The Rose of Florence
Angela M. Sims
Prologue (1460):Gianetta is born in a farmhouse in Fiesole. Her mother dies in childbirth. The unnamed father is distraught but leaves her in the care of her grandmother and returns home.The Story (1478):Gianetta grows up and moves to Florence, where she is in service to a wealthy family of textile merchants – the Rosini. They are friends to and supporters of the powerful Medici clan. In the small, tight-knit group of staff, we meet Eleonora (cook), Luigi (Signor Francesco Rosini’s private assistant), Antonio and Lucia and our hero, Matteo. Gianetta and Matteo are in love and have a happy, peaceful life with the kind and generous Rosini family. They enjoy entertaining at Palazzo Rosini, where the Medici and Botticelli are frequent visitors.
Following the suspected poisoning of Lorenzo de’ Medici and near death of Giuliano de’ Medici, both within the Rosini family home, there is suspicion that there is a traitor in the house and speculation as to who it might be.
In Botticelli’s workshop (where Matteo worked previously), there is discussion about unrest in Florence with rumours in the city that Medici days in power are numbered, and there may be trouble at Easter.
Setting the scene: Matteo is a manservant in Palazzo Rosini, and Cesare Conti is a guest at the family banquet that night, but clearly, they have come across each other before…
Matteo remained behind to make sure that all the guests’ cloaks were hanging neatly and away from the fire, so that they didn’t smell of smoke by the end of the evening. He hadn’t noticed a figure standing quietly behind him until he heard a slight cough. Turning round, he almost bumped straight into Cesare Conti. He had been half expecting this but had hoped to avoid a direct conversation with him.
“Signor Conti,” he said, with a small bow. “Can I help you?”
“Oh, I think you have already helped me enough, don’t you?” The young man’s piercing green eyes looked directly at Matteo. Then, as if the sun had come out, Cesare broke into a beaming smile and put his arm around Matteo.
“I just wanted to thank you…for last week. What a coincidence that you should be passing, just as I was leaving that place.”
“I have to pass it occasionally when I am running errands for Eleonora. What goes on there is no concern of mine, ser.” Matteo was uncomfortable and hoped that was the end of the conversation. He made to move towards the stairs, but Cesare’s grip tightened.
“We are grown men…er…”
“We are grown men, Matteo. Women serve a purpose from time to time. Indeed, some are very beautiful, but some of us also have other needs, which must be satisfied. Sadly, the city looks on some of those needs as vices, the “Florentine vice”, I believe some call it.” He shook his head, sadly. “Whatever the rights or wrongs of the situation, I could have been arrested that day. You could have turned me in to the guard, and the life I have now would have been over. But you didn’t, and I wondered why.”
“It’s none of my business, ser. As I said, I pass that place often, and who I see going in or coming out is no concern of mine.”
The Rose of Florence is my first novel, borne of a love for the history, art and city of Florence, grown over many years. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.
My background is in healthcare, and I have been a University lecturer since 2010. My writing experience was limited to a Masters dissertation, purely academic, but the research skills I learned during that process were soon put to use in researching my favourite topic, the Italian Renaissance. It didn’t take long before the seeds of a story began to germinate, and The Rose of Florence blossomed.
I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) and the New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) in 2020 and found the encouragement and resources available taught me so much about the process and skills needed to write fiction. I have been lucky enough to have the support of the same NWS reviewer since joining, and her advice and guidance has proven invaluable, and I am now a contender for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2023 for debut authors.
I am also a member of the Society of Authors.
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