Life as in the "Decamerone" by Boccaccio

A countryhouse in the centre of "Pandemia"

"Decamerone" by J.W. Waterhouse. Picture:
"Decamerone" by J.W. Waterhouse.


Back then

"I say, then, that the years of the fruitful Incarnation of the Son of God had attained to the number of one thousand three hundred and forty-eight, when into the notable city of Florence, fair over every other of Italy, there came the death-dealing pestilence, through the operation of the heavenly bodies or of our own iniquitous dealings, being sent down upon mankind for our correction by the just wrath of God."

Thus begins the "Decameron" by the Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio, written around 1350 at the time of the plague in Florence.

A group of seven young women and three young men flee from plague-ridden Florence to a deserted villa in the countryside. To pass the evenings, each member of the party tells a story each night. In this way, a total of one hundred stories are created over ten days, which subsequently became a role model for all novels in Western literature and, at least in Italy, are required reading for schools.


"It was in the year 2020 when the Corona virus broke out in the beautiful country of Italy - indisputably one of the most beautiful in the world - a fate that did not impose neither the influence of the heavenly bodies nor the just wrath of God."

Three women - like sixty million others of their fellow citizens - adhere to the order to leave their residence only for the bare essentials (#iorestoincasa). Given the terrible situation in other regions and countries, we have the fullest understanding for this measure to contain the spreading of the disease. We feel pity for those affected and have the highest respect for all the helpers.

And of course we also worry about our own future.
But we try to distract each other by storytelling.

Admittedly, only two of those present are young and pretty as in the painting by Waterhouse, and the gallant men are  missing, too. However there are a number of cats to keep them company.

The master of the house is currently in a "distant country" north of the Alps and will only be able to return to La Rogaia with difficulties.

But don't worry, we are all in good health, the pantries are full and we are all used to a secluded life.

We are not "positive", we just want to maintain a positive attitude and make the most of the situation!

Literary allusions

Already in the past few weeks we had thought of ironic or even sarcastic allusions to famous works of world literature.

RAI3 -radio every afternoon presented a chapter from Albert Camus's "The Plague" and the book was sold out in Italy!
(By the way: In other countries people only went for toilet paper and pasta ...)

In view of the cancellation of the Venice Carnival, Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice" naturally came to our mind, and now we live a bit like on "The Magic Mountain", with the difference that "we up here" are healthy and not sick.

We also remembered Virgil's "See Naples and die".

And for the romantics there was "Love in the time of the Coronera" ...

And then we remembered the "Decameron" by Boccaccio.

It is such a rich book about life in all its facets, and we found it to be the best of all literary suggestions.

In the next few days (and weeks?) from time to time we will post something: stories, pictures and of course recipes.

We hope you will like it!

Aurora, Amira and Annette

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Comment by Lee Dewsnap |

What a lovely idea, thank you for sharing :)


Reply by Annette Greifenhagen

Dear Lee,
thank you so much for liking our blog. It feels so good not to be alone!
All the best to you on the other side of the world and we hope that you will not have to go through all this.
Take care

Comment by Debbie Morrall |

Dear friends, we are glad to hear that you are safe and well but sad to hear that Wolfgang is unable to return from Germany. At least you are in a beautiful place, at a beautiful time of year and well away from other people.
We have social distancing restrictions here but can still go out for walks if we keep our distance from others. We can also shop for food and medicines but most other businesses are closed now. There is a lot of panic buying for food and certain items.
We are keeping busy sowing and planting vegetables in our small garden, recycling wood to make extra planters, getting creative (even more) with cooking and online teaching resources for Tango.
Stay safe and well. Abrazos,Debbie & Steve

Reply by Annette Greifenhagen

Dear Debbie and Steve,
thank you so much for thinking of us and for sending your wishes.
We are thinking of all the unforgettable happy weeks that we had with you in the past years at La Rogaia and hope we all get over this crisis soon.
Probably gardens will look better this year than ever before! There is always something good even in the worst situations.
Let's keep sowing hope!
All the best to you, stay well!