Italian Language Blog

Love with Francesco Petrarca Posted by on Feb 10, 2022 in Culture, Holidays

Ciao a tutti!

San Valentino is right around the corner, so I thought I’d share a 700 year old love story.

Francesco Petrarca was an Italian renaissance poet and scholar. He is also credited with rediscovering the letters of Cicero, a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar and philosopher. This rediscovery is said to have actually initiated the 14th-century Renaissance in public affairs, humanism, and classical Roman culture, and is why he is known as the “father of the Renaissance.”

But despite all of that, Petrarca, commonly anglicized as Petrarch, was simply a man in love.

His collection of Italian verses, known as the “Canzoniere” in English: “Petrarch’s Sonnets,” was inspired by his unrequited passion for Laura, a young  woman he first saw in the church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon. Her true identity isn’t certain, but it is thought that she was Frenchwoman Laura de Noves, and she denied him because she was already married.

Apparently they had little or no contact, but this first sight of her in 1327 was enough for him to long for her until her death from the plague in 1348, when he then found his grief was just as difficult to bear. All in all, he wrote 366 sonnets dedicated to her.

Later in his life Petrarch wrote: “In my younger days I struggled constantly with an overwhelming but pure love affair—my only one, and I would have struggled with it longer had not premature death, bitter but salutary for me, extinguished the cooling flames. I certainly wish I could say that I have always been entirely free from desires of the flesh, but I would be lying if I did”.

Sonnet 227

Italian English

Aura che quelle chiome bionde et crespe
cercondi et movi, et se’ mossa da loro,
soavemente, et spargi quel dolce oro,
et poi ’l raccogli, e ’n bei nodi il rincrespe,

tu stai nelli occhi ond’amorose vespe
mi pungon sí, che ’nfin qua il sento et ploro,
et vacillando cerco il mio tesoro,
come animal che spesso adombre e ’ncespe:

ch’or me ’l par ritrovar, et or m’accorgo
ch’i’ ne son lunge, or mi sollievo or caggio,
ch’or quel ch’i’ bramo, or quel ch’è vero scorgo.

Aër felice, col bel vivo raggio
rimanti; et tu corrente et chiaro gorgo,
ché non poss’io cangiar teco vïaggio?

Breeze, blowing that blonde curling hair,
stirring it, and being softly stirred in turn,
scattering that sweet gold about, then
gathering it, in a lovely knot of curls again,

you linger around bright eyes whose loving sting
pierces me so, till I feel it and weep,
and I wander searching for my treasure,
like a creature that often shies and kicks:

now I seem to find her, now I realize
she’s far away, now I’m comforted, now despair,
now longing for her, now truly seeing her.

Happy air, remain here with your
living rays: and you, clear running stream,
why can’t I exchange my path for yours?


Buon San Valentino e viva l’amore! 

Photo from Pixabay, CCO.

Keep learning Italian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.


  1. Laraine philp:

    Thankyou for your recent sonnet 227 which you posted on my phone. I loved it. I love reading poetry in English but in Italian it makes it even more delightful and romantic to read. Thankyou. I don’t always leave many comments but I do appreciate your posts.

    • Bridgette:

      @Laraine philp Thank you Laraine! I agree that reading it in Italian is certainly more beautiful! 🙂

Leave a comment: