Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review:
At a time when Europeans are bemused by our naivete about dalliance in high places, this is, I suppose, the film we should study. It's based on the true story of Veronica Franco, a well-born Venetian beauty who deliberately chose the life of a courtesan because it seemed a better choice than poverty, or an arranged marriage to a decayed nobleman.
[...] Few movies have been so deliberately told from a woman's point of view.
Ebert's close enough. The movie skips around, sometimes nimbly and sometimes heavily, among several sorts of plots: the love story, the "power behind the throne" story, the "bad girl gets in trouble" story. It even makes several feminist points along the lines that being a courtesan is Franco's way of supporting her family, that no other well paying work is available to women, and that it's a dangerous profession because of the envy and jealousy the courtesan invites and because the work is dependent on maintaining an attractive appearance.
The movie is based on a biography of Veronica Franco, a courtesan in 16th century Venice.
The Bechdel Rule:
a suitable movie must A.) feature two women,
who B.) talk to each other,
about C.) something other than a man.
This is a paraphrase of a strip in Allison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For, where the character notes that the last movie she was able to see was Alien, in which the two women talk to each other about the monster.