The Botticelli Secret

The Botticelli Secret cover

‘The Botticelli Secret’ by Marina Fiorato

In the heart of Medici Florence, part-time model and full-time prostitute Luciana Vetra stumbles across a deadly secret.

Asked by one of her most exalted clients to pose as a favour for a painter friend, she finds herself the model for the central figure of Flora in Sandro Botticelli’s famous Primavera. During her time in Botticelli’s studiolo, Luciana makes a startling discovery.

She enlists the help of the one man who has never wanted her – novice librarian Brother Guido of Santa Croce, in an effort to explain what she has found.

Monk and Courtesan find themselves in mortal danger as they are pursued through nine cities of Renaissance Italy in an attempt to decode the painting’s secrets.

The pair soon realize that the Primavera’s hidden message reveals a political conspiracy that reaches all the way up to Lorenzo de Medici himself.


Marina drew the illustrations that feature in the book. Before she became a writer she studied illustration.

Marina’s illustrations appear in the ‘Venice’ chapter.

Botticelli Secrets – Trivia about Botticelli

The clues from the novel which are ‘written in rock’ actually exist. The tower carving above the cell door in Santa Croce, the ship on the Tower of Pisa, Old Man Nile in Naples, and the carving of Sant’Ambrogio on the castle gatehouse in Milan, can all be seen to this day. Only the carvings in San Lorenzo in Naples have been lost – in an earthquake.

Botticelli was actually called Alessandro Filipepi. He was known by his nickname ‘little barrel’, an extension of the nickname given to his older brother.

Botticelli was a pupil of renowned artist and monk Fra Filippo Lippi. He, in turn, trained his master’s son, Filippino Lippi. Filippino was the issue of his father’s affair with a nun, a relationship reflected in the book.

Botticelli served on a committee that was set to determine the positioning of Michelangelo’s David in the city of Florence.

In 1478 following the notorious Pazzi conspiracy, Botticelli was commissioned by the Medici to paint the hanging perpetrators upon the wall of the Palazzo Vecchio.

Botticelli painted a series of frescoes in the Sistine chapel, before his colleague Michelangelo came to Rome.

Towards the end of his life Botticelli became a follower of the fanatical monk Girolamo Savonarola. In his devotion, he abandoned his work.

Botticelli lived in the same street as his sometime patron Amerigo Vespucci, the man who gave his name to an empire – America.

Download the First Chapter of The Botticelli Secret in PDF format.


Luciana Vetra, revered prostitute of Florence, earns the chance to pose for Botticelli as Flora in Primavera, but the session goes awry when her innocent words anger the artist. Not one to endure an insult, she retaliates by stealing a smaller version of the painting. Her roommate and patron are killed when the artist sends agents to reclaim the painting, leaving Luciana with only one ally to turn to, the comely novice Brother Guido who has tried to convert her. They flee Florence for their lives and to solve the deadly secret hidden within the artwork. Following her debut, The Glassblower of Murano (2009), Fiorato creates her own masterpiece set at the height of Medici power. Renaissance Italy comes alive in brilliant sights and sounds from marbled halls to filthy sewers. Luciana is irrepressible, unabashed, and an absolute hoot while Guido foils her nicely as the learned, noble Holmes to her Watson. Political intrigue is deftly woven throughout, allowing readers to try their best sleuthing. Fiorato even layers in a charming love story for
good measure.
— Nina C. Davis, Booklist

For anyone who enjoyed The DaVinci Code , Marina Fiorato’s new novel The Botticelli Secret is a wonderful treat, more enjoyable, and filled with more intrigue, passion and excitement. When Venitian whore Luciana Vetra is asked to modeled for famous painter Botticelli for his painting Primavera, she is flattered, thinking it will parlay into her becoming a more sought after courtesan. After taking a sketch of the painting for herself, Luciana is immediately thrown into a race for her life. With the monk Brother Guido at her side, they travel from Florence to Pisa, Naples, Rome, Venice, Milan, and Genoa, constantly trying to figure out the plot that is hidden in the painting. With such historical figures as the Doge of Venice, Leonardo da Vinci, Lorenzo de Medici, Pope Sixtus IV, and Christopher Columbus, the novel keeps the reader interested and intrigued, constantly guessing, until the mystery is unfolded.

Marina Fiorato has proved herself the master of mystery and queen of historical fiction with The Botticelli Secret . Luciana is one of the most original heroines created, with her saucy attitude, filthy mouth, and determination to see her adventure through to the end, she quickly draws the reader in and never lets go. With the addition of the Reader Group guide at the end, this book is a must read for fans of historical fiction, mysteries, heck, fans of just good books should pick this up.

Happy reading,

Danya, Night Owl Reviews Staff