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Bianca Cappello

Love and Death, Medici Style

Bianca Cappello, by Allori

An exceptional beauty, Bianca Cappello was born in 1548 into one of Venice's wealthiest and most noble families, and was promised in marriage to a Doge three times her age. Rather than marry him, she eloped to Florence in 1563 with Pietro Bonaventura, a humble but handsome Florentine bankers’ clerk whom she espied passing beneath her window, an impetuous act of love that called down the full fury of the unsentimental Venetian Senate. The young couple were sentenced to death in absentia and attempts to drag Bianca back to Venice were thwarted by Cosimo I.

Bianca's youthful indiscretion was forgotten even by the Venetians, however, when Cosimo's son and heir, Francesco, fell in love with her at first sight (apparently he too had been looking out a window and fell in love at first sight). Francesco had a lugubrious, obsessive character, but unusual for future Grand Duke was fascinated with fireworks, porcelain and other sciences which he explored in his private Studiolo in the Palazzo Vecchio.

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All About the Medici

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by PD Art