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The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  829 ratings  ·  172 reviews
A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.

Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Alyssa Palombo
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This is my second novel, about real-life historical figure Simonetta Vespucci and how she inspired the artist Sandro Botticelli. I can't wait for everyone to read it! :)
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who miss Florence and love Boticelli
Shelves: netgalley
Book hits stores on 25/04/17!

Reading this book was as enjoyable as sipping an Italian wine while admiring art. Gosh, I just loved this story and all the characters. It makes me wish that I could just hope on a plane and head for Florence this minute! Alyssa Palombo is a new author to me, but her writing kept me glued to my seat and my heart swelled as she brought Simonetta Vespucci's story to life. In her author's note, Palombo explains that as an author she did have to flesh out Simonetta's
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant is about all I can say about this new novel, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence expertly written by Alyssa Palombo.

Set in 15th Century Italy we learn all about Simonetta Castaneo, the most beautiful woman in Florence, her life and tribulations, loves and losses and her life with her husband, Marco and what happens when she meets Sandro Botticelli a young painter who captures her heart and inner most desires.

We learn what it would be like to be the most beautiful woman in Florence, to
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
The gorgeous cover of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN FLORANCE caught my eyes a couple of months ago and the book's description about the muse of Botticelli who inspired him to paint The Birth of Venus sounded very intriguing. I love reading historical fiction about real people and I was very happy when I got the chance to read this book. The Birth of Venus is a very famous painting, but I have to admit that Sandro Botticelli's life is not something that I had any knowledge about. However, that made ...more
Theresa Smith
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence is a splendid novel of historical fiction, its story richly draped in the culture of the Renaissance and woven tightly with threads of passion and indulgence. It’s a most perfect study of life at the top in a changing social order, the constraints of being a woman of noble birth, and the curse that comes with possessing beauty that is revered by all.

Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci was a real woman in history. During her tragically short life she was regarded, in
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Simonetta Cattaneo, a young, intelligent girl who became known as the "Most Beautiful Woman of Florence" and who developed a close, intimate relationship with the famous Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli.

It is a story about familial responsibilities, duty, strength, coming-of-age, friendship, art, passion, desire, loss and love.

Simonetta was a feminist ahead of her time who understood quickly that her beauty was both a gift and a curse,
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
"The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence" is pretty clearly influenced by Phillipa Gregory and other similar recent female-centric historical fiction and not in a good way. As with Gregory, the setting feels more like a Ren Faire than the past, most of the secondary female characters are cardboard illustrations of how not to behave, and for all that the book wants to comment on misogyny, the protagonist seems to have very little inner life that doesn't relate back to men.

I don't like to nitpick
The Lit Bitch
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last year I had the pleasure of being introduced to Alyssa Palombo’s debut novel, The Violinist of Venice, a love story about Antonio Vivaldi. I love how Palombo takes relatively well known and passionate artists (musicians and painters) and crafts a historical fiction novel.

People like Antonio Vivaldi and in this book, Sandro Botticelli, aren’t characters that I would think of in history and decide to write a romantic novel about them which is what makes these books so unique to me.

Bethany Everett
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot express how much Alyssa Palombo's books mean to me. The Violinist of Venice will always be my absolute favourite book ever written, but The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence is right up there with it. I am embarrassed at how long it took me to read this, but it is just because it is so good that I never wanted it to end. I can't stand waiting for another one of these books! The writing in this book and The Violinist is so incredibly beautiful and it draws you in and flows so smoothly. I ...more
Jenny Q
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
3.5 Stars. Simonetta Cattaneo is a beautiful young woman, raised in Genoa with a sheltered childhood, allowed to learn the basics of reading and writing, but not allowed to further her education beyond that, though she yearns to study the great masters of literature and art. So when a handsome young Florentine man comes calling with poetry and promises of a grand life in Florence, a city alive with new ideas and overflowing with art and literature, Simonetta gladly accepts his offer.

Crystal King
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have always loved the works of Botticelli, and have seen the famous painting of the Birth of Venus in the Uffizi. I was not prepared, however, for the way that Alyssa yanked me into her story and kept me there, so smitten was I that I stayed up far too late in the night to find out what happened to the beautiful Simonetta and her love, Sandro. I will never again be able to look at a Botticelli and not think of this novel. The characters are masterfully wrought, the setting of Florence bright ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
That was fantastic. So much atmosphere in the city of Florence and so much emotion from Simonetta's tragic story. Lovelovelooooove how this author interpreted the known parts of her history with invention & how she tied Boticelli to Simonetta.

This was so good it made me immediately go buy the author's debut novel about Vivaldi, The Violinst of Venice.

Rebecca Bowyer
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a gorgeously written story of a beautiful young woman’s discovery of love, art and poetry in Renaissance Florence.

Full confession: I was already a huge fan of Alyssa Palombo’s beautifully lyrical writing and ability to capture music in words after reading her first novel, The Violinist of Venice.

She has turned her poetic pen to distilling art into words in The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and does not disappoint. The rich artistic landscape of Renaissance Florence comes alive through
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars .. This cover ... stunning! So beautiful and fully evocative of what life in Florence during the Renaissance is about .. youth, beauty, a bit of mystery, desire.

This is Ms. Palombo's second book and it's a brilliant effort. My only wish would be for it to be longer! I fully immersed myself in the life of Simonetta and truly did not want to leave. Everything from life among the Medici family to the true over-indulgences of the time are all here on the pages. It's a life of excess with
Stephanie (Bookfever)
Wow! This story was something very special. Botticelli is one of my favorite artists so I just had to read this. It really reawakened my love for books set in the Renaissance and Italy. Both have always been favorite topics of mine to read about, especially Florence. I devoured this book in less than two days, which I didn't think I'd be able to but I just couldn't put the book down.

This book tells the story about Simonetta Cattaneo who was declared the most beautiful woman in Florence. After
Ashley Gallegos
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another fantastic historical fiction read from Alyssa Palombo! I adored this one and loved how she made the characters come to life while staying true to the history!
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence" is the story of Simonetta, a woman who men fawn after whenever she walks by. At first she believes she is living a charmed life with a husband who actually adores and loves her and artists like Sandro Botticelli who want to paint her likeness. Looks can be deceiving though as we see in this latest historical fiction offering from Alyssa Palombo.

You've probably seen pictures of Simonetta. She is the muse for some of Botticelli's most famous paintings. I
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Set in Florence during the time of the greatest patron of Renaissance artists, Lorenzo de Medici, (de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic), second part of the 15th century. Simonetta Cattaneo of Genoa and noble family marries Marco Vespucci of Florence (the cousin-in-law of Amerigo Vespucci – explorer) at the age of 16. She is not an ordinary woman. She craves knowledge, which is claimed not necessary for girls as “No man wants a wife as well learned as he is.” But the enlightened city of ...more
Carla Catalano
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 STARS for The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli by Alyssa Palombo! 15th Century Italy is where we meet the beautiful Simonetta Cattaneo. She has numerous admirers, but is courted by Marco Vespucci and swiftly married in Florence. Beauty becomes a major theme running throughout this captivating novel. We know that Simonetta is not just a pretty face even though all the men, including Guiliano Medici, swoon at her feet. As the novel builds to a climax, Simonetta has cause ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
2-3 stars ... In Alyssa Palombo’s first novel, The Violinist of Venice, she tells the story of the composer Antonio Vivaldi and his secret, wealthy mistress, Adriana d’Amato. Her second, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, examines a different kind of artist — painter Sandro Botticelli — and his beautiful but married muse for “The Birth of Venus,” Simonetta Vespucci.

Palombo is clearly enamored with not just Italy and the arts, but also with passion and forbidden love.

Rest of review can be
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a masterpiece. It brings to life the Birth of Venus in a way I never thought possible, uncovering a fictional (but totally believable and swoon-worthy) love story behind Boticelli's work. Thanks to Alyssa's development of Simonetta's character and voice, I loved Simonetta like a dear friend, following her through the foreign, artful, and sometimes scandalous streets of Florence. As the love story between Simonetta and Boticelli began to blossom, there was no doubt in my mind that ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-physical
Probably closer to 4.5 stars.

When I received an email from St. Martin's Press asking if I would be interested in reading an advance copy of this book, I of course said yes. Not only do I love historical fiction set in the Renaissance, especially if art is involved, but I also love the city of Florence. And this book was an absolute delight.

For one thing, the author does a great job establishing the historical setting. You can tell she did her research into the time period, and the historical
Attack Salmon
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
This book nearly pull my heart out.

Its about real life historical figure Sandro Botticelli using Simonetta Vespucci as his model. Very little facts could be known about the relationship Sandro and Simonetta of course. Are they lovers??? Does Simonetta really model nude for Sandro??

Frankly I don't know what I am getting myself into. Of course we already know what happened as its based on a real historical event. Can a book still surprise you when u already know how it gonna end? Most probably
Sahuna Imran
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book beginning with the cover, the setting, the characters and the story, even the authors note at the end of the book was interesting. Simonette the main protagonist is one the strongest female character that I have read about and to learn that she actually existed in our history and her proof of existence in Botticelli's paintings is too good to be put in words. The description of Botticelli's appearance, his character, his paintings and his wish to be buried near ...more
Holly P
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am a sucker for a historical fiction novel that centers around artists so this book immediately caught my eye. In reading through this novel, I discovered that the subtitle is actually a bit of misnomer because while Botticelli is in this book, the real star of this tale is Simonetta Vespucci-Botticelli's muse. The book follows Simonetta as she marries, moves to Florence and embraces her new life surrounded by people who value all the things she does-art, culture, and learning. I also love ...more
Sandi Van
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simonetta Cattaneo moves to Florence to marry Marco Vespucci and quickly becomes known as the most beautiful woman in town. She is admired by everyone she meets, not only for her beauty but also for her love of art and poetry. Simonetta catches the eye of painter Sandro Botticelli, and she becomes a model and muse for his work. Ultimately Simonetta must chose where he heart lies as she risks her marriage and reputation to pose for The Birth of Venus. It is refreshing to read books based on ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway
What an enjoyable historical romance! THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN FLORENCE: A STORY OF BOTTICELLI begins in 1469 with the marriage plans of Simonetta Cattaneo who moves to Florence, Italy to marry Marco Vespucci. The book drew me in immediately with all the descriptions: the Medici family, the arts and the artists, the literature, the architecture and the politics. This all turns into a captivating romance between between Simoneta and Botticelli who is actually buried at Simonetta's feet. This ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am in love with this book! It was just so beautiful. I loved Simonetta and how she was determined to be her own person even when society didn't want her to be. No one knows for sure I guess if she was really like that, but I like to think this a fairly accurate portrayal. There were a bit more "sexy time" scenes then I thought there would be but I wasn't complaining ;) I also loved the actual history of it too. I'm taking a class on the Renaissance and Reformation and so it was so cool to read ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't get enough of Alyssa Palombo's writing. It's lush, gorgeous, and effortlessly transports you to another time and place. I loved the blending of art and history, romance and politics. We've all seen The Birth of Venus, but it was fascinating to read about the woman who inspired the painting and her relationship with Botticelli. A beautifully evocative read! I can't recommend it enough.
The enthralling Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci (who tragically dies of consumption in her early 20s) captivates not only Genoa but also sophisticated Florence - the Medicis, the hoi polloi, and Sandro Botticelli who manages to convince the beauty (after much sighing and staring at each other across tables) to disrobe for the Renaissance masterpiece, the Birth of Venus.
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My name is Alyssa Palombo, and I am a writer living and working in Buffalo, NY. I attended Canisius College in Buffalo, where I majored in English and creative writing with a minor in music. I’m a classically trained mezzo-soprano who also dabbles in playing piano. When not writing, I can usually be found reading, hanging out and laughing way too hard at nonsensical inside jokes with friends, ...more