caterina began to complain to her mother about how she wasn't able to sleep because it was too hot. Her mother was surprised by this because it was only May and not very hot yet, but Caterina told her mother that young girls run hotter than older women, to which Madonna Giacomina agreed, but stated that she couldn’t change the weather so Caterina would just have to deal with it. She asked her mother to have her bed moved to her father's balcony where it was cool and could listen to the nightingale's sing their songs at night; her mother agreed to ask Caterina's father. Her father said no, which infuriated Caterina. Caterina refused to sleep that night and kept her mother from sleeping also by continuously complaining about the heat. The following day Madonna Giacomina went to speak with her husband again, this time he agreed. Caterina was overjoyed, and when she saw Ricciardo that day she gave him the "go ahead" signal.

That night Caterina settled into her bed on her father's balcony. Messer Lizio locked the only door that led out onto the balcony and went to bed. Ricciardo climbed up the wall to the balcony, and was greeted by his beloved. They kissed and made love throughout the night. It was almost dawn by the time they fell asleep. Caterina slept with her right arm behind Ricciardo's neck and her left hand on his "manhood." Messer Lizio awoke with the morning, and remembering that his daughter had slept on his balcony went to awaken her, and when he found his daughter and Ricciardo lying together completely naked he went quietly to his wife's bedroom. He told his wife that Caterina had captured a nightingale in her hand, which confused his wife but went with him to where Caterina was sleeping. Messer Lizio lifted the curtain that surrounded Caterina's bed and Madonna Giacomina saw what nightingale her daughter had caught during the night, and was furious. Messer Lizio was not angry and managed to calm his wife down. He reminded her that Ricciardo came from a good noble and rich family, and would make a wonderful husband for their daughter.

Ricciardo awoke and thought he was dead for sure, but Messer Lizio told him that he had no choice but to marry his daughter. Ricciardo agreed, and Messer Lizio borrowed one of his wife's rings and married them on the spot where they first made love. Madonna Giacomina told them to go back to sleep as she and her husband left the newlyweds; instead, the love birds made love again.

A few days later, Ricciardo married Caterina again, but this time in front of all their friends and relatives. They lived happily ever after, catching nightingales.


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