The Decameron is set in 1348, when the Black Death was ravaging the city of Florence, as portrayed by Boccaccio in his famous description of plague's effect on people and places. While chaos reigns in the streets and every friendship or kinship is broken by the plague's fear, seven young gentlewomen gather in the church of Santa Maria Novella to pray and try to find out some way to face the situation. The oldest of the group, Pampinea, suggest to leave the city and thus avoid the sad vision of deaths, the risk of contagion and the lack of authority which eventually had weakened all social and moral controls.
Being afraid of traveling alone, the women took with them three young men of their acquaintance just arrived into the church. The new-formed posse or brigata leave the city and its horrors and reach a countryside palace where they decide to stay. In this ideal places, represented with all the features of the locus amoenus, they eventually commit themselves to storytelling in order to occupy their time.
The rules are simple: everyday there will be a "king" or a "queen" that will be in charge of choosing the stories' theme and caring about their meals and entertainment. Therefore, two weeks (except for four days of religious observances) are filled by the ten youngs' stories: everyone is invited to tell one story a day on a chosen theme.
This frame allows Boccaccio to tell, trough his characters, a hundred stories on themes like Fortune, Love, Religion but also Pranks and Tricks, starting with the novella of the evil Ser Ciappelletto and ending with the story of the virtuous Griselda.. After all these days of storytelling, the brigata eventually return to Florence.