The Oltrarno, or as it is called in Florence “beyond the Arno“, is not only the most authentic area of the city (despite the thousands of tourists who flock there!), but it is also the most popular in Florence. Artists, writers, collectors and scientists loved to stop in the little coffee houses and shops of this neighborhood and exchange gossip on the latest love affairs, gamble their money in clandestine dens or taste a bottle of Chianti Classico. Many of these characters were famous LGBTQ+ people and their stories can still be read on the stones of Santo Spirito or the San Frediano neighborhoods.
Our tour of the other side of Florence will start from Ponte Vecchio, the ancient medieval gay cruising area, to arrive at Santa Felicita, where we will admire a powerful and evocative work by Jacopo Carucci known as Pontormo, whose rumors about his homosexuality involved not only his own workshop but also that of the court painter Agnolo Doni known as Bronzino. We will show you the house of the vicious and gorgeous Giuliano Dami, the personal assistant of Grand Duke Giangastone de ‘Medici who, with his ambition, brought the entire court of Tuscany to ruin! We will then move towards the Basilica of Santo Spirito, where we will be able to talk about the life of Filippo Brunelleschi and admire a spectacular wooden Crucifix by Michelangelo… in the buff!
Famous gay writers such as Sandro Penna and Carlo Emilio Gadda, the English art critic Roger Fry, the lesbian poet Radclyffe Hall and the famous Oscar Wilde also lived in the streets of this lively district. He even wrote beautiful poems about the city that had inspired him so much (read our blog article to find out more). On our tour, we will trace the memory of these original and often scandalous protagonists of modernity and retrace their steps to conjure the atmosphere of gay Florence with its voices, its noises and its flavors… we will also have you taste a mouth-watering gelato in the evocative Piazza della Passera (Pussy Square)!
The Oltrarno is also the headquarters of Florence’s LGBTQ+ organizations which give a hand to the queer people who live in this area or to the numerous resident students. “The Shade” also takes place here: it’s an interesting drag evening in pure stand-up comedy style (for info, click here)! Our tour will end with the climb towards San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo (don’t worry, if you are tired, we can take a taxi!) to enjoy the most monumental view of Florence and a fascinating tribute to Michelangelo by Clemente Papi celebrating the time when Florence was Italy’s capital city, the Florentine genius and… the beauty of the naked body!
WHAT WE WILL DO TOGETHER:
- We will cross the streets and squares of the Florentine Oltrarno with its cafes, artisan shops, palaces and churches including Santa Felicita, Palazzo Pitti (exterior), the basilica of Santo Spirito, Piazza del Carmine and via Maggio
- You will learn about the history of the LGBTQ+ characters who have lived here and the gay and lesbian history of famous artists who have immortalized the Oltrarno through their works
- We will shock you with tales of illicit passions, tormented desires and even serial killers, such as the notorious monster of Florence!
- We will climb Mons Florentinus (the Florence Hill), towards the spectacular basilica of San Miniato, where we will admire breathtaking views and incomparable masterpieces of Renaissance art
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. Please dress appropriately as we will be visiting two churches.