A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF UGO DE' MEDICI BY DAN
The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book
The Lesser-Known Medici of Florence.
The Ponte Vecchio is a famous bridge in Firenze, Italy. “Ponte Vecchio,”
in Italian, sounds mellifluous and romantic. Translation into the barbarous
tongue of England somewhat dampens this effect. For example, you could
arrange a midnight tryst like this (Italian Version): “Incontriamoci sul
Ponte Vecchio, carissima.” Or like this (English Version): Meet me on the
Old Bridge, dearest.” Which sounds more inviting?
Since I wrote this book for English savages, I have consented, under
relentless coercion from my editor (a former human intelligence collector
at black ops locations throughout the Middle East), to refer to the city
of Firenze by its anglicized name, “Florence.” Personally, I do not like
Florence. It always puts me in mind of Florence Henderson, the perky, mildly
arousing, MILF on The Brady Bunch. But I’ve used it (with considerable
reluctance, obviously) to make things easier for you, the English reader.
Ponte Vecchio, however, will remain Ponte Vecchio. If, as an English-speaking
brute, you prefer to think of it as the Old Bridge, feel free. As you are
reading along, simply substitute “Ponte Vecchio” (silently, in your head)
with “Old Bridge.” If this is too complicated, you could also Wite-Out
every “Ponte Vecchio” in the text and write in “Old Bridge,” provided you
own the book, and it is in fact a book. Applying Wite-Out to a Nook,
Kindle, or other e-reader is not recommended.
In 1565 the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo de’ Medici, installed a private
skywalk over the Ponte Vecchio. This passage, known as the Vasari Corridor
(after its architect, Giorgio Vasari), runs all the way from City Hall,
through Santa Felicita Church, to the Medici palace across the Arno River.
By using the corridor, the Medici could effectively live, work, and attend
mass in Florence without meeting a single smelly commoner.
Biography of Ugo de’ Medici
Thanks to the Vasari Corridor, the Medici were also able to lurk above
the Ponte Vecchio and spy on people through small windows. One member
of the family—Prince Ugo de’ Medici—exploited these peepholes to voyeuristic
ends. What little is known of Ugo comes down to us from the casebooks
of Dr. Luigi Stugatzi, a sanatorium physician who treated him in Tivoli
Ugo was born to Cosimo and Eleanor de’ Medici in 1549. As a baby, he
displayed an unusual fascination with his genitalia. At an age when most
infants are content to crap their nappies and vomit milk, Ugo was masturbating—vigorously
At first, his parents found this amusing.
“Look,” said Cosimo. “Little Ugo’s at it again.”
“Isn’t he charming?” said Eleanor.
During dinner parties they would bring him out after dessert to entertain
their guests, who cheered his wailing orgasms.
“The Masturbating Prince” was considered quite a prodigy, and quickly
became the talk of Florence. Ten years later, Ugo was still showing off
his talents, and people were still talking, though not in favorable terms.
In fact, they were beginning to suspect there was something seriously wrong
with the heir to the dukedom.
As Ugo entered his teens, Cosimo tried to break him of his habit by
sending nude courtesans to his bedroom. But the Prince had no interest
in fornication. He would merely stare at the women and abuse himself as
he always had, though he did notice that their presence made his daily
exercises more pleasurable.
When Ugo tired of looking at courtesans, he began to seek female variety
in the piazzas of Florence. As the son of a Grand Duke, he would never
have mixed socially with peasants, yet the appeal of lower-class cleavage,
when viewed from a safe distance, proved irresistible.
Cosimo, after receiving numerous complaints from fishwives and washerwomen,
was forced to confine Ugo to the palace. Because the palace was connected
to the Vasari Corridor, Ugo (now nearly 20) became a regular spectator
above the Ponte Vecchio. When he was caught, for the hundredth time, manipulating
himself at the windows, his father decided to send him to a sanatorium
in Tivoli renowned for its progressive treatments of debilitating mental
disorders. Ugo’s therapy (very advanced at the time) involved being clamped
into a pair of leather gloves with shards of glass sewn into the palms.
One day, while looking out the window in the onanism ward, Ugo spied
a nun walking along the road. Her skirt caught on a rough cobblestone and
tore, exposing a long, shapely, somewhat unchristian, thigh. Ugo, unable
to control himself, went at it with his gloves on, and ruined, permanently,
any chance he had of producing a male heir. Thus, he was passed over
in the line of succession, leaving his younger brother, Ferdinando, to
rule Tuscany. So shameful was Ugo’s autoerotic urge that Ferdinando, in
an attempt to preserve the dignity of the Medici, struck his name from
the family tree forever.
What happened to Ugo is unknown. Some sources say he turned up as a
castrato in an all-male Vatican choir, while others claim he was shipped
off to Peking, where he became a powerful eunuch in the court of the Wanli