(1) The name of a Florentine family famous for the extraordinary ugliness of its men: whereby it came to pass that any grotesque or extremely ugly man was called a Baroncio. Fanfani, Vocab. della Lingua Italiana, 1891.
— Michele Scalza proves to certain young men that the Baronci are the best gentlemen in the world and the Maremma, and wins a supper. —
The ladies were still laughing over Giotto’s ready retort, when the queen charged Fiammetta to follow suit; wherefore thus Fiammetta began:—Pamfilo’s mention of the Baronci, who to you, Damsels, are perchance not so well known as to him, has brought to my mind a story in which ’tis shewn how great is their nobility; and, for that it involves no deviation from our rule of discourse, I am minded to tell it you.
’Tis no long time since there dwelt in our city a young man, Michele Scalza by name, the pleasantest and merriest fellow in the world, and the best furnished with quaint stories: for which reason the Florentine youth set great store on having him with them when they forgathered in company. Now it so befell that one day, he being with a party of them at Mont’ Ughi, they fell a disputing together on this wise; to wit, who were the best gentlemen and of the longest descent in Florence. One said, the Uberti, another, the Lamberti, or some other family, according to the predilection of the speaker. Whereat Scalza began to smile, and said:—“Now out upon you, out upon you, blockheads that ye are: ye know not what ye say. The best gentlemen and of longest descent in all the world and the Maremma (let alone Florence) are the Baronci by the common consent of all phisopholers,(1) and all that know them as I do; and lest you should otherwise conceive me, I say that ’tis of your neighbours the Baronci(2) of Santa Maria Maggiore that I speak.” Whereupon the young men, who had looked for somewhat else from him, said derisively:—“Thou dost but jest with us; as if we did not know the Baronci as well as thou!” Quoth Scalza:—“By the Gospels I jest not, but speak sooth; and if there is any of you will wager a supper to be given to the winner and six good fellows whom he shall choose, I will gladly do the like, and—what is more—I will abide by the decision of such one of you as you may choose.” Then said one of them whose name was Neri Mannini:—“I am ready to adventure this supper;” and so they agreed together that Piero di Fiorentino, in whose house they were, should be judge, and hied them to