The first part of your journey starts with a visit to the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata. The luxurious exterior still hides traces of frescoes which adorn the façade. But once you’re inside, the rigidity moves aside to reveal the Baroque splendour. Marble, stuccos and paintings astound you and fill your eyes with beauty. Going to the mortuary chapel of the basilica, the most striking tomb is that of Benvenuto Cellini.
The sculpture of Perseus with Medusa’s head that you can admire in the Loggia dei Lanzi rests here and his story is closely linked with homosexuality in Renaissance Florence. It’s no secret that during the Renaissance Florence was a free place where homosexuals could exhibit their orientation with no worries. In the language of the time, the German word for ‘homosexual’ was Florenzen. The Tuscan city seemed to be a real gay-friendly paradise, or at least it was until the beginning of the 15th century, when a series of social disgraces lead to the creation of the Ufficiali di Notte (Night Officers), a sort of moral police. There were over 10,000 charges, arrests and cases brought before the judges. Among these was Benvenuto Cellini, accused of sodomy three times between 1523 and 1556. The crime: having loved other men.