Vittoria was born a member of the noble and powerful Colonna family of Rome. In 1509, she married Francesco Ferrante d'Avalos, marquis of Pescara. Vittoria wrote poems and passionate letters to her husband while he was away frequently serving as a commander in the army of the Emperor Charles V and as a captive. She and her work were much admired in the humanist literary circles in which she moved, which included Ludovico Ariosto, Pietro Bembo, and Baldassare Castiglione. She formed a close friendship with Michelangelo that lasted for many years. She was the most famous and successful woman writer of her era in Renaissance Italy.