The Decameron

A Guided Reading with Alexandra Lawrence

Set against the backdrop of the 1348 plague in Florence, Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron follows 10 young noble men and women as they make their escape from the chaotic, pandemic-infested city to the beautiful surrounding countryside. Once comfortably ensconced in their villa, the group devises a routine that includes taking walks, singing, napping, and eating sumptuous food. Finding they still have a number of hours to fill, they decide to tell stories and set about anointing a king or queen for each of the 10 days who will decide the theme of the day’s tales. The one hundred stories that follow are entertaining, sensuous, tragic, and hilarious as we are regaled with tales of happy lovers, unhappy philosophers, sly tradesmen, sex-obsessed clergymen, dimwitted nobles, lucky servants and so much more.

In this six-week guided reading we will explore the themes of each of the ten days as well as discuss a selection of novellas that best exemplify each theme.


There is no required translation—Alexandra will use translations by Mark Musa & Peter Bondanella as well as G.H. McWilliam.

01 October - 5 November 2024
Tuesdays 18:00-19:30 

In person sessions in the Library and simultaneously on Zoom.

Recordings will be available for registered participants.

In person:  €40 per session / €200 for full course

On Zoom: €30 per session / €150 for full course

For further information and enrolment, please  write to us on, or call us on  +39 055 2677 8270 (between 11:30 and 18:30 CET)