Games and pastimes are an explicit and favourite topic of the conversations, which therefore become a form of play on play.
“And I am free of Michaels occupation, I eate and drinke, and walke for recreation.“
It is well known that, among Italian conversation manuals for English Elizabethan readers, John Florio’s Second Fruits (1591) marked, compared to his previous First Fruits (1578), a passage from the moralizing tone of Protestant ethics to the more relaxed one of polite conversation. A connection between Florio’s text and Italian treatises on manners – the birthplace of the Renaissance art of conversation – is a long-established critical acquisition. Given the fact that the text is a dialogue, its very genre assigns it to the world of a literary play. Moreover, games and pastimes are an explicit and favourite topic of the conversations, which therefore become a form of play on play. Furthermore, within the text, discussion on play alternates with the description of games actually played by the interlocutors. From the sports and pastimes which we read of as either performed or discussed by Florio’s personae (from real tennis to horse riding, from cards to backgammon and chess, not to forget travel, love or jokes) we can reconstruct the average day of a typical gentleman. This was clearly a set conversation, but also a model of behaviour. The “Garden of Recreation” – the list of proverbs that follow in the printed edition but which are also used within the text of the dialogues – will also be considered as an integral part of the author’s cultural project.