The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa PalomboAlyssa Palombo_Credit Elizabeth Snyder Photography, LLC

Goodreads rating: 4.07

Pages: 309

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Date published: April 25th, 2017 (USA)

Goodreads // Buy this book: Paperback


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 glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence―most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

My Review

Very big thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

Firstly, I have to say I really liked this story, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually enjoy Historical Fiction!

I thought Alyssa Palombo did a great job of making you feel as if you were actually in Italy, living all of it through Simonetta’s eyes, who, by the way, is an amazing female protagonist. I would describe her as a very intelligent 15th-century feminist who was, unfortunately, only praised for her looks.

I loved the way she intertwined Botticelli and Simonetta’s lives together. We know it is fictional, but it still feels very real and plausible.

Her writing is quite gripping, so once I started, I had to keep going and know what would happen next! The historical aspects were pretty spot on as well, so I recommend this book to anyone who is into Italian history, culture, and art – namely Renaissance.

I also recommend observing The Birth of Venus before and after reading this book. You will have a different perspective on it and it is quite interesting to see the differences!

Overall this story has great, intricate characters, and is a very well-thought-out “retelling” of historical figures’ lives. An excellent Spring read, focused on art, friendship and love, featuring a female character way ahead of her time!


★★★☆☆ · 3/5 stars

Thank you so much for reading this review!

If you’re interested in more reviews, here is a list

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