Day 3 Story 5 of the Decameron features a main character who is referred to by the name of Zima:

Now there was then in Pistoia a young man, Ricciardo by name, of low origin but great wealth, who went always so trim and fine and foppish of person, that folk had bestowed upon him the name of Zima, by which he was generally known.

What is the significance of the name "Zima"? It seems that this word has some meaning or implication in Italian, as "folk had bestowed [the name] upon him" due to his nature.

1 Answer 1


According to the notes to the BUR edition (by Amedeo Quondam, Maurizio Fiorilla and Giancarlo Alfano) and those to the Einaudi edition (by Vittore Branca) of the Decameron (Italian original), the name Zima comes from the adjective "azzimato", which, according to Treccani dictionary, means

vestito e ripulito con ricercatezza, lisciato.

"Vestito e ripulito con ricercatezza" means "dressed and cleaned with refinement". "Lisciato" is the past participle of "lisciare", a verb that in this context has this figurative sense:

Di persona, con uso estens. (e in frasi per lo più scherz. o lievemente iron.), ravviarsi, pettinarsi con cura, trattare il volto con cosmetici, e in genere farsi pulito ed elegante, nel corpo e negli abiti, con attenzione eccessiva

My translation:

Of a person, with extensive use (and in mostly joking or slightly ironic phrases), getting dressed, combing their hair carefully, treating the face with cosmetics, and generally getting clean and elegant, in body and clothes, with excessive attention

In his note, Vittore Branca adds the following observation:

e non doveva esser nomignolo troppo raro, poiché in una pergamena dell’Archivio del Monastero del Cestello di Firenze, del 18 luglio 1300 (F 93), si trova, come già segnalò il Manni, un «Zima figliuolo del quondam Rinieri del Bagno».

My translation:

And it must not have been too rare a nickname, since in a parchment from the Archive of the Monastery of Cestello in Florence, dated from 18th July 1300 (F 93), there is, as Manni already pointed out, a "Zima son of Rinieri del Bagno".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.