A Very Brief Look at PADUA
As I continue my quest to set my medieval romances in beautiful and history-rich cities of Italy, my latest release, MINE TO KEEP, takes place in Padua (It. Padova) in 1405. There is no specific reason I chose this particular city other than I was able to find a decent amount of information for the time period. (Unless I’m researching medieval Florence, Venice or Rome, it’s difficult at best to get the details I’m looking for.)
Padua claims to be the oldest city in northern Italy, founded in 1183 BC. by the Trojan Antenor, as the legend goes. At the time of my story, Padua had just come under Venetian rule, ending the power of the Carraresi family who were lords of Padua since 1318.
The city sits on the Bacchiglione River and has waterways similar to the canals of Venice. Padua is famous for its university, its origin dating back to 1222 when a group of law students migrated from Bologna. They formed a free association, which granted the teachers and students freedom of thought. This freedom attracted notable physicians and scientists. Two of its more famous professors were Galileo and Copernicus. The university is Italy’s second oldest after Bologna’s.
The presence of the university boosted Padua’s rich artistic history which includes frescoes by Giotto and Titian as well as Donatello’s impressive bronze statue of the Venetian condottiere Erasmo da Narni upon his horse. Other well-known artists who came to the university were Giotto and Fra Filippo Lippi. But one must take note of an unusual occurrence in the field of equal opportunity. In the 17th century, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia was the first woman in the world to obtain a university degree.
The above is barely a scratch in the long, illustrious history of Padua. Art, architecture and the high level of learning brought economical and prosperous times to Padua that lasted until the fall of the republic in 1797.
Jannine Corti Petska
Lady Elizabella Aldrich receives notice of an inheritance in Padua, Italy. Arriving from England, she discovers another heir lays claim to the castle. An unreasonably handsome Italian rogue stands between her and the castle she’s inherited.
Leonardo Da Mitri never met the noble who included him in his will. But after one look at Lady Eliza he relishes the challenge of defeating the beauty to make the castle his own.
Astonished to learn they must wed and remain married for a year, it soon becomes apparent someone does not want the nuptials to take place. As Eliza fights her growing desire for Leo, he fights for his life. Will he walk away from his inheritance—and Eliza? Or is he willing to risk everything to stay married to the woman who has claimed his heart as hers… to keep?
The Wild Rose Press
Signor Da Mitri nodded then held his hand out toward the table. “It has been left up until you ate your first meal. Do sit.”
“The table has been set up since I arrived.”
Couldn’t he see she wasn’t easy to sweet talk or sway? “I shall accept your offer, for I am ravenous.”
His eyes twinkled. “Sì, I too am ravenous.”
Eliza wasn’t stupid. She knew exactly what he was hungry for. More pointedly who. She sat on the bench with grace and slid close to the end, away from the Italian. “Did you not partake of the morning meal?”
“My appetite has suddenly returned.”
Eliza couldn’t help the frown turning down the corners of her mouth. When he had the audacity to sit beside her, she wanted to scream. “There is plenty of bench for you to move to the opposite end.”
“How will we converse? I fear I am in no mood to shout.”
And in no mood to be truthful either, she might have chastised, had he not given her a stunning smile. Her frown deepened, and she held herself back. Having no other recourse—except taking her meal in her bedchamber—Eliza turned away from him and tried to concentrate on the hearth. She might have succeeded if the signore hadn’t brushed against her arm. She scooted to the very end of the bench. Any farther, she’d land on the floor. She’d had more than enough of that particular humiliation.
The servant chuckled, rattling Eliza’s forbearance. Why did men find annoying a lady amusing?
“Your food will be out shortly,” the servant said with a bow of his head.
He walked away, his upper body slightly bent forward. Eliza upheld her silence and reinforced the protective wall she’d erected. She hoped Signor Da Mitri understood that she wanted no part of his menial conversation. The cretin didn’t take the hint.
“Where in England do you live?”
She searched his face to decide if he was serious or being playful. “I would rather not say.” A modest smile drew her attention to his lips. “Where in Italy do you live?”
“Here,” came his quick response, along with a wide grin.
“What did you just say?”
“I know that,” she spit out. He really did think she was stupid. “Carina. What does that mean?”
He answered with another smile. His head drew nearer. His mouth moved closer. His lips floated, she was sure of it. Eliza held her breath, afraid to speak without stuttering from apprehension.
The moment his smooth lips dusted hers, she shivered. Never mind the indecency of what he was doing. Her heart raced, and heat bloomed over her entire body. She had no control, it seemed, because her own lips accepted his in an explosion of unfamiliar sensations. She gripped the bench with one hand and the table with the other. He rested his hand on stopped her from losing her senses to Signor Da Mitri’s kiss. It was heavenly, and she pouted when he lifted his head away.
“Ah, signorina,” he whispered. “A kiss beyond all others.”
Beyond all others? She’d best retain a sharp mind, else the rogue would steel her inheritance away. She crossed her arms. “I am sure you have tasted the lips of many ladies, but you are lying, signore. That was my first kiss, and doubtless it is to be above all the other women you have kissed.”
“I beg to differ. I spoke the truth.”
Entranced by the huskiness in his voice, Eliza gasped when he kissed her again, this one bolder,
more forceful. His hands framed her face as if to make certain she didn’t end the kiss prematurely.
Slapping him crossed her mind…until he folded her into his embrace, tilting her head back and bracing it with his hand. The heat she’d felt before was mild compared to the fire consuming her from head to leather-bottomed shoes. She gripped his waist, afraid the flames were real and she’d perish. Never had she experienced such wonderful shivers marching up and down her back.
Gooseflesh attacked her arms. Her head spun out of control. The tip of his tongue slipped out and traced her lips. It was wrong. Yet it was right. A voice of decency spoke up and filled her head with the reasons she shouldn’t allow the signore to kiss her, to caress her body.
“He is molesting milady,” Leticia shouted from across the hall.
Their kiss ended abruptly. Both turned to find the maidservant running toward them, a broom raised in her hands. Eliza had no time to cool her body’s unwanted desire. She jumped to her feet, but with Signor Da Mitri’s weight, the bench didn’t budge. She tipped backward, desperately grasping for the table. He reached out to save her, instead closing his fingers over her breasts.
“You dishonorable beast,” Leticia screeched.
The last thing Eliza remembered was her maidservant whacking the signore with her broom.