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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure: Being Gay in Tuscany

PART 97: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps and what we are learning along the way.


We love every minute of it, and what was once a dream is our life!


We live in Tuscany in the Fall, then back again in the Spring, and in California for the rest of the time (in a previous blog, I explained why we live in Italy only part of the year).


Step 1: As we explore areas in Italy, we are discovering some gems that are worth sharing. Some of these are well-known tourist magnets; others are lesser known but always amazing.


This week let's explore being gay in Tuscany. Is the mentality here accepting? We will share some of our experiences.


Some facts:


Step 2: Some history

In 2004, Tuscany became the first Italian region to ban discrimination against homosexuals in areas such as employment, education, public services, and accommodations. The city of Pisa hosted the first march opposing violence against homosexuals in 1979, known as Pisa79. In Pistoia, the first monument in Tuscany was erected in memory of the homosexual victims of Nazi extermination. The memorial, located in the parterre of Piazza San Francesco, was inaugurated in 2015. These and other events reflect the inclusive culture of the region.


Our experiences:


Step 3: I'm well beyond making excuses for who I am or how I live. However, I was also curious about how open-minded the community in the Tuscany area, where we were planning on moving to, was. After spending two years in Puglia, where gay people were everywhere and being gay wasn't an issue, we weren't so sure about this part of Italy.


Step 4: It's important not to generalize; just because someone has a problem with gay people or any other group, it doesn't mean the whole town or region thinks that way. In fact, if I think back on the only times that I have been called a "faggot" on the street, it happened in New York City and Palm Springs! So, an incident does not represent a mentality, and I wanted to keep this in mind as we got to know the Monte Amiata region of Tuscany.


Step 5: Our visit and our realtor

Last year, when we were considering settling in the Monte Amiata area, I asked our realtor/friend if a gay couple like us would encounter any issues. He seemed surprised and replied, "It's the 21st century, isn't it? Nobody I know would have any issues with that."


Step 6: Our priest

It was during the first week of living in Arcidosso that I met our local priest, who oversees 3 or 4 local churches, including one on the street above our house. When I introduced myself as being from California, he asked me if I had a family - a wife and kids with me. "No, I have a partner," I replied. Without skipping a beat, he asked, "Do you think your partner would help carry the statue during the procession in a few weeks? You look like strong guys."


Later, we ran into him on the street with another gay couple visiting from Palm Springs. "Tell them to move here, and tell your other friends to move here too," he said.


Step 7: Our church lady

Does every town have a church lady? We do. She lives a few houses down, attends church every day, visits her late husband's grave daily, and always takes time to chat when we pass each other in the neighborhood. She comes to our door to tell us local news, asks about the renovation of our house, and seemed sad when we told her we were leaving until September.


It doesn't seem to matter to her in the least that we are a gay couple.


Step 8: Everyday life

We interact with many people in our community, including our realtor and their family and friends, our contractor and their friends, local shopkeepers, and others we frequently chat with. In our daily lives here in Tuscany, being a gay couple doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar.


Step 9: Discos, bars and clubs

My partner and I don't drink much and we have much life experience. Because of that, we no longer find going to discos, bars, or clubs appealing. It's like we've been there and done that. As a result, we haven't been seeking out these places, so I can't provide much firsthand information about what's out there. At this stage in our lives, we prefer spending time with friends over a good meal, going on a great hike with a group, or taking road trips with friends from our local area and California.


Insights:

In this blog, our reflections are based on our initial experiences in Monte Amiata, Tuscany. So far, being gay in Tuscany feels like having green eyes in Tuscany—people don't seem to notice, or if they do, they don't care. There is an open attitude, which we appreciate, and it adds to our sense of feeling at home here.


I promise to write a follow-up blog on the same topic a year from now, based on more experiences in our little piece of paradise in Tuscany.


More next time.


Now on sale for $2.99: My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CRKMKPWF?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_X2WRQ3PTG2ZDD7AVF6GH


Amazon Italy- my book "Lei mi ha sedotto. Una storia d'amore con Roma": https://amzn.eu/d/13nuZCL.

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