The frame tale of the book concerns a group of young men and women who travel to the country to escape the Black Death in Florence. To while away the time the ten of them decide that every night each one will tell a story to help pass the time. Some nights there are to be themes chosen, such as tales which concern people getting out of a tricky situation with a clever comment, and other nights there are none. After ten nights the party decides to return to Florence and thus the Decameron ends.
The stories of the Decameron range from the poignant and worthy to outright bawdy. Monks are displayed as generally venal and willing to do just about anything to get a young maiden to bed with them.