Malatesta : Rimini

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Paolo and Francesca da Rimini

Dante Alighieri and Boccaccio relate

A love story that has become famous

 

Contemporary chronicles, perhaps more interested in the wars between the signory, or perhaps obliged by the two powerful families, the Malatesta and the de Polenta, involved in the tragic happening, to keep quiet, do not give notice of the story of love and death sung by Dante. Less reticent than Dante, Boccaccio, who in his Comment on the Divine Comedy furnishes us with a detailedaccount of the event, even if in a very romantic style.

The marriage between Gianciotto Malatesta and Francesca da Polenta was arrangedby the two families in order to consolidate a politicalalliance between the two powerful guelfi clans of the Romagna; as told by the writer, Paolo, mistaken by Francesca to be her intended husband, was sent to sign the marriage contract. This deception was the cause of the drama. Francesca discovered the truth of her mistake only after her marriage.

The passion that united Paolo and Francesca was consummated during the absence of Gianciotto, called to cover the post of podesta’ in another city. Informed by a servant, the betrayed husband returned, and surprising the two lovers, threw himself on his brother. Francesca, mortally wounded in the attempt to defend Paolo, collapsed first. Gianciotto then, overcome with fury and pain, killed his brother.

Still today historians question the place and date of this episode. Pesaro, Verucchio, Gradara, Meldola, Ghiaggiolo, Bellaria e Santarcangelo, consider Riminithe scene. In 1870 the Rimini historian, Luigi Tonini, gave as the stage of the event the city of Rimini, and more precisely, a house in the present day piazza Tre Martiri, or perhaps, where Castel Sismondo stood, and proposed the date as 1283.

But speculation about the facts continue.