UNMASKING A QUEER NARRATIVE OF RENAISSANCE FLORENCE
A QUEER HISTORY OF FLORENCE
Raise the curtain on Renaissance Florence to reveal a clandestine chapter in the city’s history where same-sex relations convened with high art and intellectual discourse. Co-curated by art historian Kevin Childs, who established the first Professorship in LGBTQ+ history at Oxford University, this journey traces an enthralling queer narrative through the city’s richly frescoed palazzi and across historic Ponte Vecchio to once illicit riverside bathing spots.
Exploring Florence’s world-class art collections within the context of Kevin’s expert insight, discover works that revel in the male form yet also divulge the moral and spiritual dissonance of queer life in Florentine society during the 15th century, a time of great social change. A banquet and masquerade ball, staged in the fabulous confines of Palazzo Gondi, is the unforgettable finale to this in-depth exploration of Florence’s unorthodox past.
Price from £3,685 per person, based on two people sharing.
Two nights' accommodation at Villa Cora
Private transportation throughout, including airport transfers on arrival and departure
Entrance fees to the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici, Bargello National Museum
An expert, English-speaking guide throughout the journey
Close guidance from local experts
Accompaniment by Dr Kevin Childs for the duration of the journey
WHEN TO GO
Journey departures to suit guest preference, between April and November is suggested
Flights to/from Florence
All meals and drinks, excluding breakfasts and the private dinner at Palazzo Gondi
ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE
Travelling as a group? Opt to transform your private dinner at Palazzo Gondi into a masquerade ball, where the themes of classical mythology and concealed identities will be played out.
Discover the Uffizi Gallery, the Bargello National Museum, or the Teatro Verdi after hours, with private access available upon request.
Take pleasure in a picnic for two at the secluded Orti Oricellari gardens, taking in Giuseppe Poggi's Garden Grotto.
Speak to a Travel Designer about exclusive experiences that can be added to your journey.
THE OFFICE OF THE NIGHT
As the Renaissance came to full flower in the 15th century, a significant number of Florentine men were caught in the gaze of the ‘Office of the Night’, a taskforce of moralistic magistrates who policed so called ‘crimes of carnality’. Learn how same-sex relations were commonplace for young Florentine males, who typically did not marry until their 30s.
Many of Florence’s most famous sons were themselves the subjects of investigation: Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Donatello, Michelangelo, even members of the Medici family - though only a tiny proportion of the accused, which even included compromised magistrates, were ever punished.
IN PRAISE OF THE MALE FORM
Visits to Florentine galleries allow for a closer appreciation of the most celebrated erotic depictions of the male form. Admire Donatello’s delicately effeminate bronze of the biblical hero David, housed in the Bargello National Museum, and Bacchus by Caravaggio at the Uffizi Gallery, among other expressions of male beauty by Botticelli and Michelangelo.
It’s not just in Florence’s galleries where such works can be found; an evening walk through the city, guided by Kevin, amplifies the narrative of the male nudes who have populated the cobbled streets for centuries.
When I think, my love, that the day is near
Which must take me as if I had sinned,
And sighs are all that’s left me here,
Where we so lately sweetly twinned
- Poliziano (1454-1494)
THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN LOVE AND SIN
At the walled Orti Oricellari gardens, where once the Platonic Academy of Florence gathered, learn how eminent scholars of the time, among them the poet Angelo Poliziano, established a neoclassical justification of love between men as analogous to the highest form of religious love.
Stand alongside experts to observe Office of the Night documents at the storied Archivo di Stato di Firenze. Le Murate, a former convent, also reveals the stories of women who engaged in covert same-sex relations. Learn the fascinating tale of two 17th century Benedictine nuns, Benedetta Carlini and Bartolomea Crivelli, accused and imprisoned by the church for crimes of a sexual nature.
REVIVING TRADITIONS OF THE PAST
An exclusive visit to the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze unlocks special access to the Collezione Savonaroliana, an archive containing documents and letters from Girolamo Savonarola – the moral dictator of Florence during the 1490s. There, an expert guide will discuss manuscripts and their historical provenance.
Visit the Bargello Museum, housed in a 13th-century palace and a one-time prison, the museum is today the setting for works of sculpture from the grand ducal collections and gothic decorative arts. Famed works from Renaissance sculptors including Donatello, Michelangelo, Luca della Robbia and Benvenuto Cellini, who himself faced trial under the Office of the Night, are all displayed.
Relish a light lunch at a locally-loved trattoria before taking a private transfer to Florence Peretola Airport.
“WHO WOULDN’T WANT THEIR INTRODUCTION TO DONATELLO’S DAVID TO COME FROM ONE OF THE ONLY PEOPLE STILL LIVING WHO KNOWS THE SCULPTURE, AND ITS SECRETS, INTIMATELY?…” - VOGUE MAGAZINE
An art historian and specialist in LGBTQ+ history, Kevin Childs has focused his study of visual culture on the United Kingdom and Italy. Having devised courses at leading museums and universities, Kevin was also instrumental in setting up the first Professorship in LGBTQ+ history at the University of Oxford.
START PERSONALISING YOUR EXPERIENCE
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From discovering the life of a classical composer with an acclaimed concert pianist, to unearthing treasures in Cairo with an archaeologist, our travel designers will create a personalised one-off journey, shaped by you.