Private Renaissance

These pages tell the story of Isabella d’Este, who became marchioness of Mantua after her marriage to Francesco Gonzaga.

It is not a simple yet refined biography, however, but a true novel: both for the presence of some totally invented characters – such as Robert de la Pole, correspondent of the king of England and platonic lover of Isabella – and above all for the quality of the writing, which seems to envelop every figure and every historical fact in a sort of dazzling dust.

The absolute protagonist is her, Isabella, who, at the age of sixty, recalls her life from when, as a sixteen-year-old bride, she arrived in Mantua and, in one of the most tumultuous and shining periods of our history, between the 15th and 16th centuries, held the reins of the small state, building a court of unequalled splendour around her.

Considered by critics to be Maria Bellonci‘s masterpiece. Once again, upon publication critics applaud the way Bellonci portrays historical figures: she shows the same rigor and precision as a professional historian but manages to make each character come alive through the page. Rinascimento privato was awarded the Strega Prize after the author’s death, in 1986.