AGNOLO FIRENZUOLA (pseudonym of Michelangelo Giovannini) was born in Florence on September 28, 1493 and took his pen name from his family home in the Apennines. He was the son of Bastiano de’ Giovannini and of Lucrezia Braccesi. After a standard education, he went on to study law in Siena and Perugia, where he met and befriended Pietro Aretino.
After taking vows as a Vallombrosian monk, he was transferred to Rome in 1518. There he served as procurator of the Vallombrosian Order at the papal Curia and as abbot of Santa Prassede. During this period his love for the Roman noblewoman Costanza Amaretta led him to abandon law for a literary career based on the new humanism.
In December 1524 he published his Discacciamento de le nuove lettere inutilmente aggiunte ne la lingua toscana. In May 1525 he dedicated the first giornata of his Ragionamenti(Tales) to Maria Caterina Cybo, duchess of Camerino. The work was planned around stories told on six days and composed on the model of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. The Tales were published posthumously in 1552 and remain his most important work.
In May 1526, perhaps due to an unknown malady that lasted for about a decade, he was released from his monastic vows by Pope Clement VII and went on to live as a secular clergyman. He returned to Florence in 1534 and then moved to Prato where he died on June 27, 1543.
Other works include: La Trinuzia, I Lucidi, Dialogo delle bellezze delle donne, and Metamorfosi, a translation of Apuleius.