Answer: They were hiding from the Black Death (plague).
Some extra relevant information:
In the novella collection ‘The Decameron’ by Giovanni Boccaccio, the men and women were hiding from the devastating outbreak of the Black Death that ravaged the outskirts of Florence during the 14th century. This collection of stories is set against the backdrop of the plague, and the characters in the stories use their time in isolation to entertain each other with their tales.
‘The Decameron’ is framed by the premise of ten young noble people, seven women and three men, who retreat to a secluded villa in the countryside to escape the horrors of the epidemic. They create their own refuge and each of them takes turns telling a story every day for ten days, resulting in a total of one hundred stories – hence the name ‘The Decameron,’ which means ‘ten days’ in Greek.
By telling stories, the men and women in the novella collection manage to temporarily escape the grim reality of the plague. The tales cover a wide range of themes, including love, lust, deceit, humor, and tragedy. Through these stories, Boccaccio offered his readers an escape from the hardships of their time, and the collection stands as a testament to the power of storytelling as a means of solace and entertainment.
While the characters in ‘The Decameron’ sought refuge from the plague, the novella collection also serves as a reflection on the human condition and society. Boccaccio explores the complexities of human nature through the diverse personalities of his characters and the moral lessons embedded in their stories. It showcases the range of human experiences and emotions, capturing the essence of life in all its beauty and flaws.
In essence, the men and women in ‘The Decameron’ chose seclusion to protect themselves from the devastating effects of the Black Death. Through their storytelling, they found solace, amusement, and a glimpse into the diversity of the human experience. Boccaccio’s work continues to captivate readers centuries later, serving as a reminder of both the resiliency of the human spirit and the power of storytelling in times of darkness.