Luca Contile was born in Cetona in 1507 (more likely than in 1505) and died in Pavia in 1574. A fallen noble, a descendant of the ancient Ildobrandini family, counts of Cetona, he was sent while still a child to study in Siena, where he was one of the first attendees of the Accademia degli Intronati. At the University of Bologna he perfected his humanistic education, becoming over the years a courtier scholar, serving princes and prelates in important Italian and European courts.
In 1527 he moved to Rome to the court of Cardinal Trivulzio, actively participating in the Accademia della Virtù and in the various cultural contexts promoted by the patronage of Pope Paul III. He reluctantly left Rome, called to Milan in 1542 to serve Alfonso D’Avalos, Marquis of Vasto. The Spiritual Dialogues, published in 1543, are the result of this first court experience. Contile was among those who followed D’Avalos in his political and military action at the imperial court in Germany, participating in the Diet of Worms in 1545. When the Marquis died, Contile assumed the post of tutor to the young Ferdinando Francesco, and in 1547 he travelled with the widow Maria D’Aragona to Ischia and Naples, under the patronage of Giovanna di Aragona. 50 rhyming sonnets, published in Venice in 1560, were dedicated to the Neapolitan noblewoman, celebrated for her beauty with strong references to the poetry of Petrarch.
Returning to Milan he entered Ferrante Gonzaga’s service, conducting diplomatic missions in Naples and Poland. During these years he combined court commitments with heavy involvement in the Accademia dei Fenici and a profitable literary career, presenting, on the occasion of celebrations at the Gonzaga court, the two comedies La Pescara and La Cesarea Gonzaga (published in Milan in 1550) and the two mythological fables Nice and Argia (published in 1551 and 1552).
The Discourse on the five senses of the body, on the other hand, was published in 1552 when the scholar resigned from the Gonzagas and moved to Trento to be at the court of Cardinal Mandruzzo, until 1557, when he was hired by Duke Ottavio Farnese. A year earlier the songs Le Sei Sorelle di Marte were printed in Florence. Driven by economic necessity, in 1558 he entered the service of General Sforza Pallavicino and moved to Venice, where he attended the Accademia della Fama. In April 1560 he was again without patronage, and returned to Milan to the court of the Marquis D’Avalos. From 1562, thanks to Francesco Ferrante, he held the post of commissioner of the Pavia estate records. The Historia de’ fatti of Cesare Maggida Napoli was printed in 1564 with a dedication to the D’Avalos family.
In Pavia, he actively participated in the Accademia degli Affidati under the name of Guidato, publishing Reasoning on the Ownership of Enterprises in 1574.
Official commitments, diplomatic missions, academies and financial troubles marked the life of Contile, who over the years never ceased to provide financial support to his mother and other relatives who remained in Cetona.