Pietro Barbino

In Writing on September 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm

In the spirit of writing more, this week I’ve decided to tackle another writing challenge, specifically the Trifecta Writing Challenge, where we’re given a one-word prompt on which to base a 33 to 333 word story. This week the word is ample.

Now, in the Boboli Gardens in Florence there is a statue of a fat dwarf sitting naked astride a giant turtle, and for some reason this was the very first thing I thought of when I read the prompt (but let’s not read too much into that, ok?). The statue is of Pietro Barbino, court jester to Cosimo I de’Medici, a Tuscan Duke of the 16th century.

But I won’t bore you with Wikipedia research. Let’s just get to his story, shall we?

Pietro Barbino, Cosimo I's dwarf jester

I took this picture of Mr. Barbino myself. You should be thankful it’s a little blurry.

Pietro Barbino

Pietro Barbino was short of stature, ample of bosom, and drunk of wine.  He tottered to the fountain and sat with a groan.

Cosimo,” he said, letting the word fall from his lips like dribbled port. “Cosimo de’Medici. First of his name – except for the other one – Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany.”

He spat and held out his empty hand.

“The wineskin, Giovanni,” he said, but the boy wasn’t listening; he was staring wistfully up at the villa, where cascades of laughter had just then burst from the courtyard.

“You’re six, Giovanni,” Pietro said, though not unkindly. “That’s old enough to know what a bastard is and old enough to know that this will never be your home, not really. But stick with me and I’ll be your father. Surely I’d be better to you than Cosimo de’Medici… The wine, boy, bring it here.”

Giovanni may have been young, but the boy was every bit as tall as Pietro himself – and taller now that he stood while the dwarf sat. He eyed Pietro disdainfully, and seemed poised to disobey, but at last he handed him the skin.

“You never make me laugh,” he said. “What good are you if you won’t make me laugh? You are my father’s jester, aren’t you?”

Pietro uncorked the skin, took a long drink and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.

“Your father’s jester, yes, but not yours. Cosimo de’Medici, first of his name, Duke of—“

“Stop it.”

Pietro smirked. He would have gone on, but his thirst was strong. He emptied the skin and tossed it into the fountain.

“Someday, Giovanni, there will be a statue of me on this very spot,” he said, untying his trousers and relieving himself in the reflecting pool. “Long after your father is dead. Long, indeed, after you are dead – of syphilis or murder or whatever kills young noble bastards these days – and the world will never know or care that I was once another man’s fool.”


A Curious Woman // The Root // Pietro Barbino // The Black Fool // Original Sin

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  1. I like the story you built around the statue. (Oh, the photo may be a little blurry, but it’s plenty clear 🙂

  2. I like this! It is interesting where our minds go sometimes isn’t it? Great job on this.

  3. I really like this. I feel like it rolls around in my mind like wine would in my mouth. Excellent.

  4. The imagination flows when we allow it to, doesn’t it? A statue of the jester but not of the noble is its own reward. Nice take on the prompt.

  5. Your writing is strong and confident. They carry the story in an invisible hand, instead of eat it with an overbearing mouth. That’s a rare trait. Rare, indeed.

  6. This is one of the most interesting takes on the prompt I’ve read so far; I’d enjoy reading more of Pietro. Well done.

    And my, that is quite a statue.

  7. Wow! Couldn’t help thinking of Tyrion Lannister, and the similar themes of physical appearance forcing people to play roles publicly that are nothing like they are privately. Well done.

    • Much appreciated! I saw that comparison as I went along, too – with the exception maybe that Pietro only aspires to manipulate / dominate and never quite pulls it off. Hopefully they’re not too too similar haha

  8. You gave that statue life. And a story. Brilliantly done, your visuals were perfectly sculpted.

  9. Giovanni is in for a lot of abuse from Pietro, but seems up to the task. This is the start of a very interesting story. Very nice write.

  10. You have some really great turns of phrase here. I love, fall from his lips like dribbled port. Nice work. Thanks for linking up!

  11. […] meaningless]. It is the third and, I should think, final story featuring Pietro Barbino. To see where he got his start, and how he got himself into this particular mess, click here and […]

  12. […] Curious Woman // Pietro Barbino // The Black Fool // Original […]

  13. […] Some Favorite Posts: The Regenerating Man // The Albino Black Cowboy // Ky’Awe // The Mill in the Kip // Pietro Barbino […]

  14. […] Curious Woman // The Root // Pietro Barbino // The Black Fool // Original […]

  15. […] Curious Woman // The Root // Pietro Barbino // The Black Fool // Original Sin // Man and […]

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