The gay history of Florence

A History of Homosexuality and Queer Culture in Renaissance Florence

Tour Price: from 120,00  (for groups up to 5 pax)

For individual tours or more than 5 pax, request a quote

Duration of the tour: approximately 2 hours

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Florence is not only the cradle of humanism, but also the place where the “queer” identity of modern Europe was formed. While scores of preachers accused the world’s most powerful democracy of being too permissive and even “depraved”, the so-called “Florentine vice” – another word for “sodomy”- flourished to such an extent that it spawned works of art, poetry and philosophical treatises. Florence’s reputation had become an embarrassment even in European countries such as Switzerland where the noun “Florenzer“, which literally translated as “Florentine citizen”, was used as a synonym for “sodomite“.

In this thematic itinerary, we will explain the origins of this Florentine “anomaly” and trace the causes and consequences that over the centuries led to the birth of the richest seasons of Western culture: the Renaissance. Starting from Piazza Santa Croce, one of the most iconic places in Italy and the true heart of Florence’s gay nightlife, where the fearsome Franciscan friar Bernardino of Siena encouraged the people to rebel against the sodomitic shame, we will explain how the queer community of Florence managed to establish spaces to antagonize the authorities and deeply penetrate the socio-economic structures of the city. In other words, the persecution of gays and lesbians in Florence was totally inefficient!

We will take you to the places frequented by anarchist lesbians who opened brothels in defiance of the laws and we will tell you about the Office of the Night, the first European magistracy whose only task was to contrast same-sex acts. We will tell you about characters who made fun of the police force and fearlessly led their free and independent lives. You will learn to recognize the heteronormative value of the religious statuary in the city and to understand its moral value (which nobody respected!). You will learn about the double and often deliberately ambiguous symbolism of Greco-Roman mythology which paved the way for bisexual behavior.

In short, if you want to know about the historical evolution of homosexuality in Florence, come with us on this journey back in time and space, where you will hear the voices of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, but also the forgotten Sandrina who “ate women”, Sister Benedetta Carlini, the lesbian nun from Pescia, and the hundreds of gender-fluid boys who populated the city!


  • We will walk through the streets of the historic center of Florence from Santa Croce to Piazza della Signoria.
  • We will tell you the social practices and love stories of the queer community in Renaissance Florence.
  • You will learn about the history and events of the great gay protagonists of the Renaissance season and we will visit the places of ancient (and modern) sodomy, including taverns, crusing streets and the ancient gay center of the city.


IMPORTANT: The tour is private! Choose the most convenient time and day.

TIMETABLES: The tour is available every day.

ACCESS: There are no paid entrances.


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