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Like a Virgin: Gay life in Venice from the Middle Ages to present days

Listing ID: 68722
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What Will You Do

Mario, a pioneer italian gay poet in the 70s

We will pass by where used to live an italian poet, who came out in the early 70s and committed suicide some years ago. His works were some of the first Italian poetry to explore homosexuality

A very kind Historian

We will pay respect to was a Venetian historian living between 15th and 16th century. His most significant work is his "Diarii" (chronicles), intended to be an comprehensive a history of Venice, before another literate was officially appointed to do so. He was said he was kind, extremely kind but we will learn why it was not really a compliment. 

When sodomites loved going to church

We will visit a church whose arcades were placed under surveillance by public authorities to prevent sodomites from using it to cruise and meet in 1488. 

Gnaghe: cross dressing with cat masks

We will walk in what was the red light district par excellence of Venice in 15th century. Back in those days under these shadowy porticos around this bridge neighbourhood prostitutes were encouraged by authorities to display their wares in order to prevent sodomy in town. In the same streets walked the "gnaghe", queers or men dressed as women covering their faces with cat masks and emitting the plaintive calls of cats in heat, making explicit proposals to passers-by.

Rolandina, the first transgender person we know about

We will hear the story of Rolandina Roncaglia, the first trans person we know of in Italy. She was born as Rolandino, for seven years she lived as a woman in a house nearby. Beside selling eggs and the local market, she became a prostitute. Once discovered in 1355, she had a terrible death. 

When Casanova used to be a spy at theatre

In this area there used to be a theatre that boasted the title of the first public opera house in the world. It was also in place of homosexual encounters as Giacomo Casanova even points out when he worked as a spy for the state inquisitors in the 18th century

The British poet and the Venetian porter love affair

On this short bank along Canal Grande a famous writer and pioneer of the British gay movement met, and not by chance, a beautiful 19 year old porter.

Where bans related to sodomy where announced

In this campo a famous statue was used as a podium for proclamations and announcements, including bans relating to sodomy: an officer read the names of thoese sentenced to death standing on the block at the end of its staircase. The location in the immediate vicinity of the Rialto market, one of the most frequented by the population at the time, made it ideal for this kind of communication.

A suspicious pharmacy you'd better not go

Here a "suspicious" pharmacy was located, used by sodomites for their meetings. Just getting close could be grounds for condemnation to death!

A gay pop-icon dressed as a bride

Palazzo Zenobio is considered to be one of the most significant examples of Venetian late Baroque design, both architecturally and in interior decor. Throughout the XVIII century the Palace became a venue for intense intellectual life. Since 1993, after a complete restoration, it now serves as a research centre for Armenian studies. Most importantly, it was the main indoor location of Madonna's "like a virgin" video hot in the 80's.

The Patron saint of the LGBT community

One of Venice’s leading art venues thanks to its magnificent cycle of paintings by Paolo Veronese, who is buried here. We will understand why San Sebastiano is considered the patron saint of the LGBT community worldwide. 

A gay bar with a secret garden

We will discover a gay tea room and bar with a secret garden inside. 

The iron cage hanging on San Marco church tower

Outside the tallest bell tower in Venice, an iron cage called "cheba" dates back to the 15th century and in the 16th century. It was also used as to expose somodimite priests to them to the bad weather and taunts of the crowd below.

Don't walk among the columns!

Between these two columns the executions took place up to the middle of the 17th century, as Casanova also confirmed

Don't say it is a gay bar

Despite the founder said it was just a rumours, we will check out a famous bar where gay travellers gathered up to the 70's 

The love between a Venetian rower and a German writer

we will visit a palace where a love story was staged between avenetian rower and a famous german writer. 

The house of a lesbian painter

In this hotel a famous lesbian US painter used to live, collecting love affairs with men and women. 

Do not own that palace

This palace is famous for an unrelated series of unfortunate events that happened to some of its owners, many of them gay. 

A bisexual British painter

 In this palace used to live a famous british poet, aknoledged not only for his poetry but also for a more or less important bisexual component in his very complex sentimental and sexual life 

The night crusiing in Venice

 In ancient times the church had a no longer exisiting porch that a law of 1450 listed among the places of the night sodomites crusing. 

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  • Local top-rated guide (licensed tour leader & nature and interpretive guide)


  • Gratuities


Please note:

  • The tour is offered in English, Italian, Spanish and German.
  • The experience is shared in very small groups up to 8 participants.
  • Private tours are available by clicking on the "Group price": it will be a customized private experience with your group only.
  • Accessibility: the experience is meant to be inclusive and accessible: if you are a traveller with motor, sensorial or cognitive disabilities, please let us know in advance and we will make our best to meet your needs.
  • Not wheelchair accessible. A wheelchair accessible tour is possible as private tour.

What do I need to bring?

  • Please be sure to arrive at the meeting point at least 5 minutes before the starting time of the tour. This is the key to ensure the high-quality of your experience.
  • We also recommend you wear comfortable shoes.
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