On June 16, 1743, on the road to Siena, a young servant fleeing with his lover was caught by his pursuers. Wounded by a harquebus, he would pass away a few days later. At the hospital, as his remains were being tended to, a startling discovery was made: the young boy, who had earned a reputation as an inveterate ladies' man, was actually a woman. A famous doctor, intrigued by the discovery, pieced together her full story: Caterina Vizzani pretended to be a man over a span of eight years in order to follow her then illicit inclination for women under the protection of a male identity. This detailed case history allows Marzio Barbagli to describe the story of love between women throughout the modern age: the personal experience of love, its perception in contemporary culture, the Church's outlook on the topic, as well as the views of law and science.
Marzio Barbagli is professor emeritus at the University of Bologna, where he used to teach Sociology.