The exact details of his birth are uncertain. A number of sources state that he was born in Paris, but others denounce this as romanticism by the earliest biographers. In this case his birthplace was possibly in Tuscany, perhaps in Certaldo, the town of his father. He was the son of a Florentine merchant and an unknown woman, and almost certainly born illegitimate.
Boccaccio grew up in Florence. His father was working for the Compagnia dei Bardi and in the 1320s married Margherita dei Mardoli, of an illustrious family. It is believed Boccaccio was tutored by Giovanni Mazzuoli and received from him an early introduction to the works of Dante. In 1326 Boccaccio moved to Naples with the family when his father was appointed to head the Neapolitan branch of his bank. Boccaccio was apprenticed to the bank, but it was a trade for which he had no affinity. He eventually persuaded his father to let him study law at the Studium in the city. For the next six years Boccaccio studied canon law there. From there he pursued his interest in scientific and literary studies. His father introduced him to the Neapolitan nobility and the French-influenced court of Robert the Wise in the 1330s. At this time he fell in love with a married daughter of King Robert of Naples (known as Robert the Wise) and she is immortalized as the character "Fiammetta" in many of Boccaccio's prose romances, particularly Il Filocolo (1338). Boccaccio never married, but had three children. Mario and Giulio were born in the 1330s. In the 1340s, Violente was born in Ravenna, where Boccaccio was a guest of Ostasio I da Polenta from about 1345 through 1346.
The Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio lived through the plague as it ravaged the city of Florence in 1348. The experience inspired him to write The Decameron, a story of seven men and three women who escape the disease by fleeing to a villa outside the city. In his introduction to the...