Yes, while Renaissance Florence may have been a good place for the arts at the same time, Italy experienced something more closely akin to a zombie movie during the first major outbreak of syphilis in 1494.
Yeah, before antibiotics, this particular STD was less “secret shame” and more “literally rots your face off.” According to one description, the disease “caused flesh to fall from people’s faces, and led to death within a few months.”
More specifically, the outbreak caused ”the complete destruction of the lips, others of the nose, and others of all their genitals.”
Meaning, it was not out of place to see victims shambling around who had lost “hands, feet, eyes, and noses to the disease.” So if today’s Renaissance fairs were accurate, about half the people would look like Walking Dead extras.
The worst part is that it lasted for a few months and that the whole time victims would be screaming with pain as their flesh ”was eaten away, in some cases down to the bone.”
In short, for a brief period during the time of the great Renaissance masters, it was common to see people walking around with their faces falling off their exposed skulls until they finally dropped dead.