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Touring Italy’s gay past and present—a disconnect

Michelangel's David (copy), Florence, Italy

Italy has long been an international tourism destination with its spectacular mix of landscapes—the southern Alps, the hills of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast—ancient and historic sites, from the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans through the medieval and Renaissance periods, and its wonderful cuisine. The layers of landscape and history make Italy truly one of the greatest palimpsests in the world. But hidden amongst its ancient and modern cultures lies a troubling disconnect—the recognition of homosexuality as part of Italy’s historic and modern societies.

Oscar Wilde Tours has launched a “gay Italy” tour that focuses on both the role of homosexuality in Italy’s past cultures and the important artists, sculptors, and others who were known to have homosexual relationships. The tour is designed to highlight many of the same sites other tours may visit but acknowledges the gay aspects that are “hiding in plain sight.” That such a tour can focus exclusively on the “gay history” of Italy is an indication of how widespread the issue is, and has been, for hundreds of years.

Yet a new report by Rainbow Europe, an organization that ranks all 49 European countries on various aspects of LGBT issues, from social tolerance to legal protections, is troubling—despite legalizing same sex marriage in 2016, Italy retains one of the worst climates in Europe for LGBT people, including tourists.


Italian Gay History and Art on Gay Tour of Italy

By Oscar Wilde Tours

August 3, 2017


Italy one of the worst countries in western Europe for gay rights: report

By The Local

May 17, 2017

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